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Defense cross-examines witness, focuses on impression of Rosenbaum

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We’re into day five of the trial for Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager charged with killing two people and wounding a third during violent protests in Kenosha last year after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

In addition to counts of intentional, reckless and attempted homicide, and reckless endangerment, and curfew violation, Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with possessing a firearm as a minor, a misdemeanor.

Check below for updates as Journal Sentinel reporters and photographers cover the trial. You can also read about what happened on day one, two, three and four of the trial. The trial is expected to last two weeks, but could move into a third week.

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Defense cross-examines witness, focuses on how his impression of Rosenbaum might have been different under other circumstances

Corey Chirafisi, one of Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense attorneys, pressed Jason Lackowski about his impression of Joseph Rosenbaum the night Rittenhouse fatally shot him.

Friday morning, Lackowski told a prosecutor he did not consider Rosenbaum a threat. During cross-examination, Chirafisi asked if that would have changed if Rosenbaum had approached him alone.

No, Lackowski replied.

Lackowski said Rosenbaum had not threatened to kill him and had not done more than “false-stepping” towards him.

Chirafisi, the defense attorney, asked if his impression would have changed if Rosenbaum ran toward him.

“The situation dictates,” Lackowski said.

Chirafisi then asked if he would be more concerned if someone was running full speed at him, and Lackowski said yes, he would.

“If I threatened to kill you if I saw you that night, and then I’m running full speed at you and I’m going for your gun, are all those things you would have considered when making a decision what to do against somebody like me?” Chirafisi said.

“A threat to my life, yes,” Lackowski said.

Chirafisi then moved on to questioning about homemade chlorine gas bombs used on the streets of Kenosha that night. He did not ask Lackowski to clarify if he specifically meant he would have considered Rosenbaum a threat to his life in that situation.

Lackowski had described Rosenbaum as asking to be shot during the prosecutor’s questioning. Chirafisi asked if Rosenbaum was specifically standing on a street court yelling “Shoot me!” and then “using the n-word.”

Lackowski said that was accurate, and Chirafisi asked how the crowd reacted to Rosenbaum’s statements.

“In a negative manner,” Lackowski said, saying people physically moved away from Rosenbaum.

Lackowski said he encountered Rittenhouse running away from the shootings. He told the FBI that he thought Rittenhouse said he did not shoot anyone but needed help.

Chirafisi asked if he might have misremembered, given that Lackowski had described “blacking out” in the time period between seeing Rittenhouse running away and coming across Gaige Grosskreutz, the man Rittenhouse shot in the arm. Lackowski had said he helped treat Grosskreutz’s injuries.

“So again, I’m not being critical, how certain are you that in fact he didn’t say ‘I did shoot someone and I need help’ versus ‘I didn’t shoot someone but I need help,’” Chirafisi said.

“I don’t honestly recall,” Lackowski said.

Lackowski has been testifying since about 9 a.m. and the judge called for a break about 10:40 a.m.

— Ashley Luthern

Veteran describes meeting Rittenhouse, Rosenbaum the night of the shootings

Jason Lackowski, a Marine veteran, told jurors Friday morning he traveled from Brown Deer to Kenosha to “help out.”

“I saw the community in trouble and I wanted to come help anyway I could,” Lackowski said.

He was armed with an AR-15 and prepared to “shout, shove, show, shoot,” outlining steps to deter activity by shouting, then shoving individuals, showing a weapon and then shooting the weapon.

Under questioning from Thomas Binger, the prosecutor, Lackowski said he never had to go past the shouting step that night.

Lackowski described meeting Kyle Rittenhouse, who introduced himself by name and said he was an emergency medical technician.

“I assumed he was 18,” Lackowski said.

He said he made that assumption because of requirements to have an EMT license and to purchase a rifle. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time.

Lackowski described the situation as chaotic with certain people “wreaking havoc.” He saw people trying to set fires and throwing rocks and other objects.

Binger asked if Joseph Rosenbaum, the man who Rittenhouse shot and killed that night, was one of them. Lackowski said no, and that he had one encounter with Rosenbaum, whom he described as a “babbling idiot.”

Rosenbaum had been acting “very belligerently,” Lackowski said, and Rosenbaum had been “very bluntly” asking people to shoot him. The Washington Post has reported that Rosenbaum, 36, had been released from a hospital earlier that day following a suicide attempt.

In court Friday, Lackowski said Rosenbaum was doing something he described as “false stepping,” as if to entice somebody to do something. At that point, Lackowski said he turned his back and ignored Rosenbaum.

“Did you consider him a threat?” Binger said.

“No,” Lackowski said.

“Did you feel that he posed any danger to you or anyone else?” Binger asked.

“No,” he replied.

Binger continued to question Lackowski Friday morning.

— Ashley Luthern

Prosecutor to call seventh witness

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger expects to call Jason Lackowski to the stand first Friday morning.

Lackowski, the state’s seventh witness, traveled to Kenosha with Ryan Balch, an Army veteran from Washington County.

Balch testified Thursday that he went to Kenosha with body armor, rifles and handguns to try to stop “rioting and looting and what not.”

As court got underway Friday, a female juror was dismissed at her request because of medical conditions surrounding her pregnancy.

In the gallery, Kevin Mathewson took a seat in the front row reserved for media members.

Mathewson, a private investigator and former Kenosha city alderman, put out a Facebook post last August calling for people to show up and protect the city. The defense has said Rittenhouse did not see the Facebook post.

Mathewson has said he is observing the trial as media because he runs Kenosha County Eye. It’s unclear if he will be called to testify.

— Ashley Luthern and Bruce Vielmetti

Trial likely to extend into third week

Friday will mark day five in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, and the halfway point in the state’s case.

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger indicated Thursday that he expected to rest Tuesday. Unless the defense can present its case in two days, it’s looking like the trial could extend into a third week.

So far, Binger has presented only one detective witness, mostly to introduce more than a dozen videos of what was happening downtown the night of Aug. 25, 2020.

There are many dozens of law enforcement officers from several agencies on the state’s witness list, so expect to see some on the witness stand Friday.

Gaige Grosskreutz, the man Rittenhouse shot in the arm, is now not expected to testify until next week. Another key witness, Joshua Ziminski, who was with Joseph Rosenbaum much of the night and fired a shot in the air right before Rittenhouse killed Rosenbaum, also hasn’t testified yet.

Thursday started with the dismissal of a juror for trying to tell an inappropriate joke about Jacob Blake to a sheriff’s deputy.

The remaining 19 jurors then heard from two very interesting witnesses. Richie McGinnis, a videographer with The Daily Caller, a conservative news site, had interviewed Rittenhouse as he stood guard in front of a business. About 15 minutes later, he was trying to record again as ran behind Joseph Rosenbaum as he chased Rittenhouse.

When Rittenhouse stopped, turned and shot Rosenbaum four times as he lunged for Rittenhouse’s AR 15 style weapon, McGinnis was just 15 feet away, nearly in the line of fire.

He and others tried to render aid to Rosenbaum and carried him a hospital across the street.

Ryan Balch is an Army veteran who came from Washington County with friends, with body armor, rifles and handguns, to try to stop “rioting and looting and what not.”

His group joined with Rittenhouse and his friends, whom they had just met, to help protect the businesses. He described Rittenhouse as “a young impressionable kid” who was “under equipped and under experienced.”

But Rittenhouse seemed very interested in Balch’s life and time in the Army, and Balch said he tried to look out for and advise Rittenhouse about how to act in the situation.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kyle Rittenhouse trial live updates: Jason Lackowski testifies



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