UPDATE: Jury begins deliberations at Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial

Local News

Kyle Rittenhouse waits near his table during a break in his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

TUESDAY 11/16/2021 9:28 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The jury has begun deliberating at the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse after listening to two weeks of dueling portrayals of Rittenhouse.

Prosecutors say he was a “wannabe soldier” who instigated the bloodshed; the defense says he acted in self-defense after coming under attack.

The 18-year-old Rittenhouse faces life in prison if convicted as charged for using a AR-style semi-automatic rifle to kill two men and wound a third during a night of protests against racial injustice in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. He is white, as were those he shot.

The case has become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate over guns, protests, vigilantism and law and order.

The anonymous, 12-member jury began deliberating after Rittenhouse himself, in a highly unusual move, was allowed by the judge to draw slips of paper from a raffle drum to determine which of the 18 people who sat in judgment during the trial would decide his fate and which would be alternates.

The resulting jury appeared to be overwhelmingly white.

UPDATE: A look at key points in Kyle Rittenhouse closing arguments

MONDAY 11/15/2021 8:10 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Attorneys in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial sparred for the last time Monday during closing arguments, with prosecutors painting Rittenhouse as an inexperienced instigator and defense lawyers insisting the Illinois man fired in self-defense.

Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during street unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. He has claimed self-defense, while prosecutors have argued he was an inexperienced and overmatched teen who provoked violence by showing up with a rifle. =

Here are some takeaways from Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger and defense attorney Mark Richards’ closings:


“QUACK DOCTOR”
Binger painted Rittenhouse as a fraud. He said Rittenhouse told people at the protest that he was an emergency medical technician when he was really just a lifeguard.

“This is an emergency situation,” Binger said. “Everybody’s anticipating violence. Everybody’s prepared for people to be hurt, harmed, injured. And yet the defendant’s going to go there and walk around claiming to be a medic. He’s like a quack doctor practicing without a license that puts lives at risk . . . He wrapped up an ankle and I think maybe helped somebody who got a cut on their hand. Yeah. On the other hand, he killed two people, blew off Gaige Grosskreutz’s arm.”

ACTIVE SHOOTER

Binger also portrayed Rittenhouse as an active shooter and said people in the crowd had a right to stop him. He said Rittenhouse denied shooting Rosenbaum when Grosskreutz and another man, Jason Lackowski, asked him what happened immediately after the shots were fired.

“The crowd sees the defendant running with a gun. He’s lying to them. He still has the gun,” Binger said. “It is entirely reasonable for that crowd to believe at that moment that he is a threat to kill again. I submit to you, ladies and gentlemen, that in this situation, the crowd has the right to try and stop an active shooter. They have a right to protect themselves. The defendant is not the only one in the world who has the right to self-defense.”

Richards said calling Rittenhouse an active shooter is “BS” and if he didn’t know better he would think Binger was a “whiny defense lawyer.” “Every person who was shot was attacking Kyle: One with a skateboard, one with his hands, one with his feet, one with a gun,” Richards said. “My client does not have to take a beating from the hands of this mob, or from the hands of Mr. Rosenbaum.”

OUTSIDER

Binger tried to get jurors to see Rittenhouse, who lived in nearby Antioch, Illinois, as one of a horde of outsiders who came to Kenosha to play soldier during the protest, ignoring roadblocks, curfew orders, and closed interstate exits.

“These guys with the AR-15s are just wannabe soldiers acting tough, trying to manufacture some personal connection to this event, furthering their own personal agenda, just a small part of the deluge of chaos tourists we saw here in Kenosha trying to feed off of what we were going through, despite everything we did to try and tell them, go away, stay out.”

Richards countered that Rittenhouse came to the city to help, noting that he helped clean graffiti off a high school before the shootings. “Kyle feels for this community,” he said.


NAPOLEON COMPLEX

Binger focused largely on Rosenbaum’s actions, trying to counter Rittenhouse’s assertions that Rosenbaum was causing trouble all night, swinging a chain, demanding people shoot him, spewing racial slurs, and setting fires. Binger described Rosenbaum as a small man — he stood at 5 feet 4 — with a “Napoleon complex” but he was harmless.

“Oh, let me tell you all the awful things Joseph Rosenbaum did,” the prosecutor said. “He tipped over a Port-a-Potty that had no one in it. He swung a chain. He lit a . . . Dumpster on fire . . . Oh, and he said some bad words. He said the N-word. If he were alive today . . . I’d probably try and prosecute him for arson. But I can’t because the defendant killed him. But that’s the way we deal with people that do these things. When you commit arson, we prosecute you. We don’t execute you in the street.”

Richards called Rosenbaum “irrational and crazy” and said he chased Rittenhouse down until he had him cornered. If Rosenbaum had taken Rittenhouse’s gun from him he would have shot others, Richards said.
“Mr. Rosenbaum made a fatal mistake that day, chasing Kyle Rittenhouse into the corner,” Richards said. “He ran as far as he could, and he shot, four times in three-quarters of a second . . I’m glad (Rittenhouse) shot him because if Joseph Rosenbaum got that gun I don’t for a minute believe he wouldn’t have used it against somebody else . . . Mr. Rosenbaum was hell-bent on causing trouble that night.”

WOULD YOU HAVE DONE THIS?

Binger wrapped up his arguments by asking jurors to ask themselves if they would have reacted like Rittenhouse in the same situation. “Would a reasonable person have done the same thing?” Binger said.

“Would you have engaged in the reckless conduct that led to this course of events? Would you have gone out after curfew with an AR-15 looking for trouble? Would you have aimed at other people? Would you have tried to use the gun to protect an empty car lot? No reasonable person would have done these things. “

10 MILLION REASONS TO LIE

Richards focused on Grosskreutz’s testimony that he didn’t know his own pistol had a round in the chamber when he ran up to Rittenhouse. Grosskreutz has filed a lawsuit against the city of Kenosha alleging police conspired with armed militia the night he was shot; he’s seeking $10 million.

“Grosskreutz won’t say anything that puts him in a bad light,” Richards said. “Grosskreutz’s the person who has 10 million reasons to lie.”

WITNESSES

Richards argued that the state’s witnesses actually helped Rittenhouse’s case, pointing out that a police detective seemed to agree that Rosenbaum came out of hiding to chase Rittenhouse; a forensic pathologist testified that Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum at close range, within 4 feet, bolstering the defense argument that Rosenbaum reached for Rittenhouse’s rifle; and others in Rittenhouse’s group testified they had permission to guard the car dealership.

