MADISON, Wisconsin (AP) – The November trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois man accused of killing two people in chaotic protests after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Wisconsin last year, is up to last two weeks, lawyers said on Friday.
Rittenhouse attorneys and attorneys confirmed with Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder during a 10-minute status conference that the trial will begin November 1st. Both sides said they don’t expect the trial to take the full two weeks.
As a sign of the intense public relations work surrounding the case, they announced to the judge that they intend to send questionnaires to potential jurors asking them about their background and beliefs. The questionnaires can help lawyers decide who to remove from the pool. Lawyers in the trial of a white ex-police officer convicted of the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis used such questionnaires.
Schröder said he wanted to see the questionnaires by August 1st.
Rittenhouse appeared in person in the courtroom for the first time since his arrest last year. COVID-19 logs have forced him to appear on video in previous trials, but these restrictions have been lifted. He was sitting at the defense table in a blue suit, blue tie, and black face mask. He did not say anything.
According to prosecutors, Rittenhouse, then 17, shot dead two people and injured a third in August after traveling to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois. The city was in several nights of sometimes violent demonstrations after Officer Rusten shot Sheskey Blake and paralyzed the black man from the waist down.
Rittenhouse and his lawyers said he went to Kenosha to protect companies. The video shows Rittenhouse, armed with an assault rifle, shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz. Rosenbaum and Huber died. Grosskreutz survived his wounds.
Cell phone footage shows Rittenhouse, white, walking past police lines with his hands raised and still slung his rifle over his shoulder, despite protesters shouting that he had just shot people.
He turned himself in to the police in Antioch a few hours later, claiming that the three men attacked him and that he shot in self-defense.
Since then, he has been a polarizing figure in the national conversation about police brutality and racism. Conservatives have upheld him as a symbol of gun rights and praised him for fighting against police protesters and even raising $ 2 million to cover his bail. Others claim he escalated tensions by walking around the protest with a gun.
Rittenhouse attorney Mark Richards has stated in court documents that Rittenhouse and his family moved to an undisclosed safe house because of multiple threats.