Rittenhouse Attorney Wants To Use Victim's History In Trial

AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, Pool

Kyle Rittenhouse did nothing wrong.

At most, you can say he shouldn’t have been in Kenosha that night. Yet let’s face the facts. He’s no on trial for standing around Kenosha with a firearm. He’s on trial for killing two people and wounding another, and those are crimes he shouldn’t be charged with.

Unfortunately, my opinion simply doesn’t make it so.

As such, he’s standing trial, and his lawyer wants to make a certain bit of information admissible.

Kyle Rittenhouse’s attorney wants a judge to allow him to argue that one of the men his client fatally shot during a Wisconsin protest was a sex offender, saying it supports a defense theory that he attacked Rittenhouse and intended to take his gun because he couldn’t legally possess one.

Mark Richards maintained in court filings Thursday that Joseph Rosenbaum was convicted of having sex with a minor in Arizona in 2002 and was prohibited from possessing firearms. Rosenbaum started the altercation with Rittenhouse in hopes of making off with his assault-style rifle, which only bolsters Rittenhouse’s self-defense argument, Richards wrote.

Kimberley Motley, an attorney representing Rosenbaum’s estate, said Tuesday morning that she hadn’t read the motions yet and had no immediate comment.

It’s a bold strategy, but I don’t really think it’s going to fly.

Admitting that the victim is a felon is one thing, but to point out he was a sex offender might be more than a judge is willing to allow. Showing he’s a felon will illustrate Richards’ point quite well. The main reason to point out he was a sex offender is to have an impact on the jury. People hate sex offenders. It’s a universal thing in our society.

Richards wants to introduce it not just to show that there’s a reason Rosenbaum wanted Rittenhouse’s weapon, but also to show that he was just a disgusting human being who we’re better off without in the world.

I’m not sure a judge is going to let it get to that point.

The truth of the matter is that Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people, neither of which were trying to sexually assault him. Nor was the one person he wounded. I’m not sure a judge will let that through.

However, their status as felons may well be relevant, since Richards is right that it may establish a reason to want to take Rittenhouse’s gun from him.

Of course, I’d like to say that even that isn’t necessary. Anyone looking at the videos from that night will see a young man cut off from his friends and allies being pursued by a mob, one of which tried to take his weapon away from him. He then did what he had to do to protect himself. Every time I look, I see all the more reason why Rittenhouse should be a free man.

Unfortunately for him, the mob is still after him. The question is whether the court will be part of that mob or will it be the first time he finds the facts will protect him.