Kenosha, Wis. (NWN) — The closing debate in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial began Monday with a prosecutor asking whether Rittenhouse was in fact helping the night she showed up at Kenosha with a rifle at a racial injustice protest .
Prosecutor Thomas Binger told the jury that Rittenhouse had nothing to do with the business he said he was going to protect, he ran around with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, and that he hired an emergency medical technician. lied about being.
“Does that let you know that he’s really there to help?” Binger asked.
Binger repeatedly showed a segment of the drone video, which he said showed Rittenhouse pointing a gun at protesters after setting up a fire extinguisher.
“It is the provocation. This is what started this incident,” said the prosecutor.
Rittenhouse, how 18, killed two people and injured a third during a turbulent night of protests in the summer of 2020, sparked a bitter debate in America over guns, vigilantism, racial injustice and the law and order situation.
Prosecutors have sought to portray Rittenhouse as the attacker who created a dangerous situation with his semi-automatic rifle for the first time that night, while Rittenhouse has said he feared for his life and attempted self-defense. worked in
Each side was given 2 1/2 hours for the jury to present their case before the deliberations began.
The Antioch, Illinois young man faces a mandatory life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him, first degree willful manslaughter.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he traveled a few miles from his home to Kenosha on August 25, 2020, as the city was engulfed by violent protests, after a white police officer shot and injured a black man, Jacob Blake. After that it flared up. Rittenhouse said he was there to protect the property.
Supporters hail him as a hero who took a stand against anarchy; Enemies have called him a Vigilant.
Earlier on Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a man under the age of 18, a misdemeanor that appeared to be one of the most likely charges. For prosecutors to prove a conviction.
The judge then launched the jury into 36 pages of legal instructions, which explained the charges and the laws of self-defense.
A minor weapon charge can carry a prison sentence of up to nine months.
But the defense argued that Wisconsin law has an exception relating to the length of the weapon’s barrel. Prosecutors argued that the defense was misreading the statute. The judge had previously sided with prosecutors twice, refusing to dismiss the charge, but he also said the law was written confusingly.
After prosecutors admitted Monday that Rittenhouse’s rifle was not short-barreled, the judge dismissed the charge.
The public interest in closing the arguments was evident in the morning, when more people than usual lined up outside Court Room 209 to get seats.
Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, listened carefully in court during the jury’s instructions.
bystander video The crucial minutes were captured when Rittenhouse shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded 28-year-old Gage Grosskretz.
Rittenhouse is white, as is the case with the three men he shot. The case has polarized Americans, questioning racial justice, Vigilance, Second Amendment right to bear arms, and white privilege.
But some prosecution witnesses – and a wealth of videos – largely backed up his claims of self-defense.
Perhaps in recognition of that, prosecutors asked the judge to consider the jury several lesser charges if they acquit him in the original cases. Schroeder agreed to do so on Monday.
In Huber’s murder case, the judge said that if jurors find that Rittenhouse is not guilty of first-degree willful manslaughter, they can find out whether he is guilty of second-degree willful manslaughter. If he is not guilty of that count, they can decide whether he is guilty of first-degree negligent manslaughter.
In his directions, the judge said that in order to determine whether Rittenhouse acted legally in self-defense, the jury would have to find that he believed there was an unlawful threat to him and that he used as much force. It was proper and necessary.
Schroeder told jurors that if they found that Rittenhouse acted legally in self-defense on the top offense, they should not consider the lesser charges. “You’re done, and you can reverse a not guilty verdict without considering lesser offenses,” he said.
Among the prosecution witnesses was videographer Richie McGinnis, who testified that Rosenbaum followed Rittenhouse and lunged for his rifle just before he was shot. That night Ryan Balch, a military veteran in Rittenhouse’s group, testified that Rosenbaum had threatened to kill Rittenhouse and the others if they were found alone.
Grosskretz for his part acknowledged on the stand that he approached Rittenhouse with his own gun towards the young man. As for Huber, he hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard before hitting him with a gun.
Rittenhouse’s own testimony was one of the most compelling moments of the trial. In the nearly six hours on the stand – much of it true and real – he said he feared Rosenbaum would snatch his gun and kill him and others. He said that 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 up to determine which of the 18 jurors who heard the testimony would be intentional, with the rest being dismissed as optional.
With a passing ruling, Governor Tony Evers said that 500 National Guard members would be ready for duty in Kenosha if local law enforcement requested them.
This story has been updated to correct Gaige Grosskreutz’s age to 28.
Bauer reported from Madison and Forlity from Minneapolis.
Get full coverage of NWN’s Rittenhouse trial: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse