Will Kyle Rittenhouse testify? Legal experts spell out the risky decision – National

When George Zimmerman confronted life in jail for killing Trayvon Martin, his attorneys selected to not have him testify, a call some authorized consultants say contributed to his acquittal in 2013 within the final extremely divisive civilian self-defense trial.

Kyle Rittenhouse, {the teenager} on trial for killing two protesters and wounding a 3rd in Wisconsin final yr, seems set to strive a special tack. His lawyer, Mark Richards, stated in court docket final week that he would take the stand in his personal protection.

Authorized consultants say it’s clearly dangerous for Rittenhouse to offer proof. For starters, it will open him as much as wide-ranging cross-examination about his previous statements and actions.

“The annals of prison regulation are filled with instances the place defendants insisted on taking the stand and paid the worth,” Daniel Medwed, a professor of prison regulation at Northeastern College.

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Kyle Rittenhouse trial will see shooting survivor testify in key moment

For instance, California lady Jodi Arias was convicted in 2013 of murdering her ex-boyfriend and sentenced to life with out parole, after testifying that she had accomplished so in self-defense.

The potential upside for Rittenhouse is that jurors would be capable to hear in his personal phrases why he believed he needed to shoot for his personal security.

Click to play video: 'Trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed 2 protesters, begins with jury selection'

Trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed 2 protesters, begins with jury choice

Trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot and killed 2 protesters, begins with jury choice

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with reckless and intentional homicides within the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and tried murder for wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, now 27, with a bullet to the arm.

Like Zimmerman, Rittenhouse is a divisive determine. He’s a hero to some conservatives who consider in unfettered gun rights and see the shootings as justified, whereas many on the political left have labeled him a vigilante killer.

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If convicted, he faces a sentence of life in jail. His attorneys have stated they may present Rittenhouse acted in self-defense: that he fired the lethal photographs out of worry for his personal life throughout chaotic protests that have been sparked by the police shootings of a Black man in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse’s attorneys could finally determine that placing him on the stand just isn’t well worth the danger, particularly if the trial seems to be transferring of their favor.

Learn extra:
Witnesses at Kyle Rittenhouse trial testify 1st man fatally shot was ‘hyperaggressive’

Throughout the first week of the trial, they elicited testimony from a number of witnesses supporting their argument that Rosenbaum provoked the teenager, a important factor in direction of justifying using lethal drive.

The precise variety of prison defendants who take the stand at their trials just isn’t clear. One research, printed within the Cornell Regulation Assessment in 2009 by professors Theodore Eisenberg and Valerie Hans, discovered that in 300 prison trials in 4 counties, about half of defendants testified.

They discovered that 60% of defendants with out prison data testified, in comparison with 45% of these with prison data, which the authors stated seemingly mirrored defendants’ fear that their data can be used to undermine them. About 77% of defendants who testified have been convicted, in comparison with about 72% of those that didn’t.

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Click to play video: 'Kenosha police chief confirms 2 people killed, 1 injured during Jacob Blake protests'

Kenosha police chief confirms 2 individuals killed, 1 injured throughout Jacob Blake protests

Kenosha police chief confirms 2 individuals killed, 1 injured throughout Jacob Blake protests – Aug 28, 2020

Although Rittenhouse didn’t have a prison file earlier than the shootings on Aug. 25, 2020, Medwed stated assaults on cross-examination might lengthen to “any cases the place Rittenhouse has lied, or is rumored to have lied.” For that cause, Medwed stated, attorneys typically counsel their shoppers towards testifying.

Nonetheless, he stated, the danger of testifying could be worthwhile as a result of jurors “naturally need to hear the opposite aspect,” though a defendant has no authorized obligation to show innocence. Which will apply particularly when a defendant, like Rittenhouse, is asserting self-defense.

“In a self-defense case, it’s typically extraordinarily laborious for the defendant to win with out testifying just because there isn’t any different method for the jurors to be taught in regards to the circumstances that led the defendant to suppose that self-protective drive was obligatory,” stated Michael O’Hear, a professor at Marquette Regulation Faculty.

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One other key issue is extra subjective: will the jury just like the defendant?

Learn extra:
Kyle Rittenhouse trial begins, jurors hear starkly different portrayals of shooter

Don West, one in all Zimmerman’s trial attorneys, stated the protection determined they didn’t want Zimmerman’s testimony as a result of forensic proof and statements Zimmerman had made to police have been sufficient to help his case.

However West additionally stated he believed Zimmerman wouldn’t have been handled pretty had he taken the stand.

“He was reviled. He was probably the most hated man for a very long time,” West stated. “The main focus would have been so intense on him that he wouldn’t have gotten the good thing about any doubt.”

On Feb. 26, 2012, Zimmerman, who was then a neighborhood watch captain in a gated group in Sanford, Florida, fatally shot Martin after the teenager’s journey to a comfort retailer to purchase snacks. The incident helped spark the rise of the Black Lives Matter motion.

Patrick Cafferty, a prison protection lawyer in Wisconsin, stated he thinks Rittenhouse will testify. He stated he noticed worth within the teen telling the jury instantly that he feared for his life.

“I feel the reward outweighs the danger,” Cafferty stated.

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