Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Closing Arguments: What We Learned

“Mr. Rosenbaum was shot because he was chasing my client,” Mr. Richards said, “because he was going to kill him, take his gun, and carry out the threats he made.”

On the day of the shootings, Mr. Rittenhouse traveled to downtown Kenosha, which had erupted in protests that included looting and arson after a white police officer, Rusten Sheskey, shot Jacob Blake, a Black resident. Mr. Rittenhouse has said he went to Kenosha to protect property and provide medical treatment, but things quickly got violent after someone near him fired a gun.

The day of closing arguments began with a packed courtroom full of spectators, the first time in the 11-day trial that every seat in the courtroom was taken. Hannah Gittings, the girlfriend of Anthony Huber, the second man who was shot and killed by Mr. Rittenhouse, sat next to Kariann Swart, Mr. Rosenbaum’s fiancée. Wendy Rittenhouse, Mr. Rittenhouse’s mother, sat in her usual seat in the courtroom, alongside her two daughters.

Judge Bruce Schroeder of Kenosha County Circuit Court and the lawyers debated the language of voluminous jury instructions on six criminal charges that Mr. Rittenhouse had originally faced. The judge dismissed the least serious of the charges, a misdemeanor charge of illegally possessing a dangerous weapon as a minor. Wisconsin is an open carry state where it is legal for adults to carry firearms openly, but state law prohibits minors from possessing firearms except in limited circumstances.

The judge sided with Mr. Rittenhouse’s defense lawyers, who argued that the language of the state law does not prohibit a 17-year-old from carrying a rifle with a long barrel, as prosecutors had contended.

In a win for the prosecution, the judge told jurors to weigh some less serious charges along with the most serious counts they have been asked to consider. Giving jurors instructions on lesser charges can be significant, legal experts say, because the lesser charges offer jurors a path to compromise if they disagree on the most serious offenses.

For example, for the most serious charge Mr. Rittenhouse faces — first-degree intentional homicide for killing Mr. Huber, 26 — the judge told jurors that they also had the option of finding the defendant guilty of second-degree intentional homicide or first-degree reckless homicide.

Source: NYT > Top Stories

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