Legal experts have raised questions about a Twitter account linked to double murder suspect Kyle Rittenhouse ahead of his trial.
The “Free Kyle USA” account raises money for 18-year-old’s defense fund. He is accused of killing two people and seriously injuring one other during Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020.
Among some of the posts it has recently sent to its 1,900 followers include photos and videos of a puppy and updates on Rittenhouse’s personal life, including how he is looking to attend college in the fall and “becoming a monster in the gym. “
Other tweets also attack the prosecution team, suggesting they have “ensnared themselves so many times that they have completely lost control” and “anyone working with the Kenosha DA’s office should be utterly embarrassed right now. This is not justice, this is a circus.”
While the account denies that it is officially part of Rittenhouse‘s defense team or has any affiliation with the family, the account frequently comments on the case and provides updates on preparations for his upcoming trial.
Criminal defense experts said the tweets could pose a legal issue if they influence any potential jurors.
“Nobody is supposed to be trying deliberately to influence the jury panel,” criminal defense attorney Dan Adams told WISN.
“The jury is supposed to not know about anyone’s personal history, but he’s presumed innocent and as somebody who’s just going about their day documenting their day, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
While rare in the state of Wisconsin, Adams said the court may enforce a gagging order on the account ahead of the trial.
“If it appears one party is trying to bend public sentiment improperly with out-of-court statements, at that point a court can consider issuing a gag order,” Adams said.
“The rules give attorneys very clear guidance on what statements might be appropriate and what statements might not be appropriate in terms of pretrial publicity,” Julius Kim, a managing partner at law firm Kim & Lavoy, told CBS 58.
Kim added that while defendants are not restricted from saying anything leading up to their trial, there are different rules for attorneys. It’s also up to a judge to decide if any gagging orders are needed for accounts affiliated with Rittenhouse.
“A judge is going to guard and protect the jury pool in Kenosha County so that Kyle Rittenhouse and the state of Wisconsin gets a fair trial in this matter,” Kim said.
“And a judge doesn’t want those jurors to be prejudiced or biased or walk into court with preconceived notions with one side or the other.”
Rittenhouse is currently in an undisclosed “safe house” following alleged threats to his life after his release from custody on a $2m bail.
He is next due next in court on March 11, with jury selection for his murder trial scheduled to take place later that month.
Rittenhouse‘s lawyers have been contacted for comment.
Originally published at https://www.newsweek.com/kyle-rittenhouse-twitter-trial-kenosha-1571254 on .