Kyle Rittenhouse’s jury once again deliberated without a conclusion on Thursday, and there was more drama in the courtroom. The seven women and five men wrapped up the third day of deliberations with a request to take home the obtuse jury instructions, and that is about all we know about their efforts to arrive at a verdict. The fireworks in court came when trial judge Bruce Schroeder revealed police had stopped an MSNBC producer in pursuit of jurors after court on Wednesday. He banned the network from the courthouse for the duration of the trial.
Newsgathering or Intimidation?
Judge Schroeder announced from the bench on Thursday that Kenosha police reported an MSNBC producer stalked jury members as they were transported from the courthouse. To preserve their anonymity and exposure to messages from protesters, the jurors are transported from the courthouse by bus to their cars, which are parked at an undisclosed location. The windows of the transport are blacked out so the jurors can neither be seen nor see the protesters.
A man named James J. Morrison followed – and then blew through a red light to keep up with – the jury bus as it left the courthouse. He was working for MSNBC under the supervision of NBC producer Irene Byon. According to the judge, Mr. Morrison explained “he had been instructed by Ms. Byon in New York to follow the jury bus.” After that, Schroeder announced that “no one from MSNBC news would be permitted in the building for the duration of the trial.” He called it an “extremely serious matter” and said it would be “referred to the proper authorities for further action.”
CNN’s Brian Stelter tweeted out a response from MSNBC’s parent, NBC. The statement read:
“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,” NBC adds.
Parsing that statement, the words “during deliberations” may be key. Perhaps the producer was stalking the jury to contact them after deliberations were completed. Merely indicating to jurors that they are no longer anonymous, however, may be trouble enough. The move could have profound implications for Mr. Rittenhouse’s right to a fair trial and the ultimate outcome of the criminal charges.
Verdict or Bust
While it’s important to beware any predictions of why the jury is taking so long, as the days wear on, the likelihood of a deadlock only increases. They will be back at it Friday morning at 9 a.m. Central Standard Time in the Kenosha courthouse.
~ Read more from Scott D. Cosenza.