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Judge Rules Men Shot By Kenosha Gunman Kyle Rittenhouse May Not Be Called ‘Victims’ At Upcoming Trial

"The word 'victim' is a loaded, loaded word,” Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder stated this week. “And I think 'alleged victim' is a cousin to it.”

By Dorian Geiger
Kyle Rittenhouse Pleads Not Guilty To All Charges

A Wisconsin judge has said he will prohibit prosecutors from using the term “victims,” when referring to injured individuals in Kyle Rittenhouse’s approaching trial.

Prosecutors must instead use "complaining witness" or "decedent" to refer to the men who 18-year-old Rittenhouse allegedly shot during citywide protests in Kenosha in the wake of Jacob Blake’s 2020 shooting by police, NBC News reported.

"The word 'victim' is a loaded, loaded word,” Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder stated this week. “And I think 'alleged victim' is a cousin to it.”

Rittenhouse is charged with felony homicide in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. He’s pleaded not guilty.

However, Rittenhouse’s attorneys may be allowed to call Rosenbaum, Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz, who was wounded in the shooting “rioters,” “looters” or “arsonists” during the trial, as NPR reported. His legal team has insisted he acted in self-defense in the shootings.

"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 added during the case’s pre-trial hearing, according to CNN.

Prosecutors blasted the circuit judge's ruling surrounding the case's language as unfair and hypocritical.

"The terms that I'm identifying here, such as 'rioter,' 'looter' and 'arsonist,' are as loaded, if not more loaded, than the term 'victim,'" Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Binger also told Schroeder in court that the judge has "not let me call someone a victim when it was proven." 

Rittenhouse’s legal team previously claimed that their client opened fire on Rosenbaum, one of the demonstrators the teen fatally shot during a Black Lives Matter protest last summer because he was a convicted sex offender. 

“As a convicted felon and sex offender, he was unable to legally possess a firearm he was seeking to steal from my client,” Mark Richards told Oxygen.com in July.

It is unclear if and how Rittenhouse knew anything about the man's legal history when he shot him to death. 

Defense lawyer Corey Chirafisi has contended that Rittenhouse was being stalked, "attacked by the mob," and was clubbed with a skateboard before he gunned down the men. 

Prosecutors have firmly pushed back on the defense's narrative.

"This is an attempt to tell the jury that Mr. Rosenbaum was a bad guy who deserved to die,” Binger added, the Chicago Tribune reported. “That’s really what’s going on here, your honor.”

Some legal experts said such rulings surrounding technical language in criminal cases involving use of "victim," isn't all that unusual.

"That's pretty standard in his courtroom to not allow 'victim,'" Ted Kmiec, a Wisconsin criminal defense attorney, who is familiar Schroeder's judicial record, told NBC News. "He believes you're presumed innocent, and with that presumption of innocence, nobody is a victim unless it's proven."

Jury selection in the case is set for next week, Milwaukee radio station WUWM reported

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