The homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse got emotional and even combative Wednesday, with Rittenhouse’s defense team calling for a mistrial. Multiple breaks had to be taken during testimony as Rittenhouse took the stand. Rittenhouse testified that he was under attack when he shot three men, two fatally, during a night of turbulent protests against racial injustice in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. He broke down in tears describing his experience, forcing a brief pause in the defense’s questioning.
“I — once I take that step back, I look over my shoulder and Mr. Rosenbaum — Mr. Rosenbaum was now running from my right side, and I was cornered from in front of me with Mr. Ziminski,” Rittenhouse said. “And there were people right there.”
During cross examination, Rittenhouse said Jacob Rosenbaum, “threatened to kill me twice” and “I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me”. It was during cross examination that Judge Bruce Schroeder forced another break in the trial, and sent the jury out of the courtroom. Schroeder took issue with the prosecution’s questions about Rittenhouse’s silence after his arrest. The judge accused prosecutor Thomas Binger of pursuing an improper line of questioning and trying to introduce testimony that the judge earlier said he was inclined to prohibit.
“I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant’s post-arrest silence,” Schroeder said. “That’s basic law. It’s been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years. I have no idea why you would do something like that.”
Rittenhouse lawyer Corey Chirafasi all but suggested prosecutors might be deliberately trying to cause a mistrial because the current trial is “going badly”. The defense asked for a mistrial with prejudice. That means if one is granted, Rittenhouse cannot be retried.
“I think both elements for mistrial with prejudice have been met,” Chirafisi said. “And I think under the circumstances, based on what I’ve put forth on the record, I would certainly ask the court to consider those.”
Binger insisted to Schroeder that he was acting in good faith, to which Schroeder responded “I don’t believe you”. Schroeder did not immediately rule on the defense’s request.