Kyle Rittenhouse trial: jury to continue deliberations for second day

No verdict reached in the trial that has caught attention for its violence and debate over US gun laws

The jury in the Wisconsin murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse ended their first day of deliberations on Tuesday without reaching a verdict, pushing their efforts to form a consensus on the teenager's guilt or innocence into a second day.

Mr Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, on August 25, 2020.

The shootings took place in Kenosha during protests — marred by arson, rioting and looting — that followed the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, who was left paralysed from the waist down.

After about eight hours of deliberations, Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder said he would accept the jury's request to call it a day and come back at 9am on Wednesday.

“I understand that you wish to break for the evening,” Mr Schroeder said. “You are in charge at this particular point.”

The jury of seven women and five men sent two notes to the judge on Tuesday, neither giving any indication of the substance of their discussions.

The first note asked for extra copies of the first six pages of the judge's 36-page jury instructions and the second requested copies of the final 30 pages.

The prosecution at the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse on Monday accused the American teenager of provoking the “entire incident” that led to him shooting three men during volatile protests over race and policing in Wisconsin last year.

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger told the jury to ignore Mr Rittenhouse's argument that he was attacked and fired his semi-automatic AR-15-style rifle in self-defence, killing two men and wounding a third.

Meanwhile, the defence team used their closing arguments to state that Mr Rittenhouse was afraid his gun was going to be taken away and used to kill him.

Defence lawyer Mark Richards called Joseph Rosenbaum a “rioter” and a “crazy person” who went after Mr Rittenhouse unprovoked.

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

He added Mr Rittenhouse never pointed his gun before being chased: “It didn’t happen.”

The defence lawyer also argued that the evidence contradicts Mr Binger's argument that the men attacked him because he appeared to be a mass shooter going after protesters.

Mr Richards said Mr Rittenhouse was attacked by a “mob” and that the prosecution was calling Mr Rittenhouse an “active shooter” because of “the loaded connotations of that word".

Quote
If you are the one who is threatening others, you lose the right to self-defence
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger

Prosecution lawyer Mr Binger said Mr Rittenhouse instigated the fatal clashes by brandishing his weapon.

Mr Binger tried to demonstrate this by raising the gun in front of the jury.

“That is what provokes this entire incident,” he said. “If you are the one who is threatening others, you lose the right to self-defence,” the prosecutor said.

Mr Binger told the jury that Mr Rittenhouse had no connection to the business he said he was going to protect, he ran around with a semi-automatic rifle and he lied about being an emergency medical technician.

“Does that suggest to you that he genuinely is there to help?” Mr Binger asked.

The prosecutor repeatedly showed a segment of drone video that he said shows Mr Rittenhouse pointing the gun at protesters after setting down a fire extinguisher.

“This is the provocation. This is what starts this incident,” the prosecutor said.

Mr Rittenhouse faces charges including intentional homicide — punishable by life in prison — though Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.

The accused, 17 at the time, travelled the few miles from his home to Kenosha on August 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 Mr Rittenhouse shot and killed Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 28.

He has argued self-defence 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 the judge to let the jury consider several lesser charges if they acquit him on the original counts. Mr Schroeder indicated on Friday that he would allow some of what prosecutors sought when he gave the jury instructions on Monday.

Some of the prosecution's own witnesses also seemed to strengthen Mr Rittenhouse’s self-defence claims.

Videographer Richie McGinniss gave evidence that Rosenbaum had chased Mr Rittenhouse and lunged for his rifle right before Mr Rittenhouse shot him. Ryan Balch, a military veteran, gave evidence that Rosenbaum threatened to kill Mr Rittenhouse and others.

Mr Grosskreutz, the only man shot who survived, acknowledged that he had a gun in his hand as he approached Mr Rittenhouse and that it was pointed at him.

Among the trial’s most compelling moments was Mr Rittenhouse’s own evidence. 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,” Mr Rittenhouse said, as he sobbed uncontrollably.

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

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

Agencies contributed to this report

Updated: November 17th 2021, 12:30 AM
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