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Kyle Rittenhouse defense says Apple Mail compressed evidence, demands mistrial

Saving email attachments on iPhone and iPad
Saving email attachments on iPhone and iPad (Image credit: Bryan M. Wolfe/iMore)

What you need to know

  • The Kyle Rittenhouse trial has taken another bizarre turn because of tech.
  • The defense has asked for a mistrial because video evidence was sent from iPhone to Android via email.
  • They claim the video was compressed as a result and wasn't as clear as the version the state had.

Lawyers for the defense in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse have filed a motion to dismiss the case against, claiming a mistrial because video evidence sent to the defense via email from an iPhone was compressed.

From CNN:

During a discussion in court this afternoon, prosecutors addressed a motion to dismiss the case by the defense, calling it "factually inaccurate."What is this about: In a motion to dismiss the case filed earlier this week, the defense claimed that, "On November 5, 2021, the fifth day of trial on this case, the prosecution turned over to the defense footage of drone video which captured some of the incident from August 25, 2020. The problem is, the prosecution gave the defense a compressed version of the video."

The motion claims that this means "video provided to the defense was not as clear as the video kept by the state", noting it was only 3.6MB in size as opposed to 11.2MB for the higher resolution version.

So what happened? According to the report prosecutor James Kraus tried to pass on the video to the defense via Apple's AirDrop from an iPhone, however, because the defense attorney had an Android device this obviously didn't work. Instead, the file was emailed as an attachment and inadvertently compressed as a result. The prosecution stated "we did not know that this would occur" and that it "cannot be held responsible", Kraus stating "We didn't compress anything, we didn't change anything." Lawyers for Rittenhouse claimed the fact that the video file had a different name to the original suggested this was not true. According to an expert cited by The Verge, the situation is not normal:

Wisconsin defense attorney Jessa Nicholson Goetz tells The Verge that "it is not normal that video or other electronic evidence is AirDropped to defense counsel in the middle of a trial. That is highly atypical."

The episode is not even the most bizarre tech issue that has faced the trial. Last week the trial judge was fooled by a claim from the defense that pinch-to-zoom on iPad manipulated footage using AI and "logarithms" (presumably they meant algorithms) and that a tablet couldn't be used to display in-court evidence. Instead, a video was played through a Windows laptop plugged into a TV. Whether it is the same video in question in this latest saga has not been stated.

The defense wants the case dismissed, although it has dropped a request for it to be dismissed with prejudice such that it couldn't be tried again. NBC Chicago reports that Judge Schroeder "ruled that the dispute required the reopening of evidence and the testimony of an expert witness." Rittenhouse faces five counts including first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.

Stephen Warwick
Stephen Warwick

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design.

Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple.

3 Comments
  • Well, now, if there was a problem with the video as a video of whatever the subject was, I would think (the wrong word for this trial) it's on the defense to realize they have some sort of problem and inquire whether there's a better version; it's 2021, professionals can be presumed to know that attachments may not be the same quality as the original, specially when it comes to videos and photos.
    It is then, as I say, on counsel to realize there's a problem and reach out to opposing counsel and, if there's a problem with them, the judge. What one doesn't do is first raise it in a mistrial motion while the jury's deliberating.
    Personally, I see no reason to believe that, as a fact, the mail attachment version is in any way inadequate for trial use. Of course, there was the proffer to do that pinch to zoom on an iPad. That one's on the judge.
    Personally, if a mistrial is granted on this idiocy, that right there should be a reason to have Schroeder replaced. That presumes the DA's office is capable of making the argument but given their (apparent) failure to get the video to the defense before the trial, I'm not so sure about their competence.
  • The prosecution is definitely at fault. When they submitted this into evidence, they had a file that was not on a phone ... any phone. Whatever they submit to the court is what they should have given the defense.
  • No they received it on their phone from the drone owner over airdrop and then tried to pass it onto the defense using the same method. Nice try racist.