KENOSHA, Wis. — The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial will hear competing narratives Monday of how the actions of the then-17-year-old should be viewed when he fatally shot two men and wounded a third during a violent protest a year ago.
Before the jury enters deliberations, lawyers on both sides will give their closing arguments in a case that began Nov. 1 and featured eight days of testimony from about 30 witnesses and more than a dozen videos from the night of Aug. 25, 2020.
The prosecution has painted Rittenhouse as a tourist vigilante from Illinois, armed with bad judgment and a rifle he couldn’t legally possess, looking for righteous vengeance against anti-police rioters
According to his defense lawyers, he is essentially a Kenoshan who was driven by a young sense of patriotism and to defend his community. He killed two people and wounded another to save himself.
The shooting occurred days after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, multiple times in the back, leading to several nights of social unrest, looting and arson last year in Kenosha.
How many charges will the jury look at before coming up with a verdict?
Montag’s instruction by Judge Bruce Schroeder to the jury will last nearly an hour. He will explain the different offenses and whether Rittenhouse can be found guilty of lesser crimes.
Learn more about the lower chargesThe Rittenhouse jury may consider lesser charges for fatal shootings. Let’s see what this means.
Since Rittenhouse has raised self-defense, the critical question jurors will decide is whether his decision to use deadly force was reasonable.
Because so much video, most of it already seen multiple times, will be played again in the closing arguments, Schroeder reluctantly agreed to give each side up to 2½ hours to complete their arguments, and in the case of the prosecution, its rebuttal.
Twenty jurors – including eight alternates – were chosen after one day of questioning, dismissals for cause and peremptory strikes by the lawyers. The first week saw one juror be fired for making a joke to a deputy of the sheriff about Blake’s shooting.
Later, a woman was exonerated after she claimed she had complications during her pregnancy. Before the final twelve begin to deliberate the case, the six remaining alternates will randomly be selected.
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Rittenhouse, now 18, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of Anthony Huber, 26; first-degree reckless homicide in the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36; and attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz, 28.
Additionally, the man faces second-degree reckless endangerment charges for his shooting at an unidentified male and under the direction Richard McGinniss. McGinniss is a videographer, who was also in the firing line when Rittenhouse shot four rounds at Rosenbaum within a fraction of a second.
Rittenhouse is charged with sixth-degree criminal intent to possess a firearm. The defense counters that this charge doesn’t stand because it violates the exceptions in the law.
In addition to the many witnesses, Rittenhouse also took the stand and broke down as his lawyers asked him about the events leading up to the shootings. Rittenhouse was asked many questions by his lawyers about what happened that night as well as the dangers he considered.
During the cross-examination, Rittenhouse’s lawyers also took exception to some of the state’s questions, leading to a motion for a mistrial with prejudice, on which Schroeder did not rule.
There are tears, screaming and calls for a mistrial.A dramatic day for the Kyle Rittenhouse murder case
How was the shooting night?
Rittenhouse instantly became a cause célèbre on conservative news outlets and some gun rights advocacy groups on social media. His original attorney, since fired, compared the shootings to the first shots of the American Revolution in 1775 and called the case the most important one about self-defense in the nation’s history.
Nearly $3,000,000 has been donated by supporters across the country to Rittenhouse’s bail, legal defence and family support.
Rittenhouse lived near Kenosha with his sisters and mother in Antioch Illinois. Dominick Black was his brother and also had family nearby. Rittenhouse lived in Kenosha with his sister.
Black, Rittenhouse and Black went into downtown in the early morning hours of Aug. 25, to check out the extent of the arson damage caused during the two previous nights. Rittenhouse stated that he was able to meet the owners and managers of a destroyed car dealership after arson.
The owners asked Nicholas Smith (an ex-employee who lives nearby) if he would be willing to watch the two locations.
Smith asked Black to assist him, Rittenhouse agreed, and the two returned that evening armed with AR-15 rifles. Black had bought Rittenhouse’s for him in May because Rittenhouse was underage. The rifle was kept at Black’s Kenosha home.
They spent the majority of the evening at a shop, along with five other people. But after police pushed most of the protesters south after 11 p.m., Rittenhouse and an older man from his group he’d met that night started walking into the remaining crowd, asking if anyone need medical attention.
McGinnis was recording the conversations for conservative news website The Daily Caller.
The two of them were separated at some point. Rittenhouse refused to be allowed back into the shop. Black then called him to report that some people had vandalized and burned cars at the third Car Source location just three blocks from Rittenhouse.
The story of how it all happenedThe visual timeline of violence and death in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake
Rittenhouse borrowed an extinguisher for himself from another person, and he headed alone towards the south. Rosenbaum, who was seen aggressively by witnesses acting against armed individuals trying to extinguish fires and prevent property damage, met Rittenhouse at the car park’s edge.
Rittenhouse ran briefly away from Rosenbaum and then turned to shoot him between cars. Rittenhouse fled north along Sheridan Road, as angry witnesses converged. Rittenhouse stumbled about half a mile back from the police line and fell onto the street.
He fired four more shots – two at the man who kicked him in the face, one at Huber who had struck him with his skateboard and tried to take his gun, and once at Grosskreutz, a volunteer medic at protests who ran up on Rittenhouse while holding a pistol.
The defense tried to portray Rosenbaum – who suffered from bipolar disorder – as the catalyst to the night’s violence. Mark Richards, defense attorney, said that he “lit the fuse”.
Witnesses claimed that he threatened Rittenhouse with death if Rittenhouse was caught alone.
The prosecution emphasized that no one else considered the diminutive Rosenbaum – who was unarmed but for a brief time he was seen carrying a chain – as a threat, and none of many video’s captured the specific threats of violence some witnesses said they heard.
According to the state Rittenhouse chased Rosenbaum first before the older man tried to run at the indicted defendant.
Rittenhouse stated that he believed his attackers, unarmed, would want to take his rifle and use it against Rittenhouse. Rittenhouse had made the purchase of that sturdy sling on that day to attach it to his body.
Prosecutors are hoping video from both a private drone as well an FBI surveillance plane can convince jurors Rittenhouse shot at someone right before Rosenbaum chased him.
According to the state they were trying to stop an active shooter, murder suspect or both.
Thomas Binger, the Assistant District Attorney, stated that Rittenhouse acted unreasonablely in his opening statement. He repeated many times, despite all the chaos, that Rittenhouse never shot anybody.
Contributing: Ryan Miller, USA TODAY