The murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse has had plenty of headlining moments. The courtroom fireworks have included the judge admonishing the prosecutor for possibly violating Rittenhouse’s constitutional rights, the defense filing for a mistrial, and Rittenhouse breaking down into tears on the stand.
As you may recall, Kyle Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he was arrested for fatally shooting two “rioters” and “looters” in Kenosha, Wis. in the summer of 2020 after street violence broke out following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man.
Rittenhouse was charged with five felony counts and one misdemeanor for the shooting.
In the case, Judge Bruce Schroder, the judge yelled at Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger for being on the “borderline” by talking “about the defendant’s silence.”
Judge Schroeder continued his admonishment of Thomas Binger when he said, “It better stop, I can’t think of an initial case on it, but this is not permitted.”
Schroeder stopped the trial twice and sent the jury out of the courtroom both times because the prosecution sought to use Rittenhouse’s pre-trial silence against him.
The fifth amendment of the U.S. Constitution states that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.”
A 1966 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Miranda V. Arizona set a precedent in which a right to silence warning must be administered to a suspect before questioning by law enforcement.
Judge Schroeder likely had this case in mind when he said, “I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant’s post-arrest silence. That’s the basic law. It’s been basic law in this country for 40 years, 50 years. I have no idea why you would do something like that!”
And then Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand and broke down in tears as he recalled the events of the night he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Joshua Ziminski.
Rittenhouse said he recalled Rosenbaum yelling “burn in hell” to him before Rittenhouse yelled “friendly, friendly!” to calm Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse claimed he felt “trapped” by Rosenbaum and Joshua Ziminski, who fired his pistol into the air, claiming that the man had the “pistol pointed at him during the incident.”
The judge ordered a 10-minute recess after Rittenhouse broke down before returning to recall his side of the events.
Rittenhouse’s lawyers asked Judge Schroeder to rule a mistrial, but so far, he has not made a ruling on the motion, and the trial will continue.