KENOSHA, Wis. — The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial will hear competing narratives in closing arguments Monday after the judge dismissed a lesser weapons charged Rittenhouse faced.
Judge Bruce Schroeder on Monday dismissed a misdemeanor count Rittenhouse faced over whether he was a minor in possession of a firearm illegally. The defense argued the charge couldn’t apply because of what they said is an exception in the law. However, although the prosecution objected the judge agreed to interpret the defence’s argument.
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, when then-17-year-old Rittenhouse fatally shot two men and wounded a third during a violent protest.
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.
The governor of Wisconsin, Tony Evers stated that in the event of a verdict, he would send 500 soldiers from the Wisconsin National Guard to Kenosha. Tony Evers said he was sending about 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops to the Kenosha area to be on standby to help “hundreds of officers from volunteering law enforcement agencies” if needed, according to his office.
Which charges is the jury going to consider before reaching its verdict?
Schroeder was speaking Monday to the jury about elements of each offense and possible options for Rittenhouse being found guilty of lesser charges.
Schroeder stopped the instructions at least two times, and at one point to confer with the lawyers before sending the jury out.
Schroeder admitted that he was concerned the instructions did not make it clear when the jury should take into consideration the lesser charged charges. But, later, they were brought back to resume the reading.
Find out more on these charges.Rittenhouse jury will look at lesser charges in 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.
“How to not be a good judge”:Kyle Rittenhouse Judge Draws New Backlash for his ‘Asian Food’ Joke
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.
Two counts of reckless endangerment in first degree are also pending against him for firing four shots at Rosenbaum in less that a second.
Rittenhouse is an elderly man and the misdemeanor gun charges could lead to conviction. But his lawyers argued Wisconsin law included an exception for rifles or shotguns that are not short-barreled. Prosecutors said they believed the charge was still applicable, but they conceded the gun used was not short-barreled, which led to Schroeder dismissing the charge.
In addition to the many witnesses, Rittenhouse also took the stand during the trial and broke down as his lawyers asked him about the events leading up to the shootings. His prosecution questions him about many details and risks that he felt at the time.
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 demands for a mistrial.A dramatic day for the Kyle Rittenhouse murder case
Was there any evidence of what happened on the night?
Rittenhouse lived in Antioch, Illinois, about 20 miles from Kenosha, when he and Dominick Black, a close friend who lived in the city, went downtown the morning of Aug. 25 to view the damage done during demonstrations the prior two nights. Rittenhouse stated that he was able to meet the owner of a destroyed car dealership after it had been set on fire.
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 their night with five other people at a shop that repairs cars.
It happened this way:The visual timeline of violence and death in Kenosha following the police shooting of Jacob Blake
Rittenhouse was later separated from his group when Rosenbaum appeared. Many witnesses saw Rosenbaum acting aggressively towards armed persons trying to stop fires or property destruction that night.
After briefly running from Rosenbaum Rittenhouse turned around and shot Rosenbaum between two cars. Rittenhouse ran northward on Sheridan Road as angry observers converged. He stumbled to the ground and was about halfway back from the police station.
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. Witnesses claimed that Rosenbaum threatened Rittenhouse to kill him if Rittenhouse wasn’t caught.
The prosecution emphasized that no one else considered 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.
The state claims that Rittenhouse pursued Rosenbaum before the elder man attacked the defendant with an armed weapon.
Thomas Binger, assistant district attorney, said that Rittenhouse had not acted reasonably in opening statements. Binger repeated multiple times that, despite the apparent chaos and shootings, Rittenhouse was the only one who shot.
Contributing: Molly Beck, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel