Rittenhouse lawyers ask judge to declare mistrial over video

Defence lawyers in the Wisconsin murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse said on Wednesday they would ask for a mistrial because of a dispute with prosecutors over video evidence, as the jury watched footage of his shootings at protests last year.

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and attempted homicide in the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, during a chaotic night in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, 2020. The protests that night – marred by arson, rioting and looting – followed the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty.

At issue in the trial is a drone video that shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse in the parking lot of a used-car dealership and the teenager turning and opening fire with his semi-automatic rifle as Rosenbaum gets close to him.

The prosecution made the video a central plank of their case to the jury, which is in the second day of deliberations on a verdict. They said it showed Rittenhouse pointing his rifle at protesters before the shooting erupted.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers accused the prosecution of withholding a high-definition version of the drone footage until Saturday, after the case was already closed to new evidence. Prosecutors said the video was likely compressed by the defence lawyer’s computers after it was sent to them.

Judge Bruce Schroeder did not immediately rule on the request, the second mistrial motion from the defence in a week.

Rittenhouse lawyer Corey Chirafisi said the defence initially received a compressed version of a video and didn’t get the higher-quality one used by the prosecution until the evidentiary portion of the case was over.

He said that the defence would have approached things differently if it had received the superior footage earlier and that it is now asking for “a level, fair playing field”.

He said the mistrial request would be made “without prejudice”, meaning prosecutors could still retry Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse, a then-17-year-old former police youth cadet, said he went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, to protect property from rioters.

He could get life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him.

Rittenhouse is white, as were those shot. The case has become a flashpoint in the debate over guns, racial injustice, vigilantism and self-defence in the US.

The dispute over the video erupted after the jurors asked to rewatch footage on Day 2 of their deliberations.

 

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