MILWAUKEE — Kyle Rittenhouse will go on trial Monday in the shooting of three people, two fatally, during a protest against police brutality after the shooting of Jacob Blake.
Since then, the case and its characters have provided a constant stream of intrigue, outrage and propaganda, in both mainstream and niche conservative media outlets where he has occasionally been portrayed as a patriot and symbol of gun rights as well as a self-defense hero and boy-next-door.
Rittenhouse has been charged with intentional, reckless and attempted homicide, reckless endangerment and curfew violation. He’s also charged with possessing a firearm as a minor, which is a misdemeanor.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce is presiding in his large second-floor courtroom. Masks are not required inside the Kenosha County Courthouse, and social distancing is not enforced. Schroeder has set aside two weeks for the trial.
His lawyers say Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. Here’s what to know about his trial.
Rittenhouse charged with multiple counts, including homicide
Rittenhouse faces five felonies, a misdemeanor and a curfew ticket from the events of Aug. 25, 2020. Using an AR-15-type rifle, he killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz. His lawyers say he acted in lawful self-defense.
The most serious charge was first-degree intentional homicide for the fatal shooting of Huber, the second victim, who prosecutors say was shot in the chest while trying to pull Rittenhouse’s gun from him.
Rittenhouse is also charged with endangering the safety of a reporter for The Daily Caller who was recording from nearby when Rosenbaum was shot and an unidentified man Rittenhouse shot at as the man tried to kick him.
Rittenhouse considered himself militia
Rittenhouse considered himself a militia member trying to protect life and property, according to videos, interviews and social media posts. He was 17 at the time of the shooting but has since turned 18.
The night of the shooting, Rittenhouse told reporters that he was armed with a rifle to protect a local parking lot. Wisconsin law allows for gun owners to carry their firearms in public, though it is unclear whether the Illinois 17-year-old would have been prohibited as a minor.
Neither side sought to have the trial elsewhere
Rittenhouse’s trial on homicide and other charges is set to start Monday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, at 9 a.m. with jury selection.
In a typical criminal felony trial, most clerks of court will summon 30-60 people from the county as potential jurors, selected randomly from state driver’s license and ID card records.
For trials for cases that have generated lots of publicity, it’s not uncommon for defendants to seek a change of venue — to have the trial held in a different county, or before jurors brought in from another county.
Perhaps because the Rittenhouse case has generated a super-high level of national publicity, neither side sought to have the trial elsewhere, knowing that potential jurors in almost any part of Wisconsin would be familiar with the case.
Judge has sparked controversy before
Schroeder is the longest-serving current judge in Wisconsin. He’s also becoming a polarizing national figure for his early decisions in the Rittenhouse trial.
Schroeder, 75, said last week the people shot by Rittenhouse could not be called “victims” — a term he routinely bans in his trials unless someone has been convicted of a crime against the person. But after Schroeder also didn’t ban defense lawyers from calling the men “looters, rioters, arsonists or any other pejorative term,” national scrutiny followed.
Schroeder has presided over other high-profile trials, including a major reversal in one of them. He also prompted controversy recently after he quoted a racial slur, a moment caught on camera during online streaming of court proceedings last year.
Kyle Rittenhouse trial:Judge has sparked controversy before, insists the case is not ‘political’
How you can watch the proceedings
CourtTV, a streaming news site that used to be a cable channel, plans to cover the entire trial. Schroeder and county officials have let CourtTV set up three cameras, and its audio and video will serve as the feed to other news outlets.
The trial will stream live — supplemented with CourtTV’s own commentary — on CourtTV.com.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, part of the USA TODAY Network, will have multiple reporters providing coverage, including via a live blog at jsonline.com
Contributing: Gina Barton and Cary Spiva, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel; The Associated Press.
Follow Bruce Vielmetti on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.