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Trial includes testimony from man who was armed with a rifle, like Kyle Rittenhouse was, on August 25, 2020 in Kenosha

Witness Ryan Balch, 31, testifies during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Nov. 4, 2021.
Mark Hertzberg
ZUMA Press Wire via Pool
Witness Ryan Balch, 31, testifies during the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, Nov. 4, 2021.

The prosecution's case against Kyle Rittenhouse continued Friday at his homicide trial in Kenosha County Circuit Court. Rittenhouse, who's now 18 years old, is from Illinois. He fatally shot two men and wounded a third last year during unrest that followed the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, Jr.

Thursday afternoon, Kenosha County prosecutor Thomas Binger put Ryan Balch on the witness stand. Ryan Balch is a Washington County resident who traveled to Kenosha the day of the shootings. Like Rittenhouse, Balch carried around a high-powered rifle. Both said they were there to help protect Kenosha businesses.

The prosecution is attacking Rittenhouse's claim that he shot the three men in self-defense. Binger asked Balch about his warning to Rittenhouse to keep his mouth quiet, and not interact with protesters after the two men left an area protected by police.

"Just because it can cause somebody to escalate the situation, if they feel like you're making fun of them a little bit. So, it just wasn't needed," Balch said.

But Rittenhouse did interact with Joseph Rosenbaum, who wound up being the first man killed by the then-17-year-old.

During cross-examination, Rittenhouse’s attorney, Mark Richards, asked Balch about the defense contention that Rosenbaum threatened the armed men.

"And he specifically said if he got either of you alone, he would expletive 'kill you,'” Richards said.

“That's correct," Balch said.

"Any doubt about that?" Richards asked.

“No doubt about that at all," Balch said.

"You told the FBI that?" Richards asked.

"Yes," Balch said.

The FBI interviewed Balch a few days after the shooting. Prosecutor Binger wrapped up his questioning Thursday by asking Balch about his claim to federal agents, in which Balch said Rosenbaum was carrying harmful chemicals in a plastic bag.

“You then say later on, this is on page four: 'Balch examined the bag quickly and observed an ammonium mixture and a small bleach bottle.' None of that is true. Is it?” Binger asked.

"It doesn't appear to be. No," Balch said.

Defense attorney Richards responded that the FBI doesn't allow people the agency has interviewed to review the agents' reports for accuracy.

The prosecution says it hopes to wrap up its case against Rittenhouse by next Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.

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