Kyle Rittenhouse testifies in his own defense

By Mike Hayes, Maureen Chowdhury, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya, Melissa Mahtani and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 9:20 PM ET, Wed November 10, 2021
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4:01 p.m. ET, November 10, 2021

Rittenhouse judge admonished the prosecutor twice during cross-examination. Here's why.

From CNN’S Eric Levenson 

(Pool)
(Pool)

Twice during cross-examination, Judge Bruce Schroeder asked the jury to leave the courtroom and then sharply admonished Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger for his line of questioning.

The first incident related to Binger’s questions about Rittenhouse’s post-arrest silence, a right solidified in the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution.

“The problem is this is a grave constitutional violation for you to talk about the defendant’s silence,” Schroeder said. “You’re right on the borderline, and you may be over, but it better stop.”

The second admonishment related to questions about an incident two weeks before the shootings that Schroeder has said would not be permitted to come into evidence. 

“Your honor, Mr. Binger is either forgetting court's rulings or attempting to provoke a mistrial in this a matter,” defense attorney Mark Richards told the judge. “He knows he can’t go into this and he’s asking the questions. I ask the court to strongly admonish him and the next time it happens, I will be asking for a mistrial with prejudice. He’s an experienced attorney and he knows better.”

Binger said he believed that incident was newly relevant to the case, but Schroeder criticized him for not asking permission first and affirmed the evidence would not be allowed.

“I apologize, your honor. You're right, I probably should have brought this to your attention earlier. I may have misunderstood your ruling because I thought your ruling was if the evidence in this case made that more relevant, you would admit it or at least considered it's admittance,” Binger said.

Binger said he thought the circumstances would be different because the judge had said he hadn’t heard anything in the trial to change his rulings prior to Rittenhouse’s testimony. 

“Don’t get brazen with me,” Schroeder told Binger. “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.”

1:03 p.m. ET, November 10, 2021

The court is in a lunch break

The court is taking a break for lunch until 2 p.m. ET.

The prosecution has been cross-examining Kyle Rittenhouse about how the night of the shooting unfolded.

Before the prosecution began, Rittenhouse testified that he was scared for his life and acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in what is likely to be the pivotal testimony of his homicide trial.

"I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself," he testified.

1:13 p.m. ET, November 10, 2021

Judge Schroeder is viewed as a tough jurist: "He doesn't like to be pushed around by either party"

From CNN's Ray Sanchez

(Pool)
(Pool)

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder is known to be viewed as a tough jurist.

During today's line of questioning, Schroeder stopped prosecutor Thomas Binger's cross-examination of Kyle Rittenhouse to admonish the prosecution team's line of questioning.

The two had a testy exchange after the judge asked the jury to leave the courtroom.

Schroeder also made headlines last month by reiterating his longstanding rule of not allowing prosecutors to refer to people as "victims" before juries in his courtroom.

At the same time, Schroeder said at a pretrial hearing that the men who were shot could be described as "looters" or "rioters" if the defense can show they engaged in such activity during protests after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in August 2020, leaving Blake paralyzed.

His decision immediately sparked debate and in some cases outrage in legal circles and Schroeder, the longest serving active judge in Wisconsin's trial courts was, once again, thrust into the spotlight.

"His word is final and he's not afraid to make tough decisions," said Dan Adams, a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor.

Schroeder, 75, has come under scrutiny many times during his nearly 40 years on the bench: From a 2018 sentence — thrown out on appeal — requiring a convicted shoplifter to tell store managers she was on supervision for retail theft, to ordering AIDS tests for sex workers in the late 1980s.

"He has a reputation for doing what he believes is the right thing and being an independent thinker," said William Lynch, a retired attorney who served on the board of the ACLU of Wisconsin at the time of Schroeder ruling about the AIDS tests.

"And it's his courtroom. He doesn't like to be pushed around by either party. So he has a strong sense of his own his bearing in the courtroom," Lynch said.

CNN has sought comment from Schroeder.

A seasoned southeast Wisconsin attorney who has appeared before Schroeder many times described the judge as "someone who has studied the Constitution and the enumerated rights for criminal defendants and... respects the right of the defense to put on a defense."

"He's a super old school guy," said the attorney, who asked not to be named because he still appears before Schroeder.

"And that doesn't mean that he's old. I mean he's 75 years old, which is older than most judges, but he's just an old school guy. He still operates his courtroom like it's 1980."

Schroeder will be 80 when his current terms ends in 2026.

The Wisconsin defense attorney who asked not to be identified noted that Schroeder's sharp tongue and sometimes combative manner have "mellowed" over the years.

"He barks some and, for younger lawyers, they are very sensitive to that sort of thing. 'Oh, the judge yelled at me.'" the attorney said. "Like, toughen up, buttercup. This is felony court. Older lawyers are like, 'Okay, he yelled at me. And then I saw him in the hallway and he asked me how my son's basketball game was.' That's just his style."

Read more here.

12:37 p.m. ET, November 10, 2021

Judge admonishes prosecutor over Rittenhouse cross-examination

(Pool)
(Pool)

Judge Bruce Schroeder stopped prosecutor Thomas Binger's cross-examination of Kyle Rittenhouse to admonish the prosecution team's line of questioning.

