Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Prosecution claims teenager caused fatal shootings, while defense says he feared for his life
“That’s what is causing this whole incident,” said prosecutor Thomas Binger. “When the accused provokes this incident, he loses the right to self-defense. You cannot claim self-defense against a danger that you are creating.”
In response, defense attorney Mark Richards said Rittenhouse did not act recklessly when he shot Rosenbaum, who Richards said threatened him, chased him, threw a bag at him plastic and rushed to his gun.
“When my client shot Joseph Rosenbaum, he feared for his life. He feared because of his previous threats, his previous statements and the acts of violence my client had witnessed,” Richards said.
The panel of 18 jurors will be reduced to 12 Tuesday morning and will then begin deliberating on the case.
Schroeder also read a set of legal instructions to jury members and informed them that they would be allowed to consider included minor infractions for two of the five counts.
The trial featured more than a dozen videos from the night of August 25, 2020, showing what happened before, during and after the shooting. Most of the facts of what happened that night were not up for debate – the heart of the lawsuit was rather the analysis of Rittenhouse’s actions and whether they can be considered “reasonable.”
Prosecutor says case is about life versus property
Binger’s closing argument began by noting that the lawsuit was not about politics, looting, or riots, but rather that life is more important than property.
“I think we can also agree that we shouldn’t let 17-year-olds run through our streets with AR-15s, because that’s exactly what is happening,” he said.
Using several videos, Binger described how events unfolded that night, from Rittenhouse’s decision to go downtown, to the Rosenbaum shooting, to the second round of shootings as he was trying to run away. Jurors paid close attention to the series of videos and images, according to a reporter from the pool in court.
Binger claimed that Rittenhouse provoked Rosenbaum by pointing a gun at him before the man pursued him. The prosecutor rejected Rittenhouse’s “naughty theory” that Rosenbaum – who had nothing in his hands when he was shot – was going to take the teenager’s gun and kill other people.
“They have to convince you that Joseph Rosenbaum was going to take this weapon and use it on the accused because they know you cannot claim self-defense against an unarmed man like this,” he said. declared. “You lose the right to self-defense when you are the one who brought the weapon, when you are the one who creates the danger, when you are the one who provokes others. “
In the second shooting incident, the crowd clashed with Rittenhouse because they reasonably believed he was an active shooter, Binger said.
“This crowd was right. This crowd was full of heroes. This crowd did something honestly, I’m not sure I would have had the courage to do it,” he said.
Rittenhouse, meanwhile, acted recklessly by loading his weapon with all-metal ammunition capable of piercing armor and having little understanding of the weapon or the consequences of its actions, Binger argued.
“On the witness stand he collapsed crying for himself, not for someone he hurt that night,” he said. “No remorse, no worry about someone else.”
Defense says “active shooter” is a loaded sentence
In the defense’s final argument, Richards considered the testimony of each witness and sought to establish a reasonable doubt that his client had acted criminally.
He said he had no doubt that Rosenbaum – whom he called “irrational and mad” – would have shot Rittenhouse if he had obtained the teenager’s gun.
“My client didn’t shoot anyone until he was chased and cornered,” Richards said.
The second round of gunfire came when Rittenhouse fell and was attacked by a “mob,” Richards said. The lawyer dismissed the charge calling him an “active shooter”.
“Kyle was not an active shooter. It’s a buzzword the state wants to hang on to because it excuses the actions of this crowd,” he said.
Importantly, Richards pointed out that Rittenhouse didn’t have to testify at all, but did so to tell jurors about his experience that night, Richards said.
“We wanted to bring you our side of the story. We had nothing to hide,” he said.
Rittenhouse, who lived in the nearby town of Antioch, Illinois, worked near Kenosha as a lifeguard and his father lived in the town. Richards argued that the teenager had no blueprint for causing the violence and just wanted to help the people of Kenosha that night.
“When he came here, are we to believe that he is working on cleaning up the graffiti, without getting paid because he is here looking for trouble?” Is it a master plan? It’s ridiculous. That’s what he did, “he said.
Finally, Kenosha Deputy District Attorney James Kraus presented the rebuttal of the charge and said Rittenhouse should have “exhausted all methods” of self-defense before firing.
“Hit him in the face, kick him in the testicles, kick him in the face with the knee, hit him with your gun,” he said. “You can’t shoot someone immediately.”
Judge rejects charge of weapons
Yet Rittenhouse is charged with first degree reckless homicide in Rosenbaum’s death, reckless first degree endangerment of security for endangering Richard McGinnis, and reckless first degree endangerment attempt of security for endangering an unknown person identified by the court as “the kicked man jumped”. “
He is also charged with intentional first degree homicide while using a dangerous weapon in the murder of Huber. It is the most serious charge Rittenhouse faces and the only charge that carries a mandatory life sentence.
Judge Schroeder instructed jurors on Monday for the included minor offenses of second degree intentional homicide and first degree reckless homicide for Huber’s death. Both minor offenses carry a penalty of up to 60 years in prison.
For shooting at Grosskreutz, Rittenhouse is charged with attempted first-degree murder, punishable by up to 60 years in prison. Schroeder also instructed jurors on the less serious offenses of attempted second-degree intentional homicide or recklessly endangering first-degree safety.
Instructions to the jury on Monday lasted more than an hour. Schroeder stopped halfway to discuss it further with the lawyers and noted how complicated they were.
“They are certainly right in what they say, I just think they are not clear,” he said.
At a jury instruction conference Friday, the judge told Rittenhouse that presenting less serious offenses to the jury reduced the possibility of a second trial but increased the risk of conviction. Schroeder explained that if the prosecution is unable to establish Rittenhouse’s guilt over the alleged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, then the jury must acquit him.
The forthcoming deliberations will be closely watched locally. Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers has announced that 500 National Guard troops are waiting outside Kenosha, ahead of a possible verdict.
CNN’s Steve Almasy, Aya Elamroussi, Mike Hayes and Amir Vera contributed to this report.