Prosecutors Can't Call Two Men Kyle Rittenhouse Fatally Shot 'Victims' During Trial: Judge

Prosecutors cannot refer to the two men fatally shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year as "victims" in the teenager's upcoming trial.

Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled Monday that the term victims was off the table but Rittenhouse's attorneys could describe the men as "rioters" or "looters" if they can produce the evidence.

"If more than 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 during a hearing.

The judge later added, "The word victim is a loaded, loaded word. And I think alleged victim is a cousin to it."

The Chicago Tribune reported that such rulings are not uncommon in self-defense cases.

Rittenhouse allegedly fatally shot two people during a protest last year and injured a third in August 2020. The two men killed were Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, survived his injuries.

At the time of the shootings, the city was blanketed by demonstrations following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Blake, a Black father, was left partially paralyzed after being hit in the back.

Prosecutors have said Rittenhouse, then 17, traveled from his home in Illinois to Kenosha where he opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle.

Rittenhouse faces multiple felony counts, including reckless homicide and reckless endangerment. He also faces a misdemeanor count of being a minor in possession of a firearm.

The trial is set to begin November 1. Rittenhouse, now 18, has pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Rittenhouse's attorneys have argued that the teen was acting in self-defense and that he went to Kenosha to protect businesses. He turned himself in to police in Illinois several hours later, telling law enforcement that the three men attacked him.

John Black, a use-of-force expert for Rittenhouse's defense team, told the judge earlier this month that the teen was in "reactionary mode" when he fired his weapon.

Newsweek reached out to assistant district attorney Binger's office for comment, but didn't receive a response before publication.

Men Rittenhouse Shot Can't Be Called 'Victims'
Prosecutors cannot refer to the two men fatally shot by Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year as “victims” in the teenager’s upcoming trial. In this photo, a man wears a shirt calling for freedom for Kyle Rittenhouse, during a Trump campaign rally at Manchester airport in Londonderry, New Hampshire, on August 28, 2020. Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images

Many conservatives rallied around Rittenhouse following the shootings, calling him a patriot for trying to intervene in the chaotic protests. Rittenhouse supporters raised more than $2 million to cover his bail.

Last month, the judge ruled prosecutors can't link Rittenhouse to the Proud Boys.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger asked to argue at trial that Rittenhouse subscribes to the white supremacist group's philosophies. Binger noted that the teen was seen at a bar with Proud Boys members in January and met with the group's national president earlier this year.

The judge ruled that there's no evidence Rittenhouse was affiliated with the group on the night of the shootings.