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Judge dismisses possession of dangerous weapon charge against Kyle Rittenhouse ahead of closing arguments

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Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder on Monday dismissed a charge of illegal possession of a dangerous weapon against Kyle Rittenhouse as both sides prepared for closing arguments ahead of the murder case going to the jury.

“While discussing the instructions that will be given to the jury on Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 against Rittenhouse,” CBS Chicago reported.

Though it was only a misdemeanor charge, legal experts say it appeared to be the one that would have most likely resulted in a conviction for Rittenhouse, now 18 years old but who was just 17 last year when he carried an AR-15 type rifle on the streets in Kenosha as rioters and looters sacked portions of the city following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man reaching for a knife in his vehicle.

Rittenhouse used the rifle to shoot and kill two men on Aug. 25, 2020, while wounding a third man. He has claimed he acted in self-defense; video clips that went viral after being posted online shortly after the shootings appeared to show him being chased by one victim and attacked by the others.

Last week, his defense attorneys argued that a Wisconsin law contains an exemption that would allow a 17-year-old to openly carry a rifle if it did not have a barrel shorter than 16 inches or an overall length of less than 26 inches, the local outlet reported.

“Schroeder said the Wisconsin law was poorly written, and that the shorter barrel size of the rifle Rittenhouse carried meant he didn’t violate that law,” CBS Chicago noted further.

“Although prosecutors said they disagreed with the judge’s interpretation of the law, they conceded Rittenhouse’s weapon was not a short-barreled rifle, and Schroeder dismissed that count,” the outlet added.

But five charges remain, and all are felonies, ranging from intentional homicide to recklessly endangering public safety.

In addition to convincing Schroeder to drop the weapons charge, the defense has also filed for a mistrial, citing improper actions by prosecutors.

“The state has repeatedly violated instructions from the Court, acted in bad faith and intentionally provided technological evidence which was different from theirs,” says the motion, as reported by Fox News.

“For those reasons, the defendant respectfully requests the Court find ‘prosecutorial overreaching’ existed, that overreaching was intentional and in bad faith and thereby grant the defendant’s motion for a mistrial with prejudice,” the motion continued.

Throughout last week, Schroeder had to take the prosecution to task over what he saw as various violations of protocol and, in one instance, the U.S. Constitution.

Schroeder stopped the proceedings and instructed the jury to go to the library before blasting Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, saying he had committed a “grave constitutional violation” for discussing the teen’s constitutional right to remain silent after he was arrested and formally charged.

“You’re right on the borderline. You may be over. But it better stop,” the judge warned.

Schroeder yelled at Binger later after the prosecutor tried to bring up an incident from Aug. 10, 2020, after being instructed during pre-trial proceedings not to do so.

“Don’t get brazen with me!” Schroeder hollered after Binger tried to explain. “You know very well that an attorney can’t go into these types of areas when the judge has already ruled, without asking outside the presence of the jury to do so. So don’t give me that!”

Jon Dougherty

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