The Rittenhouse jury takes over after the lawyers’ last word

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KENOSHA, WIS. – Attorneys were expected to present concluding arguments on Monday at Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial for the shooting of three men during street riots in Wisconsin, the last word before a jury begins ruling in a case that underscored the harsh divisions of the Wisconsin. Americans on issues of weapons, protests and police.

Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Illinois, faces charges ranging from intentional murder – punishable by life in prison – to an underage gun charge that could mean several months in prison if convicted.

Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, traveled the few miles from his home across the state line to Kenosha on August 25, 2020, as the city was gripped by malicious protests that followed the shooting of a white police officer in Jacob. Blake, a black man, after a call to a domestic disturbance.

The bystander video captured the critical minutes in which Rittenhouse, with an AR Smith and Wesson-style semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.

Rittenhouse is white, as are the three men he shot. The case raised questions about racial justice, police, firearms and white privilege that polarized people far outside Kenosha.

Rittenhouse advocated self-defense in the shootings, leaving prosecutors with the burden of proving that his fear for his safety and use of lethal force were unreasonable. Some legal experts who witnessed the trial said the prosecution struggled to do so.

Perhaps in recognition of this, prosecutors have asked Judge Bruce Schroeder to let the jury consider several lesser charges if they tap into the original counts. Schroeder indicated Friday that he would allow some of what prosecutors had asked for when he gave instructions to the jury on Monday.

Prosecutors, led by Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, tried to portray Rittenhouse as the assailant on the night of the shooting. Binger also highlighted Rittenhouse’s youth and inexperience, pointing out to jurors that of all the gunmen in Kenosha that night, only Rittenhouse shot people.

But key witnesses appeared to reinforce Rittenhouse’s self-defense claims.

Videographer Richie McGinniss testified that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and lunged at his rifle just before Rittenhouse shot him. Ryan Balch, a military veteran in Rittenhouse’s group that night, testified that Rosenbaum threatened to kill Rittenhouse and others if he found them alone.

Grosskreutz, the only man hit by a shot who survived, acknowledged that he had a gun in his hand as he approached Rittenhouse and that it was pointed at him.

Among the most compelling moments of the trial was Rittenhouse’s testimony. In about six hours on the stand – mostly poised and in fact – he said he was afraid Rosenbaum would take his gun and shoot both him and others. He said he never wanted to kill anyone.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself,” Rittenhouse said.

With prosecutors trying to focus jurors on the entirety of what Rittenhouse did, starting with his decision to come to Kenosha with a gun, the defense tried to steer them towards the roughly 3 minutes that began with the pursuit of Rittenhouse by Rosenbaum – the period at the center of his demand for self-defense.

After the concluding discussions, the names had to be extracted to determine which will decide 12 of the 18 jurors who heard the testimony.

With a close verdict, Gov. Tony Evers said 500 National Guard members would be ready for service in Kenosha if local law enforcement requested it.

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Bauer reported from Madison and Forliti reported from Minneapolis.

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