UPDATED, with NBC News statement: The judge in the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse has banned MSNBC from the Kenosha, WI, courthouse after an incident in which a man who identified himself as a producer for the network was suspected of following a jury bus.
“I have instructed that no one from MSNBC News will be permitted in this building for the duration of this trial,” Judge Bruce Schroeder said. “This is a very serious matter, and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is, but absolutely it would go without much thinking that someone who is following a jury bus, that is an extremely serious matter and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action.”
Schroeder identified the man as James J. Morrison. He said that Morrison identified himself to police as a producer for NBC News and employed by MSNBC. The judge said that Morrison told authorities his supervisor had told him to follow the bus, and he went through a red light as he tried to follow the vehicle.
A spokesperson for NBC News said in a statement, “Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. 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. We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation.”
Kenosha Police said that on Wednesday night, “a person who is alleging to be affiliated with a national media outlet was briefly taken into custody and issued several traffic related citations. Police suspect this person was trying to photograph jurors. This incident is being investigated much further.”
Rittenhouse, now 18, is on trial for killing two men and wounding another during the protests that followed a police shooting in Kenosha, WI in the summer of 2020. His attorneys claim that he acted in self defense, while prosecutors have described him as “wannabe” soldier who came from out of town to be part of the protests.
The jury in the trial is in its third day of deliberations. Rittenhouse faces five felony charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, along with two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
Wisconsin court rules generally prohibit media outlets from taking photos or other images of jurors, while judges typically instruct the jury not to have any contact with the media during the trial.
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