Rittenhouse trial judge rules on lower charge request

The judge in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial has ruled against a bid by the prosecution for the jury to consider a lower charge in the shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum – one of two men the teenager is accused of killing.

Rittenhouse’s defense rested their case on Thursday after presenting evidence that the then-17-year-old acted in self-defense when he shot and killed two people during violent protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year. Prosecutors were seeking to add lesser charges to their case. 

However, on Friday, Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder denied prosecutors’ arguments that an additional charge of second-degree reckless homicide was warranted, ruling that only the original first-degree charge would be sent to the jury. 

Lesser charges would offer a chance to lower the burden of proof for the prosecution in order to obtain a conviction. An additional charge presented by prosecutors was a second-degree charge for recklessly endangering Richie McGinnis, who was near Rosenbaum when he was shot, which Judge Schroeder said he would consider. 

On Wednesday, prosecution lawyer Thomas Binger was reprimanded by the judge, who said that, at one point, Binger may have crossed a legal line in commenting on the accused’s right to remain silent. Testimony by witnesses painting Rittenhouse as not having been the primary aggressor may also have helped his self-defense argument. 

Some activists and commentators, however, have called for Judge Schroeder’s removal, on account of both his clashes with the prosecution and the bias they allege he has shown. 

Rittenhouse, now 18, has been charged with killing Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, as well as shooting Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, in August 2020. He has pleaded not guilty to all counts, which include first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, reckless endangering, and illegal possession of a weapon by a person under 18. 

Closing arguments by the defense and prosecution will be made on Monday. 

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