Judge in Kyle Rittenhouse trial hoping to seat jury in a day
The jury selection process in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen who fatally shot Black Lives Matters protesters in Kenosha, Wisc. last year, began on Monday.
Judge Bruce Schroeder told attorneys that he believes picking 12 people from the 150 prospective jurors should only take one day, The Associated Press reported. Schroeder said he had no plans of sequestering the jury in the high-profile case.
Jury selection ran into some technical difficulties on Monday, slowing down the process. This delay prompted Schroeder to play a mock game of “Jeopardy!” with the prospective jurors, which some observers on a live stream of the trial deemed to be inappropriate.
According to the AP, Schroeder stressed that any decision a potential jury made could only be based off of what was heard in the courtroom, noting that the case for Rittenhouse “has become very political. It was involved in the politics of the last election year.”
Earlier this year, attorneys on both sides requested that questionnaires be sent to people called on as potential jurors to detect bias in the case. Schroeder, however, denied this request.
In August of 2020, Rittenhouse travelled across state lines from Illinois into Wisconsin to an anti-racism protest in response to the police shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man who was was paralyzed as a result of his injuries.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, claimed he travelled to Kenosha with an AR-15-style rifle in response to local business owners requesting protection for their property. Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and also wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.
Rittenhouse and the men he shot are all white.
The Illinois teen’s case has garnered support from far-right groups, with his backers painting him as a patriot who was acting in self-defense. Others have characterized Rittenhouse as a violent vigilante who should not have been at the demonstration.
Earlier this year, a defense fund started for Rittenhouse claimed to have raised around half a million dollars.
Rittenhouse faces two homicide charges, one attempted homicide charge and two charges of recklessly endangering safety. He also faces one charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
Last week, Schroeder, Wisconsin’s longest-serving circuit judged, generated controversy when he ruled that Rittenhouse’s defense could refer to the protesters he shot as “rioters” and “looters,” but said prosecutors could not refer to them as “victims.” Schroeder is known to routinely ban the use of “victim” in his court unless an individual is the victim of a crime for which the perpetrator has already been convicted, claiming it is a loaded term.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel noted that Schroeder has faced multiple calls to resign from the case, which he has sought to treat as a normal homicide trial despite the national media coverage.