Kenosha, Wis. (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse was badly shaken after three people were shot during a street unrest in Kenosha, at one point telling a man he was involved in an effort to protect protesters from damaging businesses That was “my life could be over,” according to testimony at his murder trial.
“He repeats, ‘I just shot someone,’ and I believe that at some point he said he had to shoot someone,” testified Nicholas Smith, who was at a car dealership in August 2020. Rittenhouse and was the first witness called by his defense team when starting his case on Tuesday.
Another witness in Rittenhouse’s group, Joanne Fiedler, described her as pale, trembling, sweating and stuttering after the shooting.
“Oh my god, my life could be over,” Fiedler quoted Rittenhouse as saying. She said she didn’t give any details about what happened, but told her that she “had to do it.”
Rittenhouse, now 18, killed two people and injured a third during a night of turbulent demonstrations against racial injustice in Kenosha in the summer of 2020.
The former police youth cadet from Antioch, Illinois, went to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an attempt to protect property from the raging protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake. had broken. , a black man, by a white Kenosha police officer,
While Rittenhouse is white, as she was shot, the matter has sparked debate. Vigilance, the right to bear arms, and the unrest that broke out around America that summer over the killing of George Floyd and other police violence against black people.
With testimony to resume Wednesday, one question was whether Rittenhouse would testify on his behalf. Several legal experts said it looked unlikely after several witnesses called by the prosecution gave evidence to substantiate their self-defense claim.
Prosecutors rested Tuesday after a drone video that gave jurors a new view of Rittenhouse’s fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum — the event that sent Rittenhouse away from the scene, was quickly followed by other demonstrators. who demanded to stop him.
In that burst of action, Rittenhouse killed Anthony Huber, a 26-year-old protester seen video clubbing Rittenhouse with a skateboard. Rittenhouse wounded 27-year-old protester and volunteer medic Gage Grosskretz, who was shot after pointing his gun at Rittenhouse.
The jury observed that the drone video was zoomed-in and slowed down to show Rosenbaum followed Rittenhouse, and then Rittenhouse turned around and shot Rosenbaum. A pathologist testified that Rosenbaum had soot injuries that could indicate that his hand was on the barrel of Rittenhouse’s rifle.
But it was unclear from the video footage whether Rosenbaum was holding on to Rittenhouse’s gun or trying to take it away, said Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s Office witness Dr. Doug Kelly said.
Fiedler, a defense witness, accompanied Rittenhouse outside the car dealership just before the first shooting, and said he was being yelled at and taunted by protesters, including Rosenbaum. But Fiedler, who said he carried a pistol, testified that he never threatened Rittenhouse or pointed his gun at anyone.
“The whole night was pretty shocking, but we didn’t really do anything,” Fiedler said, yelling at the guards at the store. “We just stood there. You have to ignore it.”
Fiedler said he later opened the dealership door to Rittenhouse after the shooting, and appeared to be “in utter shock” and told her he had shot someone.
Last week, witnesses testified that Rosenbaum, 36, had been “over-aggressive” and “acting belligerently” that night and threatened to kill Rittenhouse at one point. An eyewitness said Rosenbaum was shot after chasing Rittenhouse and hissing for his rifle.
Wisconsin’s self-defense law allows someone to use lethal force only if “necessary to prevent imminent death or major bodily harm.” The jury must decide whether Rittenhouse believed he was in such distress and whether that belief was justified under the circumstances.
On Tuesday, Rittenhouse turned his head and took his eyes off a defense-table monitor as prosecutors displayed medical examiner photos of Huber’s body on a gurney, a gunshot wound clearly visible on his chest. Had been. Rittenhouse took a deep breath as Rosenbaum’s autopsy photos showed his injuries for the jury.
Some jurors also found it difficult to look at the images for long periods of time, with one looking at a monitor over their shoulder, then looking straight ahead.
Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin; Forlity from Minneapolis; Weber from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writer Michael Tarm contributed from Kenosha.
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