No Verdict in Rittenhouse Trial as Jurors Depart for the Night
Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense team sought a mistrial on Wednesday, its second such request. The judge has yet to rule on either.,
KENOSHA, Wis. — Jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial deliberated through a second full day on Wednesday, an indication that they might be struggling with the complexities of their task to consider Mr. Rittenhouse’s culpability in the five criminal counts he faces.
Mr. Rittenhouse, 18, is on trial for first-degree intentional homicide and other charges after fatally shooting two men and maiming another during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020.
The deliberations on Wednesday were punctuated by a second call for a mistrial by Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyers, who argued that prosecutors had before the trial provided them with a lower-quality version of a drone video that depicts the fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man Mr. Rittenhouse shot. During two weeks of testimony, jurors saw the higher-quality version of the video.
Judge Bruce Schroeder said the trial would continue but suggested that he could rule on the request for a mistrial at any time, including after a verdict.
“It has to be addressed if there is a guilty verdict on any degree on that count,” Judge Schroeder said of the motion.
The jurors — seven women and five men — offered a few glimpses into how their deliberations, which started on Tuesday morning, were proceeding.
At points during their deliberations, jurors asked the judge for permission to watch videos that had been played during the trial, including footage of all three shootings from the night in question. By midafternoon, the courtroom was emptied for close to an hour so the jury could enter and watch videos without the judge, lawyers, journalists and the public present.
Noise from demonstrators could be heard through the windows of the ornate courtroom, on the third floor of the Kenosha County Courthouse. Throughout the day, several dozen protesters lingered on the courthouse steps, arguing, occasionally shouting obscenities and chanting, “No mistrial, no mistrial.”
At least two people were detained after a fight on Wednesday afternoon, and earlier in the day, one man who was carrying an AR-15-style rifle outside the courthouse was asked by a sheriff’s deputy to put it away, which he did.
Judge Schroeder indicated that he was concerned that prosecutors had not turned over the correct version of the video to the defense team before the trial, but he did not immediately rule on the defense’s motion for a mistrial.
James Kraus, an assistant district attorney, said one of Mr. Rittenhouse’s previous lawyers had been in possession of the high-quality video, and he argued that the issue was not significant enough to merit a mistrial.
The Criminal Charges Against Kyle Rittenhouse
An accidental “technical incident,” he said, “should not result in a mistrial.”
Corey Chirafisi, one of Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyers, said that a prosecutor’s job was about “fairness and being a truth seeker” and that the Kenosha County prosecutors had violated those principles. He also said he was willing to accept a mistrial “without prejudice,” meaning that prosecutors could try the case again.
“It’s not debatable that it’s not fair what happened,” Mr. Chirafisi said. “We’re talking about a potential life sentence here.”
Last week, Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyers made a motion for a mistrial over a different issue.
In that motion, they argued that another prosecutor, Thomas Binger, had inappropriately questioned Mr. Rittenhouse before the jury about why he had not spoken about the shootings in their aftermath. The defense lawyers said that the comments had infringed on Mr. Rittenhouse’s right to remain silent, and that Mr. Binger had also begun to mention a piece of evidence the judge had suggested should not be brought up at trial.
Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyers argued at that time that the judge should declare a mistrial with prejudice, which would amount to a permanent dismissal of the charges. The judge has yet to rule on either motion for a mistrial.
One reason a judge might wait until after a verdict to rule on mistrial motions, some legal experts said, would be so that the case reaches a clear outcome. If the jury acquits, the mistrial motions would become moot. If the jury convicts and then the judge grants a mistrial and voids the verdict, the prosecution would have the opportunity to appeal the finding.
Dan Hinkel and Sergio Olmos contributed reporting from Kenosha.