One member of Rittenhouse’s group, JoAnn Fiedler, testified that she never saw Rittenhouse act inappropriately toward anybody, Richards recounted for jurors.

HOCUS POCUS OUT OF FOCUS

Richards lambasted the prosecution’s use of an enlarged photo taken from drone video that a state crime lab analyst testified he took 20 hours to produce. Prosecutors said the enlarged image shows Rittenhouse pointing his gun at protesters, an act they say provoked the series of events that resulted in Rittenhouse killing two people and wounding a third.

“What he did for those 20 hours is hocus pocus,” Richards said in urging jurors to reject consideration of the image. “And he makes an exhibit that is out of focus.”

Prosecutors said it took the analyst 20 hours to work on the entire video, not just the image that was enlarged.

POLITICAL FIRESTORM

Richards said Binger’s office never reassessed their case after video evidence showed Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. He said prosecutors want to hold someone responsible for bringing “terror” to Kenosha’s streets.

“Ladies and gentlemen, this is a political case . . . but the district attorney’s office is marching forward with this case because they need somebody to be responsible. They need somebody to . . . say, he did it, he’s the person who brought terror to Kenosha. Kyle Rittenhouse is not that individual.”


Associated Press writers Amy Forliti in Minneapolis and Scott Bauer in Madison contributed to this report.


Find AP’s full coverage of the Rittenhouse trial: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse

BREAKING: Judge dismisses weapons charge at Rittenhouse murder trial

MONDAY 11/15/2021 9:49 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The judge at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial has dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.

The charge is only a misdemeanor, but it had appeared to be among the likeliest to net a conviction for prosecutors. There’s no dispute that Rittenhouse was 17 when he carried an AR-style semi-automatic rifle on the streets of Kenosha in August 2020 and used it to kill two men and wound a third.

But the defense argued that Wisconsin’s statute had an exception that could be read to clear Rittenhouse. That exception involves whether or not a rifle or shotgun is short-barreled.

After prosecutors conceded in court Monday that Rittenhouse’s rifle was not short-barreled, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the charge.

MONDAY 11/15/2021 9:28 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Attorneys were set to deliver closing arguments Monday at Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial in the shootings of three men during street unrest in Kenosha, the last word before jury deliberations in a case that has underscored bitter division in the U.S. over guns, protests and policing.

Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Illinois, faces charges ranging from intentional homicide — punishable by life in prison — to an underage weapons charge that could mean a few months in jail if convicted.

Public interest in closing arguments was evident Monday morning, when more people than usual stood in a line outside Courtroom 209 to get a seat. The first one in line was a man in a red hat and red coat bedecked with silver glitter. Outside, someone erected a cutout of Rittenhouse, and a man stood on a corner waving an upside-down American flag.

Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, traveled the few miles from his home to Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, as the city was in the throes of damaging protests that erupted after a white police officer’ shot and wounded Jacob Blake, a Black man.

Bystander video captured the critical minutes when Rittenhouse, with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 28.

Rittenhouse is white, as are the three men he shot. The case raised questions about racial justice, vigilantism, the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and white privilege that polarized people far beyond Kenosha.

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

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

Prosecutors, led by Thomas Binger, sought to portray Rittenhouse as the aggressor the night of the shootings. Binger also highlighted Rittenhouse’s youth and inexperience, noting to jurors that of all the people armed in Kenosha that night, only Rittenhouse shot people.

But some of the prosecution’s own witnesses seemed to strengthen Rittenhouse’s self-defense claims.

Videographer Richie McGinniss testified that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and lunged for his rifle right 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 got them alone.

Grosskreutz, the only man 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 trial’s most compelling moments was Rittenhouse’s own testimony. In some six hours on the stand — most of it poised and matter-of-fact — he said he was afraid Rosenbaum would take away his gun and shoot him and others. He said he never wanted to kill anyone.

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

After closing arguments, names were to be drawn to determine which 12 of the 18 jurors who heard testimony will deliberate, with the rest dismissed as alternates.

With a verdict near, Gov. Tony Evers said that 500 National Guard members would be prepared for duty in Kenosha if local law enforcement requested them.

UPDATE: Jury to get to weigh some lesser charges in Rittenhouse case

FRIDAY 11/12/2021 2:01 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The jury that will decide Kyle Rittenhouse’s fate will be allowed to consider some lesser charges in addition to those prosecutors originally brought against him, after fierce debate by both sides on Friday.

The arguments over what would be in the jury instructions were contentious at times, with attorneys rehashing debates they had earlier in the trial or in pretrial hearings. At one point, as the two sides debated about what a particular photo showed, Judge Bruce Schroeder lost his temper, snapping: “You’re asking me to give an instruction. I want to see the best picture!”

Rittenhouse, who was 17 when he fatally shot two protesters and wounded a third in August 2020 during a chaotic night of protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, testified that he had acted in self-defense. Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Monday in the case that has left Americans divided over whether the Illinois teenager was a patriot who took a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante who brought a gun to a protest.

Rittenhouse is charged with several counts, including homicide and attempted homicide, in the killings of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz. Wisconsin law allows the prosecution and defense to ask that jurors be told they can consider lesser charges as part of the instructions they receive before deliberating the case.

With many legal observers saying prosecutors struggled to poke holes in Rittenhouse’s self-defense claims, Schroeder’s decisions on what to allow in terms of lesser charges could be significant.

The judge said he would issue his final rulings on Saturday, but he also made some findings from the bench and indicted how he was inclined to rule on others.

He addressed Rittenhouse directly at one point toward the end of the day’s proceedings, which took place without the jury present. He told the defendant that by having the lesser charges included, “you’re raising the risk of conviction, although you’re avoiding the possibility that the jury will end up compromising on the more serious crime. And you’re also decreasing the risk that you’ll end up with a second trial because the jury is unable to agree.”

Rittenhouse said he understood.

Rittenhouse, now 18, faces one count of first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting death of Rosenbaum, who was the first person he shot after Rosenbaum chased him into a used car lot. Prosecutors sought to add a second-degree reckless homicide charge, which would not require prosecutors to prove that Rittenhouse had shown an utter disregard for human life. After the defense objected, Schroeder said he was unlikely to allow the jury to consider the lesser charge because he thought a subsequent guilty verdict on second-degree reckless homicide would be overturned on appeal.

Rittenhouse also faces two charges of first-degree reckless endangerment: one for firing at an unknown man who tried to kick him in the face and another because a reporter was in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum.

