By SCOTT BAUER and MICHAEL TARM
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse played a direct role Tuesday in deciding, albeit randomly, who will be the final 12 jurors that will decide his innocence or guilt in the murder trial over his killing two protesters and injuring a third last summer.
At the direction of Circuit Judge Bruce Schroder, Rittenhouse’s attorney placed slips of paper into a raffle drum with the numbers of each of the 18 jurors on it who sat through the two-week trial. The drum had been sitting on a window ledge throughout the trial but was placed in front of Rittenhouse at the defense table Tuesday.
Rittenhouse then selected six pieces of paper from the drum, who a court official then read aloud to be dismissed: 11, 58, 14, 45, 9 and 52.
The jurors won’t be part of the final 12 who were deliberating the case. But they were required to remain in the courthouse, at the request of the defense, until the jury returned with a verdict.
Julius Kim, a former Milwaukee County assistant district attorney, said he’s never seen a judge allow a defendant to draw the numbers to determine who the final members of a jury will be.
“It’s not unusual to select alternates by lot,” Kim said. ”(But) I’ve never seen a judge allow a defendant to draw those names. That might be a little unconventional but there’s nothing wrong with it that I could really see. I think the judge’s thinking here is it’s the defendant’s trial and the defendant pulling those names himself can be reassured it’s done fairly because it’s he himself who’s pulling the names.”
The Rittenhouse jury pool had started at 20, but one juror was dismissed for health reasons and another was let go after he told a joke related to the case to a bailiff.
The jury began deliberations on Tuesday minutes after Rittenhouse drew the numbers. The judge asked both sides to remain within 10 minutes of the courthouse in case there were questions.
Rittenhouse faces a myriad of charges after he killed two protesters and injured a third on the streets of Kenosha last summer. The protests were spurred by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, argues he acted in self-defense. The most serious charge before jurors could put Rittenhouse in prison for the rest of his life.
Schroeder, the judge in Rittenhouse’s trial, is the longest-serving circuit court judge in Wisconsin. The 75-year-old’s methods have drawn attention throughout the trial, including reading trivia questions to jurors at the outset, professing his lack of knowledge about modern technology, asking for applause for veterans on Veterans Day as a defense witness who served in the military was about to testify and sometimes speaking angrily at prosecutors when they pursued lines of questioning he had barred.
Associated Press writer Todd Richmond contributed to this story. Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin
Find AP’s full coverage of the Rittenhouse trial: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse
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