Attorneys bicker over drone footage central to defense request for mistrial

By Mark Guarino

3:17 p.m. 

Shortly after the jury requested to review video evidence as part of its deliberations, the judge and attorneys returned to the courtroom to hear defense arguments about drone footage that prosecutors first showed jurors during closing arguments Monday.

In a complaint central to their request for a mistrial, Rittenhouse’s defense argued the copy of the drone footage they received from the state is not the same as what jurors viewed and, for that reason, it should not be shown to jurors when they return to the courtroom to review during their deliberation.

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney James Kraus said the defense characterization that there were two versions of the drone video — one high-resolution and one low-resolution — was “factually inaccurate.”

That prompted a long back-and-forth between Kraus, Judge Bruce Schroeder and Natalie Wisco, a member of Rittenhouse’s defense team, over how the initial copy of the drone footage was shared between prosecutors and the defense. Prosecutors said they did not know the defense had a lower-quality version of the video until last week and suggested the video was possibly compressed because prosecutors had used an iPhone to share the footage with Wisco, who uses an Android phone.

“We cannot be held responsible for Ms. Wisco’s phone. We did not change anything,” Kraus said. “We of course did not mean to give them a different copy. … I cannot explain why Ms. Wisco’s was compressed. … There was no different copy. To somehow accuse us of compressing a file and using technological wizardry and somehow sabotaging the defense is preposterous.”

Kraus added that John Pierce, Rittenhouse’s previous attorney, had obtained a copy of the video early in the case and, back then, there was no issue with it. Pierce appeared on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News show and played the video — which Kraus pointed out to the judge.

But Mark Richards, the current defense attorney for Rittenhouse, said the video Pierce showed on the Carlson show “is very different from the video that was delivered” to his office. He added that the owner of the video — a company in Lake Geneva, about 35 miles west of Kenosha — shut down 17 days after the video was released, suggesting the source of the video was murky.

Schroeder said he was already “queasy” about the use of the drone video — reminding prosecutors of statements he made earlier this week warning that if the technology used to enhance it is eventually disproved, their case could fall like “a house of cards.”

But after a nearly 45-minute debate on the issue, it was revealed the argument was moot, for now. Jurors had requested to see three other videos — not the drone footage. The clips included a live stream taken by injured victim Gaige Grosskreutz in which he talks to Rittenhouse in the street and two videos of the final two shootings. The court ordered a “clean computer” for jurors to view that footage.

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