Schroeder said he was inclined to allow a lesser charge of second-degree reckless endangerment when it comes to endangering the reporter, but that attorneys shouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t allow it. He also said he wouldn’t allow the lesser charge in the case of the unidentified man who tried to kick Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse also faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide in Anthony Huber’s death, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Huber swung his skateboard at Rittenhouse after the teen killed Rosenbaum.

The defense did not object to adding lesser counts of second-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide as it relates to Huber. It did object to adding a charge of second-degree reckless homicide. The judge said he “embraced” that argument.

Rittenhouse faces one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide for shooting and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm. Grosskreutz confronted Rittenhouse after Huber was shot and killed.

Prosecutors asked for adding lesser counts of second-degree attempted intentional homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree reckless endangerment. Rittenhouse attorney Corey Chirafisi did not object to the second-degree attempted homicide count, but he did object to adding the reckless endangerment counts, saying he doesn’t believe someone can “attempt to be reckless.”

Schroeder said he would mull it over but was inclined to agree with prosecutors.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers rested their case on Thursday after putting on about 2 1/2 days of testimony compared to the prosecution’s five. The most riveting moment came when Rittenhouse told the jury that he was defending himself from attack when he used his rifle to shoot the three men.

After closing arguments on Monday, names will be drawn to decide which 12 jurors will deliberate and which ones will be dismissed as alternates. Eighteen people have been hearing the case. The panel appears to be overwhelmingly white, like Rittenhouse and the three men he shot.

The protests were set off by the wounding of Blake by a white police officer. Rittenhouse went to Kenosha from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, with a rifle and a medical kit in what the former police and fire youth cadet said was an effort to protect property after rioters set fires and ransacked businesses on previous nights.

The case has stirred fierce debate over vigilantism, self-defense, the Second Amendment right to bear arms and the unrest that erupted throughout the U.S. over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other police violence against Black people.

When he testified about that night, Rittenhouse said he heard a gunshot directly behind him as he was being chased by Rosenbaum. Authorities said the shot was fired by someone else in the crowd.

The account Rittenhouse gave has largely been corroborated by a wealth of video and the prosecution’s own witnesses: Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum cornered him and put his hand on the barrel of his rifle, that Huber hit him with a skateboard and that Grosskreutz came at him with a gun of his own.

At one point Wednesday, his lawyers angrily demanded that the judge declare a mistrial and bar Rittenhouse from being retried — essentially asking that the whole case be thrown out. They accused the chief prosecutor of asking Rittenhouse out-of-bounds questions.

The judge lambasted the prosecutor but pressed on with the case.

UPDATE: Defense rests its case at murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse

THURSDAY 11/11/2021 3:55 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The defense has rested its case at the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, setting the stage for closing arguments in the shootings that left Americans divided over whether he was a patriot taking a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante.

The judge indicated closing arguments could be held Monday.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers completed their side of the case on Day 9 of the trial Thursday, a day after the 18-year-old Rittenhouse told the jury he was defending himself from attack and had no choice when he used his rifle to kill two men and wound a third on the streets of Kenosha.

Prosecutors have sought to portray Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed, which took place during a tumultuous night of protests against racial injustice in August 2020.

Rittenhouse could get life in prison if convicted.

The defense put witnesses on the stand across 2 1/2 days. Prosecutors presented testimony over a span of about five.

The protests in Kenosha were set off by the wounding of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer. Rittenhouse, then 17, went to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, in what the former police and fire youth cadet said was an effort to protect property after rioters set fires and ransacked businesses on previous nights.

Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot.

On Thursday John Black testified that about 2 3/4 seconds elapsed between that shot and the first one fired by Rittenhouse.

In an account largely corroborated by video and the prosecution’s own witnesses, Rittenhouse said that Rosenbaum cornered him and put his hand on the barrel of his rifle, the second man hit him with a skateboard, and the third man came at him with a gun of his own.

His testimony was interrupted by an angry exchange in which his lawyers demanded a mistrial with no right to a retrial, accusing the chief prosecutor of asking Rittenhouse out-of-bounds questions.

Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder, though plainly mad at the prosecutor, did not immediately rule on the request. On Thursday, he pressed ahead with the case and said it would be ideal if the trial were to conclude on Friday.

Much of the testimony has centered on Rosenbaum’s killing, since that set in motion the bloodshed that followed.

UPDATE: Rittenhouse lawyers say they will ask for a mistrial over prosecutor’s line of questioning

WEDNESDAY 11/10/2021 1:32 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Defense attorneys at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial say they will ask the judge to declare a mistrial after prosecutors posed what appeared to be improper questions of Rittenhouse on the stand.

Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder did not immediately rule, saying he would give the prosecution a chance to respond.

At issue were questions prosecutors about Rittenhouse protecting property and about his silence after his arrest.

Local 5 will continue to update this story.

UPDATE: Rittenhouse says first man he shot threatened to kill him

WEDNESDAY, 11/10/2021 11:23 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Sobbing so hard at one point that the judge called a break, Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand at his murder trial Wednesday and said he opened fire during a night of turbulent protests in Kenosha after a man chased him down and put his hand on the barrel of Rittenhouse’s rifle.

Rittenhouse said that after he gunned down Joseph Rosenbaum, he shot another man in the street, Anthony Huber, after Huber struck him in the neck with his skateboard and grabbed his rifle.

When a third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, “lunges at me with his pistol pointed directly at my head,” Rittenhouse shot him, too, wounding him.

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

Rittenhouse, 18, is on trial on charges of killing two men and wounding a third during a protest against racial injustice in the summer of 2020.

Rittenhouse was 17 when he went to Kenosha with an assault-style semi-automatic weapon and a medic bag in what he said was an attempt to protect property from rioters. He could get life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges against him.

Rittenhouse said he was walking toward a Car Source lot with a fire extinguisher to put out a fire when “I hear somebody scream, ‘Burn in hell!’ And I respond with ‘Friendly, friendly, friendly!’”

He said Rosenbaum was running at him from one side and another protester with a gun in front of him, “and I was cornered.” He said that’s when he began to run.

He said another protester, Joshua Ziminski, told Rosenbaum, “Get him and kill him.”

Rittenhouse said he heard a gunshot “directly behind me,” and as he turned around, Rosenbaum was coming at him “with his arms out in front of him. “I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun.”

Then he said, “I shoot him.” He also said he thought the object Rosenbaum threw — a plastic hospital bag — was the chain he had seen Rosenbaum carrying earlier.

Rittenhouse said he intended to help Rosenbaum, but was in shock as someone else attended to Rosenbaum. Rittenhouse said he thought the “safest option” was to turn himself into police who were on the road nearby.

