Kyle Rittenhouse Trial
At the end of a long day of jury selection Monday, 11 women and 9 men were chosen for the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse, 18, is on trial for shooting three white men — two of them fatally — with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle during a late night protest against the police shooting of a Black man in August 2020. He faces two homicide counts, one count of attempted homicide, and charges of reckless endangerment and illegal possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
The jury will decide if Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, as his lawyers will argue, or whether he engaged in vigilantism when he traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois to stand guard with other armed anti-protesters at a mechanic shop. The court did not give a racial breakdown of the 12 jurors and eight alternates, but at least two are gun owners, one said she was frightened during the protests, and another juror is a pharmacist who said she was robbed at gunpoint in 2012, The Associated Press recounts.
Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder repeatedly told the jurors on Monday that they will base their verdict on only what they hear in the courtroom. "This is not a political trial," he insisted. "It was mentioned by both political campaigns and the presidential campaign last year, in some instances very, very imprudently," but "I don't want it to get sidetracked into other issues," like the Second Amendment.
During a delay Monday, Schroeder had the prospective jurors play a game of Jeopardy!, "something he sometimes does as attorneys get organized," AP reports. The judge has also shown his idiosyncrasies by telling prosecutors they cannot call the men Rittenhouse shot "victims" but Rittenhouse's lawyers can refer to them as looters, rioters, or arsonists, even if they weren't.