Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Wisconsin prosecutors want judge to allow evidence of past ‘violent situation’

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Wisconsin prosecutors are asking a judge Thursday to allow evidence at the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse showing that he had a previous violent encounter in Kenosha before shooting and killing two men last year during a police brutality protest – and that he also was associated with the right-wing group Proud Boys. 

The state filed its motion in Kenosha County Circuit Court as Rittenhouse, 18, is being charged with killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, on Aug. 25. Crowds in Kenosha during that time were protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was left paralyzed when he was shot by a white police officer. 

Prosecutors want to introduce a video from July 1, 2020, which they say shows Rittenhouse striking a teenage girl in the back at Kenosha’s lakefront. 

Kyle Rittenhouse listens during his pretrial hearing May 21, 2021 at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis. (AP/The Kenosha News)
(AP)

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“In both the July 1, 2020 incident and the August 25, 2020 incident, the defendant, an Illinois resident, willingly and intentionally put himself in violent situations in Wisconsin that do not involve him in order to commit further acts of violence,” the motion states. 

Prosecutors also said Rittenhouse’s association with the Proud Boys should be considered at the trial because it shows that he takes pride in violence. 

Photos taken in January show Rittenhouse drinking inside a Mount Pleasant bar and gesturing with what appeared to be a white power symbol. The motion states that prosecutors have since learned that the people with Rittenhouse at the bar included the leader of the Wisconsin Proud Boys chapter and several of its highest-ranking members. 

Prosecutors allege Rittenhouse, who is white, left his home in Antioch, Illinois, and traveled to Kenosha to answer a call for paramilitary groups to protect businesses during the Jacob Blake protests. 

In this Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, Kyle Rittenhouse carries a weapon as he walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., during a night of unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.  (AP/The Journal Times)

In this Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, file photo, Kyle Rittenhouse carries a weapon as he walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., during a night of unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.  (AP/The Journal Times)

Rittenhouse faces multiple charges, including two homicide counts. He has argued he fired in self-defense after protesters attacked him. 

Black Lives Matter supporters have painted him as a trigger-happy white supremacist, the Associated Press says, but some conservatives see him as a symbol for gun rights and have rallied around him, generating $2 million for his bail in November. 

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The Anti-Defamation League, which tracks extremist activity, concluded in August 2020 that there was no indication from Rittenhouse’s social media footprint that he was connected to any extremist movements. His posts on social media indicated he was pro-police and was interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. 

Rittenhouse’s lawyers have claimed he acted in self-defense, and say video footage shows Joshua Ziminiski, 35, fired the first shot. 

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Rittenhouse’s defense attorney did not immediately respond to a message and email from the AP seeking comment on prosecutors’ latest motion. 

His trial is scheduled to start Nov. 1. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 


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