When defense attorney Mark Richards asked Rittenhouse why he didn’t keep running away from Rosenbaum, he said: “There was no space for me to continue to run to.”

During earlier testimony, he said Rosenbaum was holding a chain at one point and twice threatened to kill him that night.

Apologizing to the court for his language, Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum was walking down the street with his chain and screamed, “If I catch any of you (expletives) alone I’m going to (expletive) kill you!”

And later that night, he testified, Rosenbaum said: “I’m going to cut your (expletive) hearts out! Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum also called them “N-words.” But he said he didn’t want to repeat the word in court.

Rittenhouse responded no when asked by his attorney whether he came to Kenosha looking for trouble.

Rittenhouse testified that he saw videos of violence in downtown Kenosha on Aug. 24, 2020, the day before the shootings, including a brick being thrown at a police officer’s head and cars burning in a Car Source dealership lot.

Rittenhouse said the Car Source owner “was happy we were there” and gave permission for the group to be there.

Rittenhouse’s decision to testify came despite several legal experts saying that an underwhelming prosecution case had made it less likely he would need to do so.

Prosecutors used 5½ days of testimony to try to portray Rittenhouse as the aggressor on the night of the shootings. But the prosecution’s witnesses often bolstered the young man’s claim of self-defense, including his fear that his weapon would be taken away and used against him.

The jurors were sent out of the room just before Rittenhouse began testifying while the judge explained his right to remain silent and the potential risks of testifying, Rittenhouse repeatedly answering that he understood.

As jurors reentered the room, they filed by Rittenhouse on the stand. As Rittenhouse began answering questions, some jurors appeared to take extensive notes on their clipboards.

Rittenhouse shot and killed Rosenbaum and Huber, and wounded Grosskreutz.

While Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot, the case has stirred debate over vigilantism, the right to bear arms and the unrest that erupted around the U.S. that summer over the killing of George Floyd and other police violence against Black people.

UPDATE: Defense calls Kyle Rittenhouse to the stand at his murder trial

WEDNESDAY 11/10/2021 9:45 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The defense as called Kyle Rittenhouse to the stand at his trial on charges of killing two men and wounding a third during a night of turbulent protests in Kenosha.

Kyle Rittenhouse broke down in tears on the witness stand at his murder trial Wednesday as he described how he was being pursued by the first man he shot and killed during a night of turbulent protests in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse, now 18, said he was walking toward a Car Source lot with a fire extinguisher to put out a fire when “I hear somebody scream, ‘Burn in hell!’ And I respond with ‘Friendly, friendly, friendly!”

He said Joseph Rosenbaum was running at him from one side and another protester with a gun in front of him, “and I was cornered.” He said that’s when he began to run.

Rittenhouse began to sob, and the judge called for a break in testimony to allow him to regain his composure.

On a courtroom bench across the room, Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse sobbed loudly as she watched her son apparently unable to speak further. Someone sitting next to her put an arm around her.

During his testimony, he said Rosenbaum was holding a chain at one point and twice threatened to kill him.

Apologizing to the court for his language, Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum was walking down the street with his chain and screamed, “If I catch any of you (expletives) alone I’m going to (expletive) kill you!”

And later that night, he testified, Rosenbaum said: “I’m going to cut your (expletive) hearts out! Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum also called them “N-words.” But he said he didn’t want to repeat the word in court.

Rittenhouse, who is charged with killing two men during a protest against racial injustice in the summer of 2020, responded no when asked by his attorney whether he came to Kenosha looking for trouble.

The former police youth cadet was 17 when he went to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he has said was an effort to safeguard property from the unrest that broke out over the wounding of a Black man by a white Kenosha police officer.

Rittenhouse appeared composed at first as he gave answers in a matter-of-fact tone to questions from defense attorney Mark Richards.

Rittenhouse testified that he saw videos of violence in downtown Kenosha on Aug. 24, 2020, the day before the shootings, including a brick being thrown at a police officer’s head and cars burning in a Car Source dealership lot.

The former police youth cadet was 17 when he went to Kenosha during the summer of 2020 with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to safeguard property from the damaging protests that broke out over the wounding of a Black man by a white Kenosha police officer.

Prosecutors used 5½ days of testimony to try to portray Rittenhouse as the aggressor on the night of the shootings. But the prosecution’s witnesses often bolstered the young man’s claim of self-defense.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers have suggested he was afraid his gun was going to be taken away and used against him. Also, one of the men he shot hit him in the head or neck with a skateboard, and another came at Rittenhouse with a gun of his own.

Rittenhouse’s decision to testify comes despite several legal experts saying that an underwhelming prosecution case had made it less likely he would need to do so.

Rittenhouse, now 18, could get life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him.

UPDATE: Prosecution rests its case at Rittenhouse murder trial

TUESDAY 11/9/2021 1:01 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors have rested their case against Kyle Rittenhouse after 5 1/2 days of testimony in which they sought to portray him as the instigator in the shootings that left two men dead and a third wounded during street protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

One of the final prosecution witnesses Tuesday was a forensic pathologist who analyzed drone video — just obtained by the prosecution late last week — that gave jurors their first glimpse of Rittenhouse shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, the first of those gunned down.

Prosecutors used extensive video and witnesses, including two former military veterans who were on the streets alongside Rittenhouse, in a bid to convince the jury he was the aggressor.

But some of the witnesses also offered testimony that seemed to bolster Rittenhouse’s claim that he acted in self-defense.

UPDATE: Survivor testifies as Rittenhouse trial enters 2nd week

MONDAY 11/8/2021 10:20 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — A man who was shot and wounded in the arm by Kyle Rittenhouse during a night of protests against racial injustice took the stand Monday, saying he went there to use his paramedic training to help others and carried a loaded pistol because he is a believer in gun rights.

Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, who had his gun in his hand as he stepped toward Rittenhouse, was wounded moments after Rittenhouse fatally shot two others in the streets of Kenosha.

Grosskreutz, who was trained as a paramedic, testified that he volunteered as a medic at protests in Milwaukee in the days after George Floyd died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer in May 2020. Grosskreutz said he attended around 75 protests before the night he was shot in August 2020, offering help to anyone needing medical attention.

Grosskreutz said he was wearing a hat that night that said “paramedic” and was carrying medical supplies, in addition to a loaded pistol. Grosskreutz said his permit to carry a concealed weapon had expired and he did not have a valid permit that night.

“I believe in the Second Amendment. I’m for people’s right to carry and bear arms,” he said, explaining why he was armed. “And that night was no different than any other day. It’s keys, phone, wallet, gun.”

