Rittenhouse back in court today as prosecutors look to block defense from describing shooting victims as ‘looters’ and ‘rioters’ during trial

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KENOSHA, Wis. — Kenosha prosecutors will return to court Monday afternoon, as they seek to ban Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense team from referring to the three men he shot as “looters” or “rioters” in the Antioch teen’s upcoming murder trial.

The hearing is the last one scheduled before jury selection begins Nov. 1.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to the charges and says he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz in August 2020.

Then 17 and living in suburban Antioch, Illinois, Rittenhouse fired the shots while patrolling downtown Kenosha with an AR-15-style rifle amid the turmoil surrounding the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer. Despite not being old enough to openly carry a gun, Rittenhouse volunteered as an armed security guard after businesses had been burned and vandalized during demonstrations held the previous night.

At an earlier hearing, one of Rittenhouse’s lawyers described the shooting victims as “rioters” and argued that all three attempted to steal Rittenhouse’s gun.

“They were not protesters,” attorney Mark Richards said. “They were rioters.”

The prosecution’s motion specifically requests the defense be barred from referring to the men as “rioters, looters, arsonists or any other pejorative terms.” The state argues that there has been no judicial ruling saying the men committed those acts and Rittenhouse denied at least two of them — Rosenbaum and Huber — a chance to defend themselves from the accusations when he killed them.

Kenosha Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder already has ruled the three men cannot be referred to as “victims” during the trial because it would be prejudicial to Rittenhouse. Such rulings are standard in self-defense cases where there is a dispute over who bears responsibility.

In their 11th-hour request, prosecutors asked that Rittenhouse and the men he shot all be referred to by their last names. Defense attorneys typically refer to their clients by their first names during trials to humanize them for the jury.

The state’s motion also seeks to block any evidence that local law-enforcement provided water to vigilantes the night of the shooting and thanked them for their presence. In video taken before Rittenhouse fired his gun, officers in an armored vehicle tossed bottles of water to him and other armed civilians who were clearly violating the city’s 8 p.m. curfew.

One officer can be heard on the recording expressing his gratitude to the group.

“We appreciate you guys,” the officer said. “We really do.”

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