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Jury Seated For Kyle Rittenhouse Murder Trial

KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS)-- A jury was empaneled late Monday in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The jury pool of 20 - 12 primary jurors and eight alternates - is composed of 11 men and nine women. Most of the jurors are white, with one Black man.

Opening statements are set to follow.

As CBS 2's Charlie De Mar reported earlier Monday, Rittenhouse was brought in through a back door Monday and was able to avoid awaiting cameras. He was seated for jury selection wearing a gray suit.

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder, who is presiding over the trial, has seated 20 jurors – 12 primary jurors and eight alternates. He points out that it is a higher number than normal, but the judge is taking into account the length of the trial - which is slated for two weeks. The pool interviewed in the voir dire process Monday was mostly white and older in age.

"I want this case to reflect the greatness of Kenosha and the fairness of Kenosha, and I don't want it to get sidetracked into other issues," Judge Schroeder said.

Schroeder, the longest-serving circuit court judge in Wisconsin, made it clear to the group of possible jurors that this case is about the evidence - and not their political views.

"This is not a political trial," Judge Schroeder said.

But some potential jurors just could not put their political views aside. One was disqualified for his strong views in favor of the Second Amendment, while others were excused for having already formed an opinion on the case.

Two prospective jurors did not even live in Kenosha County, and others had work or scheduling conflicts.

One prospective juror even expressed concerns to the judge about for their safety.

"It just brings it back to August of last year," the prospective juror said. "The civil unrest or the possibility of the unrest and the unknowns - it just makes me feel uncomfortable."

Schroeder replied with regard to those concerns, "I've been in this business for over 50 years, in the criminal courts - and I have never, ever had any incident in any of the courts."

There was also a woman who said she wants to serve on a jury — just not this jury. She said she drove someone else's car to court Monday in fear of someone spotting her license plate and knowing her name or where she lives.

Prosecutors say the then-17-year-old Rittenhouse, who is white, left his home in Antioch, Illinois, and traveled to Kenosha after learning of a call to protect businesses after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot by police seven times in the back on Aug. 23, 2020 and left paralyzed.

In the first couple of nights after police shot Blake, there was large-scale unrest in Kenosha during which several buildings were set on fire.

Prosecutors accuse Rittenhouse of patrolling downtown Kenosha with an assault-style rifle on the third night of the unrest. Rittenhouse opened fire with that rifle during the protests, killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz.

Rittenhouse's attorneys argued he fired his semiautomatic weapon in self-defense. That is the question it will be up to the jury to answer.

Blake's uncle was at the courthouse Monday in support of the people Rittenhouse shot.

"They were out supporting little Jake, so we're here to fight for them," said Justin Blake. "Their families deserve it. This city deserves it."

Judge Schroeder will allow Rittenhouse's legal team to put on a full defense.

Schroeder has already ruled that prosecutors cannot refer to the three people Rittenhouse shot as "victims." On the other hand, he also ruled that the defense may refer to them as "arsonists," "looters," or "rioters" if they can prove they participated in those activities.

While some see Rittenhouse as a vigilante who took the law into his own hands on a chaotic night of turmoil, others see him as a patriot who was protecting himself and the community.

Rittenhouse's mother, Wendy, and his sisters walked into courthouse using the front steps. Outside the courthouse, we spoke to supporters.

"This is his first jury trial date, so I just wanted to be there in support of that," said a Rittenhouse supporter named Emily.

The judge expects the trial to last about two weeks.

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