He said he provided medical assistance to about 10 other people that night.

Rittenhouse kept his eyes on Grosskreutz as he testified. When asked questions by prosecutors, Grosskreutz turned and looked straight at the jurors, who sat just feet away.

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with wounding Grosskreutz and killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. The one-time police youth cadet from Antioch, Illinois, was 17 when he went to Kenosha with an AR-style rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to safeguard property from the demonstrations that broke out over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.

Rittenhouse is white, as are the three men he shot, but the case has raised polarizing questions about racial justice, policing, vigilantism and the right to bear arms.

In the first week of Rittenhouse’s trial, prosecutors played numerous videos that showed the events of that night from different angles. Jurors heard testimony from people who were with Rittenhouse, as well as from police officers and loved ones of the men who died.

Jason Lackowski, a former Marine who was on the streets of Kenosha carrying his own rifle, testified Friday about Rosenbaum, the first man Rittenhouse shot. Lackowski said Rosenbaum was acting “belligerently” but did not appear to pose a serious threat.

Other witnesses testified last week that a “hyperaggressive” Rosenbaum angrily threatened to kill Rittenhouse that night and that Rosenbaum was gunned down after he chased Rittenhouse and lunged for his rifle.

Prosecutors have portrayed Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed as well as an inexperienced teen who misrepresented his age and medical training to others that night. Rittenhouse’s lawyer has argued that he acted in self-defense, suggesting among other things that Rittenhouse feared his weapon would be taken and used against him.

The prosecution suffered a potential blow when Rosenbaum’s fiancée, Kariann Swart, disclosed that he was on medication for bipolar disorder and depression but hadn’t filled his prescriptions because the local pharmacy was boarded up due to the unrest — information Rittenhouse’s lawyers could use in their bid to portray Rosenbaum as the aggressor.

On the day he was killed, Rosenbaum, 36, had been released from a Milwaukee hospital. The jury was told that much, but not why he had been admitted — after a suicide attempt.

Rosenbaum’s killing has emerged as one of the most crucial moments that night because it set in motion the bloodshed that followed moments later.

Rittenhouse shot and killed Huber, a 26-year-old protester seen on bystander video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. Rittenhouse then wounded Grosskreutz.

Rittenhouse could get life in prison if convicted.

UPDATE: Witness: Kenosha victim was belligerent but no threat

FRIDAY 11/5/2021 8:45 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The first man shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse on the streets of Kenosha was acting “belligerently” that night but did not appear to pose a serious threat to anyone, a witness testified Friday at Rittenhouse’s murder trial.

Jason Lackowski, a former Marine who said he took an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to Kenosha last year to help protect property during violent protests against racial injustice, said that Joseph Rosenbaum “asked very bluntly to shoot him” and took a few “false steppings … to entice someone to do something.”

Lackowski got up from the witness stand and demonstrated what he meant by “false stepping.” He took a small step and slight lurch forward, then stopped.

But Lackowski, who was called as a witness by the prosecution, said he considered Rosenbaum a “babbling idiot” and turned his back and ignored him. He admitted he didn’t see everything that went on between Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum, including their final clash.

In other testimony, the prosecution suffered a potential blow when Rosenbaum’s fiancee, Kariann Swart, disclosed that he was on medication for bipolar disorder and depression but didn’t fill his prescriptions because the local pharmacy was boarded up as a result of the unrest — information Rittenhouse’s lawyers could use in their bid to portray Rosenbaum as the aggressor that night.

The judge allowed the defense to elicit testimony about Rosenbaum’s mental illness because prosecutors brought up mention of medication. Had prosecutors not touched on the topic, it is unlikely the judge would have let the defense bring it up.

On the day he was killed, Rosenbaum had been released from a Milwaukee hospital. The jury was told that much, but not why he had been admitted — after a suicide attempt.

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with shooting three men, two fatally, in the summer of 2020. The one-time police youth cadet was 17 when he went to Kenosha with an AR-style rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to safeguard property from the demonstrations that broke out over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.

Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot.

Prosecutors have portrayed Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed, while his lawyer has argued that he acted in self-defense, suggesting among other things that Rittenhouse feared his weapon would be taken away and used against him.

On Thursday, witnesses testified that a “hyperaggressive” Rosenbaum angrily threatened to kill Rittenhouse that night and that Rosenbaum was gunned down after he chased Rittenhouse and lunged for the young man’s rifle.

A state crime lab DNA analyst testified Friday that she tested swabs from the barrel guard from Rittenhouse’s rifle and did not find DNA from Rosenbaum or the other man killed that night, Anthony Huber. But Amber Rasmussen said she received no swabs from the actual barrel and would have no way of knowing if Rosenbaum touched it.

Under cross-examination by Rittenhouse attorney Corey Chirafasi, Rasmussen was shown still images of Huber and Rittenhouse and agreed they appeared to depict Huber touching the rifle. She also acknowledged that the absence of Huber’s DNA on the gun doesn’t mean he didn’t touch it.

In other testimony Friday, a Kenosha officer said that because of the chaos after the shooting and other gunfire that night, police didn’t realize Rittenhouse was the gunman as he approached a police vehicle.

Video of police allowing Rittenhouse to pass, even as people were shouting that he had just shot people, was widely circulated and cited by those who say he got preferential treatment because he is white.

However, Officer Pep Moretti said he drew his weapon and used pepper spray on Rittenhouse, regarding him initially as a threat because he was disobeying commands and advancing with a gun.

Rittenhouse was not arrested at the time. He returned to his home in Antioch, Illinois, and turned himself in the next day.

Moretti described the area at the time as a “war zone,” adding: “The city was burning and on fire and we’re just outnumbered and completely surrounded.”

In their testimony, Lackowski and another veteran, former Army infantryman Ryan Balch, both used military terminology that reflected their backgrounds as they spoke about patrolling the streets of Kenosha against protest violence.

Lackowski referred to “areas of occupation,” talked about taking up his “post” in a parking lot, and said he was trained in “shout, shove, show, shoot.”

“You shout, you shove, you show your firearm and you shoot,” Lackowski explained.

Balch used the term “plate carrier,” which he explained means body armor. He gave a detailed explanation of the differences between full metal jacket bullets and hollow points and talked about ensuring the armed citizens in Kenosha that night worked in pairs to protect each other.

According to testimony, Rosenbaum, 36, was unarmed and did not hurt anyone that night. During the clash with Rittenhouse, he threw a clear plastic hospital bag that he had been given to hold his toiletries.

Rosenbaum’s fiancee testified that hours before he was killed, she told him not to go downtown because of the unrest.

