A Wisconsin judge says the word “victim” is too “loaded” for this case.
Last summer, after Kenosha, Wisconsin police shot and paralyzed Jacob Blake, protests exploded all over the city. According to NPR, “protesters destroyed police cars, damaged storefronts and burned down a used-car dealership, a furniture store and a state parole office.”
In the midst of the mayhem, then 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who had travelled from his hometown in Illinois armed with an AR-15-style rifle, shot and killed two protestors, and wounded a third.
Rittenhouse was arrested and despite entering a plea of not guilty on charges of double homicide, faces life in prison.
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As Rittenhouse’s November trial date approaches, his defense team and the prosecutors in the case were summoned for a proceeding covering “the ground rules for the upcoming trial,” and in debating whether “certain language, witnesses or evidence,” would be allowed, it was decided that the three people Rittenhouse shot are not to be called “victims.”
“The word ‘victim’ is a loaded, loaded word. And I think ‘alleged victim’ is a cousin to it,” Judge Bruce Schroeder said, instead asking prosecutors to use the words “complaining witness” or “decedent” to refer to those shot and killed by Rittenhouse.
The defense, however, will be allowed to refer to the three people Rittenhouse shot as “arsonists,” “looters” or “rioters.” There are stipulations — the defense may only use those labels if there is proof those Rittenhouse shot had engaged in those activities.
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The trial is set to begin next week, with Rittenhouse facing “multiple felony charges of homicide and recklessly endangering the safety of others, along with one misdemeanor count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.” Along with not guilty pleas for the double homicide, Rittenhouse has plead not guilty to all other charges, as his defense team has argued that the shootings were in self defense.
What do you think of Schroeder’s ruling that prosecutors can’t call those shot by Rittenhouse “victims,” while his defense is free to use “arsonists,” “looters” and “rioters” to describe the same people? Let us know in the comments.