In a court hearing today, Judge Bruce Schroeder denied a motion from defense Attorney Michael Barth to lower accused arsonist Joshua Ziminski’s bond from $14,000 to $1,000. Ziminski is charged for his role in the Kenosha riots of 2020. According to police and prosecutors, Ziminski (36) of Racine fired a pistol just seconds before Kyle Rittenhouse lawfully shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum. He also lit a dumpster and a trailer on fire. On January 31, 2022, when Ziminski was supposed to go to trial, a witness named Nathan DeBruin says he was intimidated by Ziminski outside of the court house. This author witnessed and heard the brief altercation and words shouted by Ziminski. Ziminski yelled loudly at DeBruin to “stop!” and “let me see the photo, that’s not me!” The incident was also captured on security cameras outside of the court house and on DeBruin’s girlfriend’s phone. Because of this allegation and due to the abundance of evidence presented at the Rittenhouse case, the judge ordered Ziminski to be taken into custody and raised his bond to $14,000. Ziminski has been behind bars ever since.
Attorney Barth argued that the media had exaggerated these allegations and “DeBruin was only intimidated because my client looks scary.” Judge Schroeder interrupted briefly to vilify the media saying that CNN and MSNBC among others tried to discredit the judiciary by expecting it to bend to the will of the media’s bias. Schroeder didn’t hold any punches and seemed very irked by some media coverage about the Rittenhouse case that was biased and in many cases, fake.
“I think you will give (Ziminski) a fair trial and that’s why I didn’t ask for a change of venue,” Barth said to the longest-serving Judge in Wisconsin. “My client had a valid concealed carry permit to carry concealed or openly and he shot his gun as a non-lethal deterrent. He didn’t shoot anyone. He didn’t start any fires.” Schroeder quickly scoffed at the assertion that shooting a gun is lawful. “My client will testify that Rittenhouse pointed a gun at him and his wife,” said Barth. During the Rittenhouse trial, prosecutors T. Clair Binger (D) and Jim Kraus (D) asserted unsuccessfully that Rittenhouse pointed his rifle at the Ziminski’s asking for a provocation jury instruction. The jury didn’t buy it and neither did most folks who watched the grainy drone video. Ziminski must have watched the trial, as he was alerted to this allegation. This puts Binger in a conundrum as he agreed about the pointing of the rifle, at least said he believed so during the Rittenhouse trial. Barth also said his client didn’t know who DeBruin was, a claim that Binger said didn’t make sense. He believes that Ziminski watched Rittenhouse’s trial on TV.
Update on Witness Intimidation Case
ADA T. Clair Binger gave the judge an update on the investigation into DeBruin’s allegations. He said that Kenosha Sheriff’s detectives are finishing up their report and he will have it soon. He also refuted Barth’s statement that Ziminski didn’t start any fires. “(Ziminski’s) wife Kelly has a video on her phone of Mr. Ziminski starting a dumpster on fire. We’ll see that at trial,” said Binger. Binger also went into Ziminski’s troubling criminal history.
In the end, the $1,000 bond set by Commissioner Loren Keating on January 26 for firing a gun during a riot and arson, among other crimes, was unusually low. “Someone else set (his bail)” said Schroeder. Judges, who have more authority on the issue of bond are always able to raise or lower it at their discretion.
Ziminski is scheduled to go to trial on March 28, 2022.