The judge in the Rittenhouse trial banned MSNBC from the courthouse on Thursday. An MSNBC freelance reporter/photographer identified as James J. Morrison was reportedly instructed by his producer, Irene Byon, in the York office to follow a jury bus associated with the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Police stopped the reporter about a block behind the jury bus for running a red light.
Irene Byon LinkedIn profile has been since deleted.
According to the judge, the jury is transported in a "sealed bus," where all the windows are covered, and the occupants inside are not visible. Judge Bruce Schroeder explained that when police inquired about his activity, Morrison told him he had been instructed by his producer Irene Byon "to follow the jury bus."
Jury intimidation is a serious matter, especially in high-profile cases like this one. The Rittenhouse trial has been one of the most widely followed trials in recent memory. Judge Shroeder admonished:
"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's an extremely serious matter and will be referred to the proper authorities for further action."
Brian Stelter with CNN tweeted a statement from NBC news, indicating they deny mal intention on Morrison's part. However, some reporting indicates he told police he was trying to photograph jurors. The incident is being investigated further.
Kyle Rittenhouse, age 17 at the time, went to Kenosha, Wisconsin, the night before the shootings for his job. He was staying with a friend. Kenosha was sieged with protests after police shot and wounded Jacob Blake while responding to a domestic abuse call on Aug. 23. Blake was left paralyzed, and the shooting caused several days of turmoil in the city. No charges were filed against the officer.
During the protests, local business owners were left to defend their businesses as they were being burned down, and an elderly man "was attacked and beaten by looters." According to freekyleusa.org, "about 80 businesses were affected, 30 to 40 of which were totaled, leveled or severely damaged." Rittenhouse, who has family in the area, traveled to Kenosha to help. At one point during the night, Rittenhouse was seen offering medical aid to people on the street. A chronology of events can be found on the Free Kyle website.
On August, 25, Rittenhouse fatally wounded two men, and another man, Gaige Grosskreutz, age 27 at the time, lost part of his bicep. Rittenhouse says he was acting in self-defense.
The prosecution, which has been reprimanded several times during the trial, allegedly withheld video evidence causing many in the public to call for a mistrial. Prosecutor Binger allegedly gave the defense a blurred video of the shooting incident and, then four days into the trial, admitted new video evidence that was significantly better. Never before seen FBI video was released in early November.
The defense argued that they "got a compressed version" of the video "that was not of the quality that they had."
Closing arguments in the trial were held on Monday. The jury is on its third day of deliberations.