Rittenhouse sparked the bloodshed in Kenosha, according to the prosecutor.
Kyle Rittenhouse incited violence on the streets of Kenosha by carrying a semi-automatic weapon to a rally and threatening others, and when the shooting ended, he walked away like a “hero in a Western,” a prosecutor claimed in closing arguments in Rittenhouse’s murder trial on Monday.
However, Rittenhouse’s attorney said that the shooting began because the young man had been accosted by a “crazy guy” that night and was afraid that his pistol would be snatched and used to murder him as a result.
The jurors were instructed to come Tuesday morning for the start of deliberations in the case, which has sparked heated discussion in the United States over weapons, vigilantism, and law and order.
Eighteen jurors have been deliberating the case; the 12 who will decide Rittenhouse’s fate and the six who will serve as alternates will be chosen using a lottery drum.
In the summer of 2020, a stormy night of rallies against racial inequality, 17-year-old Rittenhouse shot and wounded two men.
Rittenhouse claimed he travelled from Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the days following the fatal shooting of Jacob Blake by a white police officer. A former police cadet, Rittenhouse is white like the victims he shot.
Rittenhouse was described as a “want tobe soldier” by prosecutor Thomas Binger in closing arguments. Repeatedly showing jurors the drone video, Binger said the AR-style rifle was pointed towards the protesters.
“This is the provocation. “This is the beginning of this event,” the prosecutor claimed.
“You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brings the gun, when you’re the one who creates the threat, when you’re the one who provokes other people,” he told the jurors.
If convicted on the most serious charge against him, first-degree intentional homicide, which is Wisconsin’s highest murder count, Rittenhouse, now 18, faces a mandatory life term in prison.
Binger honed down on the murder of 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, the first guy killed down that night and the triggerman for the others. The prosecutor constantly referred to it as murder, claiming that it was unjustifiable.
The prosecutor reminded the jury that Rittenhouse testified that he was aware Rosenbaum was unarmed. Binger also stated that there is no video evidence to back up the defense’s assertion that Rosenbaum threatened to murder Rittenhouse.
Binger refuted Rosenbaum’s claim that he was attempting to take Rittenhouse’s gun. “When the first shot is fired, Mr. Rosenbaum is not even within arm’s length,” Binger explained. He denied that Rittenhouse had no option but to shoot, claiming that he could have fled.
And Binger contended that once Rosenbaum was injured, he was unable of removing the pistol that was strapped to Rittenhouse’s body because he was falling to the ground with a shattered pelvis. Rittenhouse continued to fire, delivering what the prosecutor referred to as the “death shot” to Rosenbaum’s back.
“I believe we can also agree that we shouldn’t have 17-year-olds roaming around our neighbourhoods with AR-15s,” Binger added.
The defence counsel, Richards, labelled Rosenbaum a “crazy guy” who was “hell-bent on provoking problems that night” and went after Rittenhouse unprovoked in his closing statement.
“Mr. Rosenbaum was shot because he was pursuing my client and planning to murder him, grab his pistol, and carry out the threats he made,” Richards explained, adding that Rittenhouse never pointed his gun before being pursued: “It didn’t happen.”
Richards called an enlarged image of Rittenhouse aiming his rifle toward demonstrators “hocus pocus” that doesn’t prove anything.
During the debates, Rittenhouse appeared mostly unconcerned, sometimes scribbling notes. Wendy Rittenhouse, his mother, sat behind him, listening carefully.
With a verdict imminent, Gov. Tony Evers stated that 500 National Guard personnel would be ready to deploy to Kenosha if local law enforcement requested them.
While attempting to push his way through the throng after shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, 28. Rittenhouse testified that Huber beat him with a skateboard and that Grosskreutz attacked him with a pistol of his own, which footage and Grosskreutz himself verified.
However, the prosecutor said that Rittenhouse was also responsible for the bloodshed. He said Huber, Grosskreutz, and others in the crowd were attempting to halt an active gunman.
When it was all said and done, Rittenhouse strolled away like a “hero in a Western – without a care in the world for whatever he’s just done,” according to Binger.
The defence, on the other hand, claimed Rittenhouse was attacked by a “mob.” Prosecutors, according to Richards, chose the phrase “active shooter” for Rittenhouse because of “the strong overtones of that word.”
In an apparent allusion to the police shooting of a Black man that sparked the protests, Richards stated, “Others in this community have shot individuals seven times, and it’s been deemed to be OK.” (There were no charges filed against the white officer.)
Some jurors appeared to divert their gaze when the prosecutor showed a photo of Rosenbaum’s bleeding body on a stretcher during his autopsy, as well as another of his mutilated hand. When Binger showed a close-up of Grosskreutz’s bicep, which had been entirely decimated by a bullet, some jurors flinched and moved away.
A small number of protestors yelling outside the courthouse could be heard at one time, but it was unclear what they were saying or whether the jury heard them from within the courtroom.
Supporters praise Rittenhouse as a hero who stood up to lawlessness, while detractors label him a vigilante.
