KENOSHA, WIS. – Juries will begin deliberations Tuesday at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial after two weeks of testimony in which prosecutors and defense attorneys painted entirely different pictures. each other about his actions the night he shot three men in the streets of Kenosha.
Prosecutors claimed during arguments late yesterday that Rittenhouse was a “bloody soldier” who incited bloodshed by bringing a semi-automatic rifle to a rally and threatened others, then walked off like a “hero in the West” after killing two men and injuring a third. .
But Rittenhouse’s attorney countered that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense after being ambushed by a “madman” who he feared would take his gun and use it to kill him.
Juries listened to a full day of arguments before being asked to return Tuesday morning to begin deliberations in a case that has stirred fierce debate in the US about guns, vigils and the law. law and order.
Eighteen juries heard the case; 12 people will decide the fate of Rittenhouse and 6 will be appointed as replacements who will be determined by drawings from the lottery drum.
Rittenhouse, then 17, shot dead two men and wounded a third during a tumultuous night of racist injustice protests in the summer of 2020.
Rittenhouse said he went to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to protect the property from rioters in the days after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a white Kenosha police officer. . Rittenhouse, a former police teenager, is white, as are the people he shot.
During the final argument, prosecutor Thomas Binger called Rittenhouse a “wanted soldier” who was “looking for trouble that night” – repeatedly showing the jury a drone video he alleges Rittenhouse points an AR-style weapon at protesters.
“This is provocation. This is what started this case,” the prosecutor stated. “You lose the right to defend yourself when you’re the one carrying the gun, when you’re the one creating the danger, when you’re the one provoking others.”
Rittenhouse, 18, will face mandatory life in prison if found guilty of the most serious crime against him, first-degree murder, Wisconsin’s top murder charge.
Binger began the murder of 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man shot that night, and the shooting began the shootings that followed. The prosecutor repeatedly called this murder, saying it was preposterous and reminding jurors that Rittenhouse testified that he knew Rosenbaum was unarmed.
Binger also said there was no video to support the defense claim that Rosenbaum threatened to kill Rittenhouse, and said Rittenhouse may have run away instead of shooting.
Binger also countered that Rosenbaum was trying to get Rittenhouse’s rifle, which he said was out of reach when the first shot occurred. And Binger argued that once Rosenbaum was wounded, he was incapable of removing the gun that was strapped to Rittenhouse’s body, as he fell to the ground with a broken pelvis. Rittenhouse continued to fire, delivering what prosecutors called a “murder shot” to Rosenbaum’s back.
“I think we can also agree that we shouldn’t have 17-year-olds running around on the streets with AR-15s, because this is exactly what’s going to happen,” Binger said.
In his own closing argument, defense attorney Mark Richards called Rosenbaum a “madman” who “wanted to cause trouble that night” and gratuitously pursued Rittenhouse.
“Mr Rosenbaum was shot because he was chasing my client and was going to kill him, take his gun and carry out the threats he made,” Richards said, adding that Rittenhouse had never been. pointed a gun before being chased: “That didn’t happen. . . “
Richards said a magnified image that prosecutors said showed Rittenhouse pointing a gun at protesters was “blanket” that didn’t prove anything.
After killing Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse shot and killed 26-year-old Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, while trying to make his way through the crowd. Rittenhouse testified that Huber hit him with a skateboard and that Grosskreutz lunged at him with a gun of his own – an account corroborated largely by video and Grosskreutz himself.
Prosecutors said Huber, Grosskreutz and others in the crowd were trying to stop what they believe was an active shooter.
When it was all over, Rittenhouse walked off like a “hero in the West – without caring the world about whatever he just did,” Binger said.
However, the defense said Rittenhouse was attacked by a “crowd”. Richards accused prosecutors of using the term “active shooter” for Rittenhouse because of “the connotation of the word.”
Supporters have hailed Rittenhouse as a hero who stood up to lawlessness; The enemy has given him a vigilante.
Earlier, on Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18, a misdemeanor that appears to be one of the most probable charges. It can be jailed for up to nine months.
The defense argued that Wisconsin law contains an exception regarding the length of the barrel. After prosecutors admitted Rittenhouse’s rifle did not have a short barrel, the judge announced the charge.
Perhaps to realize the weaknesses in their case, prosecutors asked the judge to let the jury consider some of the lesser charges if they acquitted him of the original charges. Schroeder agreed to do so when he turned over 36 pages of legal instructions to the jury.
In his instructions, the judge said that in order to accept Rittenhouse’s request for self-defense, the jury must find that he believes there is an unlawful threat to him and the amount of force he used. is reasonable and necessary.
With the ruling nearing, Governor Tony Evers said that 500 National Guard members would be prepared for duty in Kenosha if local law enforcement asked them to.
Forliti reports from Minneapolis; Webber from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributes from Madison, Wisconsin.