Business owners in one Wisconsin city are keeping a close eye on a verdict expected next week in a high-profile murder trial.
Rittenhouse Corp., a Kenosha manufacturer, is scheduled to give its last testimony in the upcoming trial of Timothy Carpenter on Thursday. They expect to wrap up their testimony on Wednesday and make a determination on who wins the potential $150m suit, which alleges Rittenhouse was negligent in the death of Joseph Alvarado, Carpenter’s 1-year-old daughter.
As the trial gets underway, business owners are bracing for blowback.
“A lot of people are wanting to sign the petition in favor of Tim,” said Maria Blasic, owner of Lomas Fresh Mexican Grill. Blasic is a member of Kenosha’s business owners’ association and was at a meeting for tenants in a nearby apartment building where Carpenter and his wife moved in after she was terminated from Kenosha’s public schools, where she’d worked.
“I just hope that I can believe that everything, that everything is done in the right way.”
Carpenter was hired in 2016 as a maintenance worker at Rittenhouse’s manufacturing plant. It came as the company needed to renew its maintenance contract. Carpenter was allowed to work eight hours a day, five days a week, for 12 weeks, according to court records.
In the first few weeks of the job, Carpenter displayed a passion for playing with Alvarado and the baby, according to testimony from his wife.
That changed when Alvarado was taken to hospital. She was suffering from cardiac arrest.
The doctor testified that Alvarado likely died before CPR was administered.
Her husband, according to his testimony, thought his daughter could have possibly been blue. Carpenter told authorities he carried his daughter back to his desk and covered her mouth to keep her from breathing, hoping she was underoxygenated. According to the medical examiner’s report, Alvarado died from hyperthermia and severe dehydration.
Alvarado’s parents say their daughter suffered chronic hydrocephalus and ultimately died from inadequate care.
During his testimony, Carpenter said his motivations were to play with his daughter.
Carpenter’s attorney, Patrick O’Keefe, argued that the company’s safety program was strict.
The trial has stretched on for nearly four months.
In a telephone interview, Corey Platt, a representative of the Kenosha League of Women Voters, said the trial is bringing out more facts in the national debate on child-on-child abuse.
“I’m not sure that [Carpenter’s] guilt or innocence has changed,” Platt said. “But the fact that he had a child obviously could have affected his reaction to that.”
Carpenter is a member of the Kenosha Patriots, a local militia group that posted anti-Muslim, anti-black and anti-immigrant sentiments on their Facebook page in the immediate aftermath of Carpenter’s employment, even listing their home address.
Under Wisconsin state law, states have wide latitude in regulating public safety worker conduct and use of force.