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Juror in Rittenhouse trial booted after joking about Blake shooting

Juror in Rittenhouse trial booted after joking about Blake shooting
Kyle Rittenhouse faces five felony charges related to homicide and reckless endangerment and two misdemeanor charges. File Photo courtesy of the Kenosha County, Wis., Sheriff's Department

Nov. 4 (UPI) -- The judge booted a juror from the Kyle Rittenhouse trial Thursday after he joked about the police shooting of Jacob Blake, which sparked protests in Wisconsin last year where Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and injured a third man.

Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the male juror on Thursday, the fourth day of the trial, after he made the joke to a sheriff's deputy about the shooting of Blake and the number of times he was shot, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

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The juror said he didn't think the joke had "anything do with" the trial when the judge asked him about it, but the judge said that it could create "the appearance of bias."

"It's clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case," Schroeder said regarding the dismissal.

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The juror's dismissal cuts the number of jurors to 19. Nine men and 11 women were selected from the field of 150 potential jurors for the trial on the first day day of the trial, and the number of jurors will be cut to 12 to reach a verdict. The process of selecting 12 impartial jurors was made difficult due to the high-profile nature of the case.

The case stems from then-17-year-old Rittenhouse fatally shooting Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, now 27, using an assault-style rifle during the Aug. 25, 2020, protest of the police shooting of Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the back, authorities have said.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including felony homicide and reckless endangerment, and some misdemeanor charges.

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Rittenhouse, now 18, and living in Antioch, Ill., was arrested a day later and was indicted as an adult on charges of being a fugitive from justice.

Rittenhouse's attorney has argued that he left his home across the border in Illinois and traveled to Kenosha to protect businesses during the protests, and that he feared for his life.

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Prosecutors say Rittenhouse flashed White supremacist symbols at a bar on Jan. 5, the day he pleaded not guilty to felony homicide and other crimes.

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The defense's argument has hinged on self-defense while prosecutors have said Rittenhouse acted recklessly and unreasonably, opening arguments Tuesday showed.

In other highlights of the trial, video showed Rittenhouse run away from Rosenbaum before Rittenhouse turned and shot him four times, CNN reported.

Richie McGinness, a chief video director for the conservative news website the Daily Caller testified about video footage, which showed Rittenhouse running into a parking lot chased by Rosenbaum, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

McGinness testified that Rosenbaum was not armed and was only carrying a plastic bag, which he threw at Rittenhouse, and that he believed Rittenhouse turned around in the parking lot because he was running into a corner.

"Night-of, it appeared to me that he turned around because he had reached a dead-end or something like that," McGinnesss said.

McGinness also testified that he saw Rittenhouse fire four shots at Rosenbaum after he saw Rosenbaum lunge with a forward "momentum" at Rittenhouse, though Rosenbaum might have been able to catch himself if he weren't shot.

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On the third day of the trial, the jury saw video taken from the night of the shooting and heard from police.

Rittenhouse faces five felony charges: first-degree intentional homicide, first degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.

Misdemeanor charges he faces include possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18 and non-criminal violation of failure to comply with an emergency order.

Last week, Schroeder ruled that attorneys in the trial may refer to Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz as "rioters," "looters," and "arsonists" -- but not as "victims."

"The word 'victim' is a loaded, loaded word," he said. "Alleged victim' is a cousin to it."

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