Binger began his closing arguments by doubting Rittenhouse’s sincerity in attempting to assist.
The prosecution stated that Rittenhouse possessed ammunition capable of traversing the length of five football fields and passing through vehicles, and he questioned the jurors, “Why do you need 30 rounds of full metal jacket (ammo) to protect a building?”
Rittenhouse, who worked as a lifeguard in Kenosha and helped clear up graffiti before the shootings, “feels for this neighbourhood,” according to Richards, and “came down here wanting to assist, to witness the devastation.”
The trial, according to the defence counsel, is a “political case” initiated by prosecutors who, he claims, are looking for someone to blame for the violence.
Earlier Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder dropped a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18, a misdemeanour that seemed to be one of the most likely to result in a conviction. It is punishable by up to nine months in prison.
The defence contended that Wisconsin law makes an exemption for the length of a weapon’s barrel. The court dismissed the indictment when prosecutors admitted that Rittenhouse’s gun was not short-barreled.
Prosecutors may have requested the court to allow the jury examine additional lesser charges if they acquitted him on the initial counts, maybe in acknowledgement of flaws in their case. Schroeder consented to do so while delivering the jury 36 pages of legal instructions.
According to the judge’s directions, the jury must conclude that Rittenhouse felt there was an illegal danger to him and that the level of force he employed was reasonable and necessary in order to accept his claim of self-defense.
Why did the court dismiss the gun accusation against Rittenhouse?
Rittenhouse and his attorneys have claimed that when he shot three individuals with his AR-15-style weapon, he was acting in self-defense. Rittenhouse claimed last week in a stunning turn on the witness that he feared for his life.
Lead prosecutor Thomas Binger detailed a tumultuous night in which Rittenhouse created and worsened the danger he faced via a sequence of irresponsible behaviours that made others fear for their own lives in his closing argument.
“People are getting in people’s faces. There’s yelling going on. There is yelling. There’s even pushing going on. Despite this, the only person who shot and killed anyone in this entire sequence of events — from the killing of Jacob Blake on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020, all the way through all this community went through — was the defendant “Binger said.
Rittenhouse, according to the defenders, was under assault.
In response, lead defence counsel Mark Richards depicted the people shot by Rittenhouse as dangerous rioters out to cause trouble. “This part of downtown was horrible,” he remarked.
Richards also took aim at the prosecution. He accused them of prosecuting Rittenhouse too soon and in a “rush to judgement.” He said that a state crime lab employee tampered with video footage in order to make it more useful to prosecutors. He also informed the jurors that Binger would “lie to your faces” in order to achieve a conviction.
“It’s not a game in this situation. My client’s life is at stake. You don’t play fast and loose with facts, do you? “According to Richards.
Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, in a series of tumultuous clashes with demonstrators that night, then shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, then 26. Rosenbaum had no weapons. Huber was slamming into Rittenhouse with his skateboard. Grosskreutz was carrying a handgun.
During final statements, prosecution and defence attorneys hurled insults and charges that the other side had lied. The two sides presented virtually similar images and videos to the jury, claiming that the evidence revealed opposing results: Grosskreutz was pointing the pistol; Grosskreutz wasn’t. Rosenbaum threatened Rittenhouse, although he didn’t actually threaten Rittenhouse. An unnamed guy swatted Rittenhouse’s hat, claiming he was attempting to “rip his head off.”
A critical question in the case: Did Rittenhouse incite violence?
Prosecutors received a boost Friday when Judge Bruce Schroeder decided that they might allege Rittenhouse initiated the original contact with Rosenbaum by lifting his firearm just before Rosenbaum began chasing him. Prosecutors have relied on video evidence obtained by a drone about a block distant from the event, in which Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum can be seen in the distance, to demonstrate this.
“The defendant’s right to self-defense is forfeited if he causes the event. You cannot claim self-defense in the face of a threat that you have created “Binger said.
Richards spoke more plainly, constantly urging the jury to adopt “common sense” in assessing Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim.
According to Richards, Huber pummelling him to the ground with a skateboard. He confirmed Rittenhouse’s suspicion that Grosskreutz was aiming a gun at him. Rosenbaum described himself as “irrational and insane.”
“Kyle shot Joseph Rosenbaum to protect himself from a danger. And I’m relieved he shot him “According to Richards. “Because I don’t think for a second that if Joseph Rosenbaum had gotten that pistol, he wouldn’t have used it against someone else.”
The jury’s assignment
Rittenhouse is charged with five felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree attempted intentional homicide, and two charges of first-degree willfully endangering another’s safety.
He has entered a not guilty plea on all charges.
Jurors may potentially examine reduced versions of the accusations stemming from the Huber and Grosskreutz shootings.
Schroeder dropped a sixth charge, a misdemeanour involving the possession of a dangerous weapon by a child, on Monday morning.
Prosecutors sought the case based on Rittenhouse’s age at the time of the incident, but his defence attorneys successfully claimed that a loophole in Wisconsin law permits juveniles to own firearms with barrels 16 inches or longer.