2:01 PM PST, November 12, 2021
The trial of Kenosha shooter Kyle Rittenhouse is headed toward closing arguments and jury deliberation, beginning next week.
Jurors who will decide his fate will be allowed to consider some lesser charges in addition to those originally filed against him, the judge ruled Friday after fierce debate from opposing counsel.
Arguments over jury instructions were contentious at times. At one point, after attorneys debated about what a particular photo showed, Judge Bruce Schroeder appeared to lose his temper. “You’re asking me to give an instruction. I want to see the best picture!” he said.
The highly publicized case against Rittenhouse has been punctuated by scrutiny of the judge’s behavior this week.
Rittenhouse, 18, has said that he feared for his life and acted in self-defense when he shot three men during a protest last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, over the killing of a Black man. Two people died and another was wounded from Rittenhouse’s gunfire. Prosecutors say Rittenhouse, who was living in Illinois, traveled across state lines to insert himself into the demonstrations, armed with a semiautomatic rifle that he was not legally allowed to possess at age 17.
On Thursday, Judge Schroeder asked the courtroom if there were any veterans present. The judge then noted that the defense’s next witness, John Black, was a veteran and encouraged everyone present to “give a round of applause to the people who have served our country.”
Just before lunch on the same day, the judge made what some interpreted as anti-Asian statement. “I hope the Asian food isn’t coming, isn’t on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbor,” as court broke for the midday meal. It was an apparent reference to supply-chain problems with unloading ships in a Los Angeles County harbor.
“A thinly veiled anti-Asian comment,” read one social post.
John C. Yang, executive director of Asian Americans Advancing Justice, wrote on Twitter, “Maybe I’m supposed to applaud him for not saying ‘Oriental food.'”