“When he left, he said that he would see me in the morning and he was all excited and ‘I love you.’ It was a pleasant visit,” Swart said.

After getting a call from the medical examiner that Rosenbaum was dead, Swart said, she fell to her knees and cried and then found a video online showing him dying: “I broke down and I can’t get that image out of my head.”

In the morning, Swart said, she went to the spot at a car dealership where Rosenbaum lay on the ground after being shot. “And I put my hand in it and my hand was wet with his blood,” she said. “And that’s again when I collapsed on the ground.”

Rosenbaum’s killing has emerged as one of the most crucial moments that night because it set in motion the bloodshed that followed moments later.

Rittenhouse shot and killed Huber, a 26-year-old protester seen on bystander video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. Rittenhouse then wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, who had a gun in his hand as he stepped toward the young man.

Rittenhouse could get life in prison if convicted in the case that has stirred furious debate over self-defense, vigilantism, the right to bear arms and the racial unrest that erupted around the U.S. after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other cases like it.

UPDATE: Judge tosses out juror in Rittenhouse case after telling joke about Jacob Blake

THURSDAY 11/4/2021 10:45 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) – A juror involved in the Kyle Rittenhouse case was dismissed after telling a joke to court security about the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Before testimony resumed Thursday, the judge dismissed a juror who had made a joke to a court security officer earlier this week about the police shooting of Jacob Blake — the Black man whose wounding triggered the Kenosha protests. The juror, a retired man, declined to repeat the joke for the judge.

“It is clear that the appearance of bias is present and it would seriously undermine the outcome of the case,” Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said.

Local 5 will continue to update this story.

UPDATE: Prosecutors show Rittenhouse trial jurors video of shootings

WEDNESDAY 11/03/2021 6:00 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The jury at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial over a string of shootings on the streets of Kenosha watched one of the central pieces of video evidence Wednesday — footage of a man chasing Rittenhouse and throwing a plastic bag at him just before the man was gunned down.

Someone is heard yelling “F— you!,” followed by the sounds of the four shots Rittenhouse fired, killing Joseph Rosenbaum, though the shooting itself is not clearly seen on camera. Rosenbaum was the first of three men Rittenhouse shot that night, two of them fatally.

“Oh, he shot him! He shot him, man. He shot him. He shot him, man. He laid him out,” the person making the video can be heard saying.

Footage shown to the jury also depicted Rosenbaum lying on the ground as frantic bystanders surrounded him to help. He had a wound to his head, and a bystander placed a shirt on it to apply pressure.

The scenes were part of a wealth of video played in court that captured the chaos and the repeated sound of gunfire on the night the 17-year-old aspiring police officer fired an assault-style rifle during a tumultuous demonstration against police brutality in the summer of 2020.

In the courtroom, Rittenhouse — seated in the jurors’ line of sight — kept his eyes fixed on a desktop screen and showed no emotion as video depicted him walking down a street with his rifle and shooting at protesters, people scattering and screaming.

Many of the videos played in court were found by police on social media sites, where lots of footage was streamed live or promptly posted after the bloodshed, and many of the scenes were familiar to those following the case.

Rittenhouse, now 18, could get life in prison if convicted in the politically polarizing case that has stirred furious debate over self-defense, vigilantism, the right to bear arms, and the racial unrest that erupted around the U.S. after the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other cases like it.

The young man traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois after violent protests broke out over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer. Rittenhouse said he went there to protect property after two nights in which rioters set fires and ransacked businesses.

Prosecutors have portrayed him as the instigator of the bloodshed, while his lawyer argued that he acted in self-defense after Rosenbaum tried to grab his gun and others in the crowd kicked him in the face and hit him in the head with a skateboard.

A Kenosha detective who took the stand detailed injuries Rittenhouse suffered that night, all seemingly minor: a half-inch scratch above his eyebrow, a small cut inside his lower lip, a 2-inch scratch below his collarbone, a 2-inch scratch on his forearm, a scratch on his back and two bumps the size of pennies on his head.

Prosecutor Thomas Binger drove home the point that Rosenbaum was apparently unarmed, asking Kenosha Detective Martin Howard if any of the videos shown in court indicated Rosenbaum had a weapon of any kind. Howard replied no.

“No gun?” Binger asked.

“I can only see a plastic bag he’s carrying,” Howard said.

“So no gun? Binger asked.

“No,” replied Howard, who repeated the answer when Binger also asked him whether Rosenbaum carried a knife, bat, or club.

But on cross-examination, Rittenhouse attorney Mark Richards asked Howard what can happen if a weapon is taken from someone.

“It can be used against them as a deadly and dangerous weapon, correct?” Richards asked.

“Correct,” Howard replied.

Richards also said that Rittenhouse shouted, “Friendly! Friendly! Friendly!” as he was being chased by Rosenbaum. Howard agreed and said it looked as if Rosenbaum was gaining ground on Rittenhouse.

The defense attorney, describing how Rosenbaum came out from behind a car to meet Rittenhouse before the shooting, said to the detective: “Correct me if I’m wrong, but this looks like the classic ambush.”

After prosecutors objected, Richards said: “Mr. Rosenbaum is in hiding as my client arrives, correct?”

“It appears so, yes,” Howard answered.

Other video played for the jury showed Rittenhouse saying before the shootings that he was there to protect property and provide medical care to anyone who was hurt.

An interviewer mentioned non-lethal weapons and Rittenhouse responded: “We don’t have non-lethal.” The man filming the video then asked if Rittenhouse was “full-on” ready to defend the property and he replied, “Yes, we are.”

Yet another video captured the sound of a single gunshot, which authorities said was fired into the air by someone in the crowd other than Rittenhouse. The defense has said that that shot made Rittenhouse think he was under attack.

Jurors set their notepads aside and kept their eyes glued to the courtroom monitors as video showed people carrying one of the wounded as some screamed for medical help.

Earlier, jurors seemed to take extensive notes when testimony turned to the level of violence at the Kenosha protests, which included protesters throwing firebombs and rocks on the night of the shooting.

Moments after shooting the 36-year-old Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, who was seen on bystander video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard.

Rittenhouse then wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, a protester from West Allis, Wisconsin, who had a gun in his hand as he stepped toward Rittenhouse.

UPDATE: Starkly different portrayals of Rittenhouse in Kenosha trial

TUESDAY 11/02/2021 7:18 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Jurors heard starkly different portrayals of Kyle Rittenhouse — instigator or victim — in opening statements at his trial Tuesday on charges of shooting three people on the streets of Kenosha during a turbulent protest against racial injustice.


A prosecutor said Rittenhouse set the bloodshed in motion when he triggered a confrontation with a man that night and then killed him with a bullet to the back.


But Rittenhouse’s attorney told the jury that his client acted in self-defense after the man tried to grab Rittenhouse’s gun and others kicked the teen in the face and clubbed him in the head with a skateboard. “You as jurors will end up looking at it from the standpoint of a 17-year-old under the circumstances as they existed,” defense attorney Mark Richards said.

Rittenhouse, now 18, is charged with killing two men and wounding a third during the summer of 2020 with an assault-style rifle. The one-time aspiring police officer could get life in prison if convicted. The teenager traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois, just across the Wisconsin state line, after protests broke out over the shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white Kenosha police officer.

Rittenhouse said he went there to protect property after two nights in which rioters set fires and ransacked businesses. The first witness was Dominick Black, who was dating Rittenhouse’s sister at the time. Black faces charges he bought the rifle for Rittenhouse months before the shootings because the teen was not old enough to own one at the time.

Black testified that he and Rittenhouse went to downtown Kenosha to help protect a car dealership after vehicles were burned the night before. Black said he thought nobody would start trouble if they saw him with his assault-style rifle. He also said Rittenhouse helped give medical aid and put out fires.

Black said he was on the roof as protesters hurled gasoline bombs and rocks at the business. He said he heard gunshots but didn’t know Rittenhouse was involved until the teenager called and said, “I shot somebody, I shot somebody.”

Afterward, Black said, Rittenhouse was “freaking out. He was really scared. He was pale, shaking a lot.” Black said Rittenhouse told him that he acted in self-defense because “people were trying to hurt him.” In his opening statement, prosecutor Thomas Binger described the unrest in Kenosha as “two of the roughest nights that our community has ever seen” and said outsiders were drawn to the city “like moths to a flame.”

Yet Binger repeatedly stressed that amid the hundreds of people in Kenosha and the anger and chaos in the streets, “the only person who killed anyone is the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse.”

“When we consider the reasonableness of the defendant’s actions, I ask you to keep this in mind,” Binger said, after explaining to the jury that a claim of self-defense can be valid only if Rittenhouse reasonably believed he was using deadly force to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.

The prosecutor said that it is not known exactly what words were said, but it is clear that Rittenhouse started a confrontation that led Joseph Rosenbaum to begin chasing Rittenhouse across a parking lot. Binger emphasized that Rosenbaum, 36, was killed by a shot to the back after he threw a plastic bag. The first two bullets hit Rosenbaum in the lower extremities, causing him to fall forward, the prosecutor noted.

Richards, the defense attorney, argued that it was Rosenbaum who “lit the fuse that night.” Rosenbaum yelled an expletive at Rittenhouse and lunged for his gun before Rittenhouse fired at him, according to the defense. Rittenhouse fired four shots in less than a second because Rosenbaum was “trying to take Kyle’s weapon from him to use against him,” Richards said.

Binger, the prosecutor, said that after shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse fled the scene instead of rendering aid, despite portraying himself as a medic earlier in the night. But Richards said Rittenhouse didn’t stop to help because the crowd wanted to “kill him,” and instead ran toward police.

The crowd at that point clearly believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter, according to the prosecutor.
Moments after shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, who was seen on bystander video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. The defense attorney portrayed Rittenhouse as the victim, saying Huber was “trying to separate the head from the body” with the skateboard.

Rittenhouse then wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, a protester from West Allis, Wisconsin, who had a gun in his hand as he stepped toward Rittenhouse. Prosecutors called FBI agent Brandon Cramin to testify about infrared surveillance video of the protest on the night of the shooting.

Prosecutors have said previously that the video would show that it was Rittenhouse following or chasing Rosenbaum at one point. They played a grainy video from 8,500 feet in which figures on the ground weren’t immediately identifiable. After a dispute between the two sides over whether additional surveillance videos exist that the defense hadn’t seen, Cramin, who testified off-camera by the court’s order, was asked by the judge if he could return and testify another day.

The defense pushed back against the notion that Rittenhouse was an outsider drawn to Kenosha by a call to arms on right-wing social media. Richards said Rittenhouse had strong ties to Kenosha — his father lived there and Rittenhouse worked in Kenosha County as a lifeguard — and had seen livestreams of what was happening.

As his attorney displayed photos and video clips from the night of the shootings, Rittenhouse, wearing a dark pinstriped suit and tie, leaned on his elbows to view the images on a desktop monitor. He sat ramrod straight as audio of gunfire was played, and occasionally turned toward jurors, seeming to scrutinize their reactions.

His mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, sat behind him. The most serious count against Rittenhouse, first-degree intentional homicide, is Wisconsin’s top murder charge.

Rittenhouse has been painted by supporters on the right — including foes of the Black Lives Matter movement — as a patriot who took a stand against lawlessness by demonstrators and exercised his Second Amendment gun rights. Others see him as a vigilante and police wannabe.

He is white, as were those he shot, but many activists see race as an underlying issue in the case, in part because the protesters were on the streets to decry police violence against Black people.
_ Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin, Forliti from Minneapolis. Associated Press writer Tammy Webber contributed from Fenton, Michigan.


Find AP’s full coverage on the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse at: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse

UPDATE: Opening statements begin in Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial

TUESDAY 11/2/2021 10:35 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Opening statements have begun in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the aspiring police officer who shot three people who were out on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a protest against racial injustice last year.

It took just one day to pick the jury Monday, despite the turbulent political passions unleashed by the shootings that left two dead and one wounded.

Rittenhouse was 17 when he traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois, just across the Wisconsin state line, in August 2020 after protests broke out over the shooting of a Black man by a white police officer.

Rittenhouse said he went there to protect property after two previous nights in which rioters set fires and ransacked businesses.

The jury must decide whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, as his lawyers claim, or was engaged in vigilantism when he opened fire with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.

Rittenhouse, now 18, faces a mandatory life sentence if convicted of the most serious count against him, first-degree intentional homicide, which is Wisconsin’s top murder charge.

About a dozen prospective jurors were dismissed Monday after they expressed strong opinions about the case or worried that they couldn’t be fair. Others worried about their personal safety — “No one wants to be sitting in this chair,” one woman said — but the 20-member panel was finally set by early evening.

“I figure either way this goes you’re going to have half the country upset with you and they react poorly,” said another woman, a special education teacher who expressed anxiety about serving. She was chosen.

