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Judge says prosecutors can't call those shot by Rittenhouse 'victims,' OKs use of 'looters'

Says term 'victims' presupposes guilt
Kyle Rittenhouse
Posted at 1:17 PM, Oct 27, 2021

MADISON, Wis.— A Wisconsin judge has set the final ground rules for what evidence will be allowed at Kyle Rittenhouse's trial next week.

Judge Bruce Schroeder, during a hearing Monday, ruled that the two men who were shot and killed by Rittenhouse amid August 2020 protests against police brutality could not be referred to by attorneys as "victims" during the upcoming trial.

Schroeder explained it's his long-held view that lawyers should not use the word "victim" to describe people during trials. According to NPR, while such a view is not universal, other judges across the country often rule against the use of the term "victim" because it presupposes a defendant's guilt.

Schroeder also said Tuesday that Rittenhouse's lawyers could potentially refer to the men shot by the teenager as shot as "rioters" or "looters."

"Let the evidence show what the evidence shows — that any or one of these people were engaged in arson, rioting or looting — then I'm not going to tell the defense they can't call them that," Schroeder said, according to CNN.

The judge on Tuesday also ruled that defense attorneys could introduce a video of police thanking Rittenhouse for protecting city businesses and offering him water. The attorneys argue that shows police felt Rittenhouse was acting reasonably.

Schroeder also ruled that a defense use-of-force expert can testify, but only about how quickly the shootings occurred.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, traveled across state lines from his home state of Illinois to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020 as protests against police brutality gripped the city.

The teenager has said he traveled to Kenosha to help business owners protect against looting that was taking place amid the protests. During those protests, Rittenhouse shot and killed protesters Anthony M. Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and injured one other person.

Rittenhouse has argued that he fired in self-defense after protesters surrounded him.

The trial is set to begin Nov. 1.