BREAKING: Rittenhouse found not guilty of all charges

Local News
FRIDAY 11/19/2021 12:14 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of all charges Friday after pleading self-defense in the deadly Kenosha shootings that became a flashpoint in the nation’s debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice.

The jury came back with its verdict after close to 3 1/2 days of deliberation. Rittenhouse, 18, cried and hugged one of his attorneys upon hearing the verdict.

Rittenhouse, 18, could have gotten life in prison if found guilty of the most serious charge against him.

He was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and recklessly endangering safety for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle.

The shootings took place during a night of protests over police violence against Black people in the tumultuous summer of 2020. Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot. The jury appeared to be overwhelmingly white.

UPDATE: Verdict reached in Rittenhouse trial

FRIDAY 11/19/2021 12:07 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (WFRV) – The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial has reached a verdict.

The verdict has not been announced, but the jury has reached the verdict. The judge is calling the jury down to read the verdict.

Local 5 will continue to update this story.

UPDATE: Rittenhouse jury returns for 4th day of deliberations

FRIDAY 11/19/2021 9:03 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The jury at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial returned for a fourth day of deliberations Friday, the morning after the judge raised eyebrows among lawyers when he let a juror take home a copy of the detailed legal instructions he gave to the panel.

Rittenhouse, 18, is on trial for killing two men and wounding a third with a rifle during a turbulent night of protests that erupted in Kenosha in the summer of 2020 after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a white police officer. Rittenhouse said he acted in self-defense, while the prosecution argued he instigated the bloodshed.

As the third day of deliberations ended Thursday, a juror asked Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder if she could take the jury instructions home, and he said yes. Before deliberations, Schroeder read the jury some 36 pages of explanation of the charges and the laws of self-defense.

After the jury departed, Rittenhouse attorney Mark Richards told the judge he feared that letting members take home instructions would lead to jurors looking things up in the dictionary or doing their own research.

Tom Grieve, a Milwaukee lawyer and former prosecutor not involved in the case, called the move “definitely unusual in my experience.”

“The natural issue is that it will precipitate armchair research and table discussion,” he said.

Even as the jury weighed the evidence, two mistrial requests from the defense hung over the case, with the potential to upend the verdict if the panel were to convict Rittenhouse. One of those requests asks the judge to go even further and bar prosecutors from retrying him.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers have complained that they were given an inferior copy of a potentially crucial video and that the prosecution asked improper questions of the defendant during cross-examination.

Rittenhouse was a 17-year-old former police youth cadet when he went to Kenosha in what he said was an effort to protect property after rioters set fires and ransacked businesses on previous nights.

He shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28. Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot.

The case has exposed deep divides among Americans over guns, racial injustice, vigilantism and self-defense in the U.S.

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

Also Thursday, Schroeder banned MSNBC from the courthouse after police said they briefly detained a man who had followed the jury bus and may have tried to photograph jurors.

NBC News said in a statement that the man was a freelancer who received a citation for a traffic violation that took place near the jury vehicle, and he “never photographed or intended to photograph them.”

UPDATE: Jury in Rittenhouse trial fail to reach verdict, deliberations resume Friday

THURSDAY 11/18/2021 4:08 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The jury in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial will move into the fourth day of deliberations after being unable to reach a verdict on Thursday.

According to a reporter from Local 5’s sister station in Milwaukee, CBS 58, the jury is breaking deliberations for the night and will resume on Friday.

Furthermore, Jacobo shared that Judge Schroeder granted the jury’s request to “take the jury instructions home” but will still not be able to discuss the contents of the trial with anyone.

UPDATE: Rittenhouse jury to resume after fresh mistrial request

THURSDAY 11/18/2021 9:16 a.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The jury in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial was to move into a third day of deliberations Thursday, even as its request to re-watch video in the case sparked a fresh bid from his attorneys for a mistrial.

Judge Bruce Schroeder did not immediately rule on the request, which stemmed from the defense team’s assertion that it received an inferior copy of a potentially critical video from prosecutors. It was the second mistrial motion from the defense in a week.

At issue Wednesday was a piece of drone video that prosecutors showed the jury during closing arguments in an attempt to undermine Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim and portray him as the instigator of the bloodshed in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. Prosecutors said the footage showed him pointing his rifle at protesters before the shooting erupted.

Rittenhouse attorney Corey Chirafisi said the defense initially received a smaller compressed version of the video and didn’t get the higher-quality larger one used by the prosecution until the evidence portion of the case was over.

He said that the defense would have approached things differently if it had received the better footage earlier and that it is now asking for “a level, fair playing field.”

Chirafisi said the mistrial request would be made “without prejudice,” meaning prosecutors could still retry Rittenhouse.

Last week, the defense asked for a mistrial with prejudice, meaning Rittenhouse could not be put on trial again. That request was prompted by what the defense said were improper questions asked by prosecutor Thomas Binger during his cross-examination of Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse, 18, is on trial on homicide and attempted homicide charges for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle during a tumultuous night of protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Black man, by a white police officer. Rittenhouse, a then-17-year-old former police youth cadet, said he went to Kenosha to protect property from rioters.

He shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28. Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot. The case has become a flashpoint in the debate over guns, racial injustice, vigilantism and self-defense in the U.S.

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

The dispute over the video erupted after the jurors asked to re-watch footage on the second day of their deliberations.