The two had a testy exchange after the judge asked the jury to leave the courtroom.

"Don't get brazen with me," Schroeder told Binger.

The exchange is ongoing.

2:33 p.m. ET, November 10, 2021

Rittenhouse says he chose an AR-15 in part because it "looked cool"

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

(Pool)
(Pool)

Kyle Rittenhouse testified that when he chose a gun for his friend, Dominick Black, to purchase for him, he selected an AR-15 over a pistol because he believed he could not legally possess a pistol, and thought the AR-15 "looked cool."

"So you're telling us that the reason that you wanted Dominic to buy you an AR-15 as opposed to a pistol... the only reason is because you felt you couldn't lawfully possess a pistol?" asked prosecutor Thomas Binger.

"Correct," responded Rittenhouse.

"You didn't pick out the AR-15 for any other reason?" continued Binger.

"I thought it looked cool, but, no," responded Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse then agreed with the prosecutor that he had not purchased the weapon to hunt, or for home protection, again saying he, "thought it looked cool if that's a reason."

Rittenhouse then took issue with the prosecutor's suggestion that he might have chosen the AR-15 because similar weapons appear in first-person shooter video games, saying "there are guns in video games that resemble all guns."

"It's just a video game," he said later in the exchange. "It's not real life."

1:42 p.m. ET, November 10, 2021

Rittenhouse testifies he didn't intend to kill anyone, but agrees he used "deadly force"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Prosecutor Thomas Binger is now cross-examining defendant Kyle Rittenhouse. The ADA opened his questioning of Rittenhouse by asking, "Everyone you shot at that night you intended to kill, correct?"

"I didn't intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me," Rittenhouse said.

When Binger pressed Rittenhouse that he stopped these people by "killing them," Rittenhouse pushed back, responding, "Two of them passed away, but I stopped the threat from attacking me."

Rittenhouse agreed with Binger that he intentionally used "deadly force" on his victims that night.

"I didn't know if it was going to kill them, but I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me."

The cross-examination is ongoing.

1:42 p.m. ET, November 10, 2021

Rittenhouse testifies that he saw a pistol in shooting victim Gaige Grosskreutz's hand before he shot him

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Kyle Rittenhouse testified that after he fell to the ground, he saw Gaige Grosskreutz standing in front of him. He said that he saw a pistol in Grosskreutz's hand.

"My rifle is down. His hands are up. His pistol is in his hand, and then he looks at me, and that's when he brings his arm down...like his arm is like that with me on the ground and his pistol is pointed at me," Rittenhouse testified.

"That's when I shoot him," he continued.

He said that he shot Grosskreutz once but did not know where he shot him.

Rittenhouse shot Grosskreutz once in his right bicep with his AR-15 rifle. Grosskreutz was the only shooting victim to survive.

Asked by his attorney what happened after he shot Grosskreutz, Rittenhouse said, "He's no longer a threat to me."

12:54 p.m. ET, November 10, 2021

Rittenhouse says Anthony Huber was "holding a skateboard like a baseball bat" when he shot him

From CNN’s Carma Hassan

After shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, Kyle Rittenhouse described running past Anthony Huber toward the police line.

“As I'm running past Mr. Huber, he's holding a skateboard like a baseball bat and he swings it down and I block it with my arm trying to prevent it from hitting me, but it still hits me in the neck. And as I block it, it goes flying somewhere off into the distance,” Rittenhouse said.

He says he got light-headed and fell to the ground.

“As I’m on the ground, there are people around me, I don’t recall how many, but I remember moving my rifle in their direction and they back off besides one person,” Rittenhouse said.  

Rittenhouse said that person jumped at him.

“As his boot is making contact with my face, I fire two shots at him,” Rittenhouse said.

“Why did you shoot at him?” defense attorney Mike Richards asked.

“He would have stomped my face in if I didn’t fire,” Rittenhouse replied. 

Rittenhouse said Huber then ran over and hit him a second time in the neck with a skateboard and grabbed at his gun.

“I can feel the strap starting to come off my body,” Rittenhouse said.

11:53 a.m. ET, November 10, 2021

Kyle Rittenhouse describes shooting: "I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself."

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Kyle Rittenhouse said that as he was running, shooting victim Joseph Rosenbaum threw a bag and a chain at him. He said that another person with Rosenbaum told him, "get him, kill him."

Rittenhouse said that he pointed his gun at Rosenbaum, who continued to chase him.

"After he throws the bag and he continues to run, he's gaining speed on me, a gunshot is fired from behind me, directly behind me. I take a few steps, and that's when I turn around. As I'm turning around, Mr. Rosenbaum is ... coming at me with his arms out in front of him. I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun."

Defense attorney Mark Richards asked Rittenhouse, "As you see him lunging at you, what do you do?" 

"I shoot him," he responded.

Asked by his attorney how many times he shot Rosenbaum, he said, "I believe four." 

Rittenhouse said that he continued running with the intention of going to the police.

Asked why he was trying to get to the police, Rittenhouse said, "Because I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself."