Jury in Rittenhouse trial takes deliberations into fourth day, MSNBC banned by judge

·3-min read

By Nathan Layne and Brendan McDermid

KENOSHA, Wis. (Reuters) -Jurors in the Wisconsin murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse ended their third day of deliberations on Thursday without reaching a verdict, as the judge banned MSNBC from the courthouse after a freelancer for the network got close to a bus carrying the jury.

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and attempted homicide in the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, during a chaotic night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Aug. 25, 2020.

There were no notes from the jury on Thursday to indicate the focus of their deliberations. On Wednesday the jury had asked to re-watch a series of videos of the shootings, including drone footage at the heart of a mistrial motion by the defense.

Michael F. Hart, a criminal defense lawyer in Milwaukee, said the lack of a note, which would normally be sent to the judge to relay a difficulty in coming to a consensus, suggests it is too early to conclude the jury is deadlocked.

"It could just be one or two holdouts," Hart said, cautioning against reading too much into the lack of a verdict after three days. "It’s a guessing game and it's anyone’s guess."

At the end of the day when Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder asked the jurors if they had any questions, one asked if she could take home the 36 pages of jury instructions, which includes details on the different charges and requirements for finding guilt. Schroeder said that she could and told the jury of 7 women and 5 men to return on Friday at 9 a.m. Central Time (1500 GMT) for a fourth day of deliberations in the divisive trial.

Outside the courthouse pro-Rittenhouse protesters squared off with demonstrators calling for his conviction, leading to some intense shouting matches but no violence. Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth handed out coffee and cookies to the crowd to try and keep the protests peaceful.

Earlier on Thursday, Schroeder banned MSNBC from the courthouse after a freelancer for the media network was detained by police close to a bus carrying the jury. Police said they suspected he was trying to photograph the jurors.

Security of the jury has been a concern for authorities, and jurors have been ferried back and forth to the courthouse from an unidentified location in a bus with covered windows.

"I've instructed that no one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial," Schroeder said in court. "This is a very serious matter and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is."

NBC News said a freelancer for the network was cited for a traffic violation but did not try to make contact with jurors.

“While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them," a spokesperson said in a statement.

"We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation.

While media organizations often seek post-verdict interviews with jurors, judges instruct jurors to avoid contact with anyone about the case during the trial.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, has pleaded not guilty and testified last week that he fired his weapon in self defense. If convicted on the most serious of three homicide charges, Rittenhouse could be sentenced to life in prison.

The shootings took place in Kenosha during protests - marred by arson, rioting and looting - that followed the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.

Views on the trial have largely split along ideological lines, with Rittenhouse considered a hero by some conservatives who favor expansive gun rights and as a symbol of an out-of-control American gun culture by many on the left.

(Reporting by Nathan Layne and Brendan McDermid in Kenosha, Wisconsin; Editing by Grant McCool and Alistair Bell)

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