KENOSHA, Wis. – A day after emotional testimony and a call for a mistrial in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial, his defense attorneys rested Thursday after building their self-defense case by calling a use-of-force expert, media commentator and police officer to the stand.
Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the jury until Monday, when closing arguments are expected to be held.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with killing two men and injuring a third during chaotic protests in this city south of Milwaukee after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in August 2020.
The judge said Thursday both sides would have a total of two hours and 30 minutes to make their closing arguments on Monday and warned that if either attorney went over “I may tell you to just sit down in the middle of your sentence.”
Wednesday, Rittenhouse’s attorneys asked for a mistrial with prejudice because of questions from prosecutor Thomas Binger. Schroeder said he would allow Binger time to respond and cite case law before ruling.
Jurors heard Thursday from John Black, an expert in use of force from Oregon, who said approximately one minute and 20 seconds passed from the time of Rittenhouse’s first shot to his final shot. The amount of time Rittenhouse spent firing each shot took less than seven seconds, Black said.
The prosecution, on the other hand, stressed that there was a greater window of opportunity to understand what happened during the shootings. They have argued that the chain of events occurred over hours, starting with Rittenhouse’s decision to go to a volatile protest with a rifle.
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Prosecutors and the defense argued over how much video Black would be allowed to show. Black stated that he had analyzed Kenosha videos from the night of shootings to see the timing.
Binger stated that the judge had ordered Black to only establish the firing order and not the preceding events. However, Schroeder permitted Black to display a larger section. Prosecutors objected to Black including any opinion about whether Rittenhouse acted reasonably in using deadly force on the night of the shootings. Schroeder agreed that it was up to the jury to decide.
The defense and prosecution questioned a Kenosha police officer, Brittni Bray, about shell casings she collected from the scene of the shootings of Anthony Huber, who was killed, and Gaige Grosskreutz, who was injured. She testified about how to clear a jammed AR-15 rifle. Bray stated that jamming could be caused by either a spent or live round.
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Drew Hernandez, a media commentator who recorded video from Kenosha, including of the fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, also took the stand. Hernandez works for Real America’s Voice, a right-wing site that’s home to a daily talk show from Steve Bannon, a former adviser to President Donald Trump.
Hernandez stated that he had traveled from outside of the state to Kenosha to document “riots” for “BLM (Black Lives Matter), and “antifa”. He said that in “no way, shape or form” did he see Rittenhouse act aggressively on the night of the shootings.
Binger asked Hernandez about Hernandez’s attorney, who was supposed to send video from Kenosha that he had recorded to be submitted to both the prosecution and the defense. Binger could continue with the questions, however it would be monitored closely by the judge.
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Witnesses testified to the exactness of photo enlargement and were present throughout the afternoon.
Witnesses were called by the defense for 2 1/2 days. The previous testimony of the prosecution lasted approximately five days.
Closed arguments will conclude and names will then be drawn for the 12 jurors to be chosen. This case was heard by 18 persons. It was overwhelming white.
Thursday was far less emotional than the shouting and crying that occurred in the courtroom as Rittenhouse testified a day earlier.
Rittenhouse broke down as he recounted the events leading up to the shootings and described how he feared for his life.
I didn’t do any wrong. I defended myself,” said Rittenhouse, who was 17 when he traveled to Kenosha and agreed to help a friend protect a car business after nights of protest.
The story of how it all happenedAfter the shooting death of Jacob Blake by police officers, a visual timeline shows violence in Kenosha
Binger pressed Rittenhouse on why he believed he needed an AR-15 that night and the amount of risk he perceived in the crowd.
Some lines of Binger’s questioning drew sharp criticism from Schroeder and prompted the motion for a mistrial with prejudice, which would prevent Rittenhouse from being tried again.
Rittenhouse is also charged with reckless endangerment and possessing a firearm as a minor. The curfew violations charge was dropped Tuesday.
Contributing to The Associated Press