Defense attorneys said they would object to the jury viewing the drone video. The same footage prompted a heated dispute earlier in the trial over technical questions of whether a still image taken from the video was distorted when it was enlarged.

The prosecution contends the video proves Rittenhouse lied on the stand when he said he didn’t point his rifle at protesters. But the key moment in the video is hard to decipher because of how far away the drone was and how small a figure Rittenhouse is in the frame.

A smaller file size or lower-resolution video file is fuzzier and grainier, particularly if played on a larger screen, said Dennis Keeling, an adjunct professor in the cinema and television arts department at Columbia College Chicago. That’s why people working with video footage are careful to check the file size, length and other details after making a copy to ensure the new version is what they wanted, he added.

Prosecutors told the judge Wednesday that the jury saw the highest-quality version during the trial and that it was not the state’s fault that the file size got smaller when received by the defense.

“We’re focusing too heavily on a technological glitch,” prosecutor James Kraus said.

The judge said he had “qualms” about admitting the video during the trial, but because it had already been shown in court, he would allow the jury to re-watch it during deliberations.

But if it turns out the video should not have been admitted into evidence, “it’s going to be ugly,” Schroeder warned.

He said the mistrial request will have to be addressed if there is a guilty verdict.

If Rittenhouse is acquitted, the issue will be moot. But if he is found guilty, a mistrial ruling would essentially void the verdict.

Julius Kim, a Milwaukee-based defense attorney who has been watching the case, said a mistrial could be declared even if the judge finds it was an honest mistake or a technical problem.

But to win a mistrial, the defense will have to meet a high bar and explain to the judge why what happened actually hurt Rittenhouse, said Ion Meyn, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School.

“You can’t just say, ‘The state gave me a lower-quality video and therefore I get a mistrial,’” Meyn said. “That’s a losing argument for sure.”

Earlier in the day, the judge criticized news coverage of the case and second-guessing from legal experts in the media, saying he would “think long and hard” about allowing televised trials in the future.

He took exception to news stories about his decisions not to allow the men Rittenhouse shot to be called “victims” and to let Rittenhouse draw the lots that determined which jurors were alternates. The judge also complained about criticism that he had yet to rule on the earlier mistrial request.

Schroeder said he hadn’t had a chance to read the motion because he had just received it and wanted to give the state a chance to weigh in.

“It’s just a shame that irresponsible statements are being made,” the judge said of comments in a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel story from law school professors.

ORIGINAL: No verdict after daylong deliberations by Rittenhouse jury

WEDNESDAY 11/17/2021 1:46 p.m.

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The jury at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial deliberated a full day on Wednesday without reaching a verdict over whether he was the instigator in a night of bloodshed in Kenosha or a concerned citizen who came under attack while trying to protect property.

The case went to the anonymous jury after the judge, in an unusual move, allowed Rittenhouse himself to play a minor role in the selection of the final panel of 12 people whose job was to decide his fate.

Rittenhouse reached into a raffle drum and drew numbered slips that determined which of the 18 jurors who sat through the case would deliberate and which ones would be dismissed as alternates.

That task is usually performed by a court clerk, not the defendant. Judge Bruce Schroeder said later in the day that he has been having defendants do it for “I’m going to say 20 years, at least.”

The jury will return Thursday morning to continue its work.

Rittenhouse, 18, faces life in prison if convicted as charged for using an 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. The former police youth cadet is white, as were those he shot.

Rittenhouse testified he acted in self-defense, while prosecutors argued he provoked the violence. The case has become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate over guns, racial-justice protests, vigilantism and law and order.

The jury appeared to be overwhelmingly white. Prospective jurors were not asked to identify their race during the selection process, and the court did not provide a racial breakdown.

As the jury deliberated, dozens of protesters — some for Rittenhouse, some against — stood outside the courthouse. Some talked quietly with those on the other side, while others shouted insults. One woman could be heard repeatedly calling some Rittenhouse supporters “white supremacists.”

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who faced criticism over his response to the Kenosha protests in 2020, urged calm as the jury deliberated. He announced last week that 500 members of the National Guard would stand ready for duty in Kenosha if needed.

“Regardless of the outcome in this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and across our state,” Evers tweeted. He added: “I ask all those who choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights in every community to do so safely and peacefully.”

The large protests that some had anticipated did not materialize during the trial’s testimony phase. On most days, only a few demonstrators gathered on the courthouse steps, and the high fence that protected the building during last year’s unrest is gone.

Rittenhouse was 17 when he went Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, in what he said was an effort to protect property from rioters in the days after a Black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a white Kenosha police officer.

In a fast-moving series of clashes in the streets, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28.

During closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Thomas Binger said that Rittenhouse was a “wannabe soldier” who set the deadly chain of events in motion by bringing a rifle to a protest and pointing it at protesters just before he was chased.

But Rittenhouse lawyer Mark Richards countered that Rittenhouse was ambushed by a “crazy person” — Rosenbaum.

Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum chased him down and made a grab for his rifle, causing him to fear the weapon was going to be used against him. His account of Rosenbaum’s behavior was largely corroborated by video and some of the prosecution’s own witnesses.

Huber was shot after he hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard. And Grosskreutz admitted he had his own gun pointed at Rittenhouse when he was shot.

In his instructions to the jury, Schroeder said that to accept Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense, the jurors must find that he believed there was an unlawful threat to him and that the amount of force he used was reasonable and necessary.

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

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