Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all charges against him Friday, including intentional homicide – the most serious of five charges against him in a case that largely divided America along political and racial lines more than a year after he shot three men during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during often violent protests in the summer of 2020 following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, faced charges ranging from intentional homicide to reckless and attempted homicide. 

The Rittenhouse case garnered national attention from the beginning, a reflection of the country’s division over race, guns and politics.

Rittenhouse stood in front of the jury when the verdict was read. Rittenhouse began to weep as each verdict of not guilty was read. He collapsed at the end of each verdict. He was carried to safety and was given water. Rittenhouse was then hugged by one of his attorneys.

Rittenhouse family members, who were seated behind Rittenhouse in the courtroom, were seen in tears.

Also, the verdict meant Judge Bruce Schroeder didn’t have to hear defense motions in mistrial proceedings. Rittenhouse’s attorneys had asked for a mistrial to be declared due to alleged misconduct by the prosecution and concerns with key videos in the state case.

Weeping, shouting and pleas for mistrials:Imagine what a dramatic day this could be for Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial

Rittenhouse and his victims are white. The shootings took place during a demonstration for racial equality. The cultural hot spot for the left is police mistreatment of persons of color, as well as the social justice protests that have been held against it by the right. 

Blake, whose shooting sparked the protests in Kenosha, was left paralyzed, and the white police officer who shot him was cleared of any federal or state charges.

Rittenhouse stated that he came to Kenosha in order to support the community during unrest. But, the prosecutors described Rittenhouse as a vigilante who was looking for trouble.

Rittenhouse claimed he was acting in self-defense. However, the prosecutors stated that he brought his AR-15 style rifle with him to the protest and provoked them. He also pointed the gun at Rosenbaum before Rosenbaum chased Rosenbaum. This was disputed by the defense.

Although Grosskreutz was armed with a pistol, Rosenbaum and Huber were not. The prosecution claimed Rittenhouse should have fled, or even fought with his gun without fearing for his safety. But the defense said he believed the men could steal his gun and kill him and others.

The eight-day trial featured intense tension and raw emotion throughout. Rittenhouse took the stand last week in his own defense, and broke down when describing the events of Aug. 25, 2020.

Kyle Rittenhouse sits at the defense table during his homicide trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Rittenhouse stated that he didn’t commit any offenses while asserting self-defense. Later, Rittenhouse said: “I didn’t want to have to kill anybody that night.”

Some legal observers argued the prosecution bungled parts of the trial, and Rittenhouse’s lawyers filed a motion for a mistrial with prejudice, meaning he could not be retried, after lines of questioning from Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger that the defense objected to.

Also, the defense claimed that a drone video of Rosenbaum’s shooting was not shared in the best quality. This led to their second mistrial motion. Schroeder didn’t rule on either.

Kyle Rittenhouse Judge has been subject to some criticism.What happens if a judge is removed from a matter? It is unlikely.

The judge himself also emerged as a main character through a series of actions that left critics questioning his objectivity and supporters penning letters of praise.

Schroeder, the longest-serving current judge in Wisconsin, first drew national attention before the trial began in October, when he said the people shot by Rittenhouse couldn’t be called “victims” but could be called “rioters, looters and arsonists.”

During the trial, Schroeder angrily chastised prosecutors multiple times and prevented them from zooming in on an iPad video after suggesting that doing so could alter the footage.

Last week, the 75-year-old judge sparked new criticism by making a quip about “Asian food.” And Schroeder’s attempt to honor veterans led the courtroom to applaud a man who appeared to be the only veteran in the room: a witness for the defense.

Schroeder also dismissed a charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 a day before the jury began its deliberations. An additional charge of failure to comply state- or local government emergencies was dismissed in an earlier stage of the trial.

Contributing to The Associated Press

Source: USAToday.com

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