The jury in the politically charged case must decide whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, as his lawyers claim, or was engaged in vigilantism when the 17-year-old opened fire with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle in August 2020, killing two men and wounding a third.

The jury includes 12 jurors and eight alternates; 11 are women and nine are men. Jurors were not asked to identify their race during the selection process, and the court did not immediately provide a racial breakdown of the group.

Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois during unrest that broke out after a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back. Rittenhouse said he went there to protect property after two previous nights marked by arson, gunfire and the ransacking of businesses.

The now-18-year-old Rittenhouse faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree homicide, the most serious charge against him.

Rittenhouse has been painted by supporters on the right — including foes of the Black Lives Matter movement — as a patriot who took a stand against lawlessness by demonstrators and exercised his Second Amendment gun rights. Others see him as a vigilante and police wannabe.

He is white, as were those he shot, but many activists see an undercurrent of race in the case, in part because the protesters were on the streets to decry police violence against Black people.

As jury selection got underway, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder stressed repeatedly that jurors must decide the case solely on what they hear in the courtroom, and cautioned: “This is not a political trial.”

“It was mentioned by both political campaigns and the presidential campaign last year, in some instances very, very imprudently,” he said.

The judge said Rittenhouse’s constitutional right to a fair trial, not the Second Amendment right to bear arms, will come into play, and “I don’t want it to get sidetracked into other issues.”

One of the jurors is a gun-owning woman with a high school education who said she was so afraid during the protests that she pulled her cars to the back of her house and made sure her doors were locked. She said she went downtown in the aftermath and cried.

Another juror, a man, said he owns a gun and has it for “home defense.” Another is a pharmacist who said that she was robbed at gunpoint in 2012 but that it would have no effect on her ability to weigh the evidence in this case.

Among those dropped from the case were a man who said he was at the site of the protests when “all that happened” and a woman who said she watched a livestream video of the events and wasn’t sure if she could put aside what she saw.

One person was dropped from the case after she said she believes in the Biblical injunction “Thou shall not kill,” even in cases of self-defense.

Prosecutor Thomas Binger also moved to dismiss a woman who said that she has a biracial granddaughter who participated in some of the protests and that she could not be impartial. Rittenhouse’s attorneys had no objection.

Rittenhouse’s attorney got a prospective juror dropped after she said she would find Rittenhouse guilty of all charges just because he was carrying an assault-style weapon. “I don’t think a weapon like that should belong to the general public,” the woman said.

Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, after Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse across a parking lot and threw a plastic bag at him shortly before midnight on Aug. 25. Moments later, as Rittenhouse was running down a street, he shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, a protester from West Allis, Wisconsin.

Bystander video captured Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse but not the actual shooting. Video showed Huber swinging a skateboard at Rittenhouse before he was shot. Grosskreutz had a gun in his hand as he stepped toward Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse faces two homicide counts and one of attempted homicide, along with charges of reckless endangering and illegal possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.

UPDATE: Jury seated for homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse

MONDAY 11/01/2021 7:22 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP)- A jury has been selected for the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the aspiring police officer who gunned down three people who were out on the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, during a protest against racial injustice last year.

It took just one day to pick the jury Monday, despite the turbulent political passions unleashed by the shooting. Two people were killed and one was wounded.

Opening statements are set to begin Tuesday morning, with the trial expected to last two weeks.

Rittenhouse was 17 when he traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois, just across the Wisconsin state line, during the unrest that broke out in August 2020 after a white Kenosha police officer shot and wounded Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back. Rittenhouse said he went there to protect property after two previous nights marked by arson, gunfire, and the ransacking of businesses.

The jury must decide whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, as his lawyers claim, or was engaged in vigilantism when he opened fire with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle.

Rittenhouse, now 18, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree homicide, the most serious charge against him.

ORIGINAL STORY: Judge hopes to seat Kyle Rittenhouse jury within a day

MONDAY 11/01/2021 9:54 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse was set to open Monday with the challenging task of seating jurors who haven’t already made up their minds about the young aspiring police officer who shot two people to death and wounded a third during a violent night of anti-racism protests last year.

Rittenhouse was 17 when he made the short trip from his home in Illinois, just across the Wisconsin state line, during protests that broke out in August 2020 after a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man. Rittenhouse, now 18, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree homicide, one of several charges against him.

Judge Bruce Schroeder, who has experience presiding over high-profile trials, told attorneys he thinks picking the jury from 150 prospective jurors can be accomplished in a day. The trial is expected to last two to three weeks.

Jury selection got off to a slow start Monday, as the judge played a mock game of “Jeopardy!” with jurors who were in the courtroom. This prompted many negative comments on a Facebook livestream of the trial, with many saying it was inappropriate, and one commenter writing: “This judge seems like he has lost touch with reality.”

As he asked the jury trivia questions on a range of topics, Schroeder also offered his own commentary on some of the questions. When the answer to one was the movie “Psycho,” Schroeder, 75, quipped: “Heard of it.”

The case has been polarizing, with Rittenhouse painted by his backers as a patriot exercising self-defense and Second Amendment gun rights. Others see him as a vigilante and police wannabe who never should have been armed in Kenosha in the first place. Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot, but many are watching his trial as the latest referendum on race and the American legal system.

Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, with an AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle after Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse across a parking lot and threw a plastic bag at him shortly before midnight on Aug. 25. Moments later, as Rittenhouse was running down a street, he shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, and shot and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, a protester from West Allis, Wisconsin.

Bystander video captured Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse but not the actual shooting. Video showed Huber swinging a skateboard at Rittenhouse before he was shot. Grosskreutz had a gun in his hand as he stepped toward Rittenhouse and was shot.

William Hanrahan, who spent 19 years as a prosecutor and was a Wisconsin circuit judge for 13, said the attorneys on the case will be trying to influence potential jurors during the selection process.

“What each side is going to do is attempt to prejudice the jury right out of the chute, to strategically plant seeds to subtly set forth their positions,” Hanrahan said. “For a seasoned judge, it’s going to be a challenge here because some lawyers are really good and able to slowly introduce their case in the form of questions to the potential jurors.”

Attorneys for both sides urged the judge to send questionnaires to the people summoned as potential jurors to detect bias and speed the process. Schroeder, the longest-serving circuit court judge in Wisconsin, denied the request.

The judge said he disliked questionnaires in general because he was afraid most people won’t fill them out or that it would tip them off that they may be on the Rittenhouse case, increasing the chances they would discuss it with friends and family.

Rittenhouse faces two homicide counts, one of attempted homicide and two of recklessly endangering safety for firing his weapon near others. He is also charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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