Judge denies admission of evidence allegedly connecting Kyle Rittenhouse to Proud Boys

Kyle Rittenhouse, right, attended a pretrial hearing in May at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

(CNN)A judge in Wisconsin sided with defense attorneys Friday and denied motions filed by prosecutors seeking to admit evidence at trial showing Kyle Rittenhouse's involvement in a previous fight and his alleged association with the Proud Boys.

Among their multiple motions filed, prosecutors were hoping to admit evidence Rittenhouse had an association with the Proud Boys, a group linked to political violence.
In January, Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty to two felony charges of homicide in the deaths of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, and felony attempted homicide for wounding Gaige Grosskreutz during protests in August 2020, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Specifically, in regard to January 2021, months after the Kenosha shooting, when Rittenhouse went to a local bar with his mother about 90 minutes after his arraignment, Rittenhouse posed for pictures with individuals seen flashing the 'OK' sign, which prosecutors say has been co-opted as a sign of 'white power' by known white supremacist groups.
According to prosecutors, they have since learned some of the people he posed with were in the "highest echelons" of the Wisconsin chapter of the Proud Boys.
Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi said, "There's no information Mr. Rittenhouse knew who they were."
"For this to be considered by you (Judge Schroeder), there must be evidence... that on August 25th, 2020 Kyle Rittenhouse was either a member of the Proud Boys or had loyalties to that group," said Chirafisi, who added there was no evidence of that.
Kenosha County Judge Schroeder agreed with the defense, "For me to let that in as evidence for a motive that existed four months earlier? Can't see it."
On the January 2021 Rittenhouse bar appearance, Schroeder ruled, "There's still no suggestion in the evidence ... that this was anything other than a happenstance occurrence."
A separate motion involved recently discovered video, taken two weeks before the Kenosha shooting, which showed Rittenhouse talking about an AR rifle and wanting to shoot people he allegedly thought were looting a CVS store.
Prosecutors said the video shows that he "eagerly made assumptions about the intentions of others even though he knew absolutely nothing about what was going on. The video also demonstrates that the defendant fervently sought to insert himself as an armed vigilante into situations that had nothing to do with him," court documents allege.
Chirafisi argued Rittenhouse could have inserted himself but didn't, "He never made contact with those people at CVS. He doesn't even step from the vehicle to verbally confront them in any way. He doesn't do anything."
Schroeder said, "The events are so totally dissimilar," and that for now, "I'm going to withhold a final decision with a bias toward refusing."
As part of a third motion filed, prosecutors were hoping to admit a June 2020 incident, when they say Rittenhouse was involved in a physical altercation that began between his sister and someone else.
"The defendant is essentially a teenage vigilante, involving himself in things that don't concern him," said Binger during the motions hearing Friday. "It shows that his understanding of self-defense ... is a certain way."
Chirafisi argued the fight "adds nothing to that determination as to whether or not his actions were or were not in self-defense ... as it relates to his state of mind two and a half months later."
Schroeder agreed in his ruling, "I don't see any connection here at all so that request is denied." The judge added he was "virtually certain" if he had admitted it, it would end up in a reversal if Rittenhouse was convicted.
Rittenhouse appeared in person to the motions hearing Friday in a suit and tie alongside his attorneys.
Jury selection in the Rittenhouse trial is expected to begin November 1, for which both prosecutors and defense attorneys affirmed Friday they will be ready.
Schroeder deferred his decision to a later date in determining whether juror questionnaires will be sent out before jury selection.