CHICAGO (CBS)– As day three of jury deliberations were underway in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial, the judge banned MSNBC from the courthouse, after police suspected one of their freelancers of following the jury bus and trying to take pictures of the jurors.
Judge Bruce Schroeder said James J. Morrison was questioned and ticketed after being caught following the bus used to bring jurors to and from the courthouse, suspected of trying to take pictures of the jury on Wednesday evening. In a statement, the network acknowledged Morrison was a freelancer but “never contacted or intended to contact jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them.”READ MORE: Suspect Arrested In Killing Of Church Employee Evelyn Player, Baltimore Police Say
Schroeder called it a “very extremely serious matter” given that the jury is being kept anonymous. The jurors are transported to and from court in a bus that has its windows covered to prevent the jury from seeing any protests outside the courthouse.
The judge said Morrison ran a red light while following the bus, and while being questioned said his boss told him to follow the jury bus, but it’s not clear why. “This is a very serious matter, and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is,” Schroeder said.
Schroeder said the incident remains under investigation, but MSNBC staff will not be allowed in the courthouse for the duration of the trial.
Kenosha Police said the man was issued several traffic violations.
“Police suspect this person was trying to photograph jurors. This incident is being investigated much further,” police said in a statement. “There was no breach of security regarding the jury, nor were there any photographs obtained.”
Jurors completed a second day of deliberations on Wednesday without reaching a verdict, but spent about 45 minutes reviewing video evidence from the case.
Meanwhile, issues surrounding the video prompted the defense to call for a mistrial again.
Jurors have been deliberating approximately 16 hours over the past two days so far.READ MORE: Community Says Farewell At Funeral Of Church Employee Evelyn Player
About two hours into their second day of deliberations on Wednesday, the jury asked the judge to view some of the videos that were presented at trial.
Prosecutors said jurors should be able to watch any of the videos of the shootings as many times as they want, but defense attorneys objected to allowing the jury to view drone video of Rittenhouse shooting and killing Joseph Rosenbaum, and the defense team is seeking a mistrial over that video, claiming prosecutors provided them with a lower quality version of the video, which was improper.
“We got a compressed version, which was not of the quality that they had,” said defense attorney Corey Chirafisi. “That doesn’t strike me as fair.”
This was the second call for a mistrial, which prosecutors rebuffed and called “inappropriate.”
Prosecutors said they sent the defense the same version of the video they received, and believe because it was being transferred from a prosecutor’s Apple phone to a defense attorney’s Android phone, the file was compressed during transfer. When both sides later learned the defense had received a lower quality version of the video, prosecutors provided the defense with the higher-quality version.
Schroeder said he would let jurors watch the drone video if they want to see it, but he also wants to hear from expert witnesses outside the presence of the jury regarding the dispute over the quality of the video the defense team received, and if there are problems with the handling of the video, it could cause the case to fall apart in the event of an appeal.
Jurors heard from more than 30 witnesses during two weeks of testimony.
Rittenhouse, 18, faces five felony charges in the August 2020 shootings that killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, during a chaotic night of protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time of the shootings.
A total of 500 National Guard troops are standing by in case of possible unrest once a verdict is reached.MORE NEWS: Baltimore City Cancels Its New Year's Eve Fireworks Show