Kyle Rittenhouse case: Wisconsin judge refuses to toss weapons charge

Wisconsin judge denied motion to drop possession of dangerous weapon charge by person under 18

Kyle Rittenhouse returned to a Kenosha, Wisconsin, courtroom Tuesday, where a judge refused to dismiss a weapons charge and weighed several motions, including one requesting that a self-defense expert be allowed to testify during the criminal trial that’s scheduled to begin in November. 

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder was expected to consider several outstanding motions Tuesday in an effort to establish the final ground rules for the trial. He refused to dismiss a weapons charge against the Illinois resident, who is accused of killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz during an August 2020 protest in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse's attorneys wanted the judge to dismiss a charge that he possessed his AR-style semiautomatic rifle illegally because he was a minor and to allow testimony from an expert on police use-of-force decisions.

Schroeder denied the motion to dismiss count 6, which charges Rittenhouse with possession of dangerous weapon by a person under 18, but the judge added Tuesday that the matter may be subject to reconsideration, WDJT reported. 

KENOSHA POLICE SUED BY FAMILY OF MAN ALLEGEDLY SHOT BY KYLE RITTENHOUSE 

During Tuesday’s hearing, the judge also heard from Dr. John Black, a weapons and police use-of-force expert who the defense wants to testify during trial. He was going over livestream videos posted online showing the events leading up to Rittenhouse opening fire, the Patch reported. 

No ruling was made on the expert. 

Meanwhile, prosecutors were looking for permission to introduce a video showing Rittenhouse saying he'd like to shoot some men he thought were shoplifting from a pharmacy 15 days before the protest. Schroeder said last month he was leaning toward excluding it. 

Schroeder on Sept. 23 denied both sides' request to send questionnaires to potential jurors to probe biases. The judge wrote in a letter to the attorneys that he's afraid people won't fill them out and recipients would discuss the case with family members, friends and co-workers.

Kyle Rittenhouse accused of shooting three people during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year, waits for the start of his motion hearing, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis. 

Kyle Rittenhouse accused of shooting three people during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year, waits for the start of his motion hearing, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021, in Kenosha, Wis.  ((Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP))

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings on Aug. 25, 2020, is set to stand state trial in November on a slew of charges, including first-degree intentional and reckless homicide in connection to the deaths of Huber and Rosenbaum. He is also charged with attempted first-degree homicide for allegedly shooting and wounding Grosskreutz. 

Civil unrest that included looting and arson broke out in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot seven times by a Kenosha officer, Rusten Sheskey, after police responded to a 911 call from the mother of his children on Aug. 23, 2020. Blake was left paralyzed.

Blake later admitted he had a knife in his possession during the struggle with officers – despite media reports and statements from his attorneys claiming he was unarmed. He also had a felony warrant out for his arrest at the time of the shooting. It wasn’t until January that the Kenosha County district attorney announced no officers would face charges in connection to the incident.

Kevin Mathewson, a former Kenosha alderman who founded a militia group called the Kenosha Guard, had put out a call on Facebook for "patriots willing to take up arms and defend our City tonight against the evil thugs" and received hundreds of responses from people who planned to respond to the riots. Rittenhouse’s lawyers have repeatedly claimed their client had traveled from Antioch, Ill., to Kenosha on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, to protect local businesses from rioters and looting.

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According to the initial criminal complaint, several videos reviewed by law enforcement show Rittenhouse running across a parking lot with an AR-15-style long gun in hand, as Rosenbaum, who was unarmed, chases after him. Rittenhouse shoots Rosenbaum, and a local reporter begins rendering aid.

The reporter stated that Rosenbaum had attempted to get Rittenhouse’s gun, according to the complaint. Another cellphone video from the scene shows Huber, with a skateboard in hand, wrestling Rittenhouse on the ground for his gun. Rittenhouse fires one shot, killing Huber. He then "moves to a seated position and points his gun" at Grosskreutz, who has his hands up and moves toward Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse then shoots him.

The next hearing is scheduled for Oct. 25. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.