KENOSHA, Wis. – Jurors began deliberations Tuesday in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager facing criminal charges after shooting three people, two fatally, during civil unrest last summer in Kenosha.
Attorneys for Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, have argued that he opened fire on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, in self-defense after going to downtown Kenosha to protect a business and offer medical aid. Prosecutors have sought to portray the teen as an outsider who came to the city armed with a gun and looking for trouble.
The shootings claimed the lives of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28, was injured.
Update 7:02 p.m. EST Nov. 16: The jury returned to the courtroom briefly just before 7 p.m. EST Tuesday and confirmed that deliberations have ended for the day.
Deliberations are slated to resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Earlier in the day, jurors requested extra copies of the jury instructions.
According to the courtroom pool reporter, jurors first requested additional copies of the first six pages of instructions, which were provided.
The request came about two hours after deliberations began.
Pages 2 through 3 focus on the self-defense and provocation instructions, while page 4 focuses on crimes requiring intent to kill. Pages 5 and 6 focus on the first count of first-degree reckless homicide for the fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, according to the pool reporter.
Jurors later requested the balance of the instructions, and were provided copies of pages 7 through 36 at about 4 p.m. EST.
Update 10:15 a.m. EST Nov. 16: Six of the 18 jurors who heard testimony in recent weeks in the Rittenhouse trial have been dismissed, with the remaining 12 beginning deliberations Tuesday morning.
At the start of proceedings Tuesday, the numbers of the jurors who have sat through testimony and arguments from the defense and the prosecution since Nov. 1 were placed into a raffle drum, with Rittenhouse choosing the numbers of the six people who would serve as alternate jurors.
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder asked the chosen jurors to continue to refrain from discussing the case and avoid coverage of the trial. He said the six would remain in the courthouse in case any of them are needed to take the place of deliberating jurors.
“There have been rare instances … where jurors have been restored to the jury after having been dismissed, so that is conceivable that would happen in this case — it’s not likely, but it’s in fact possible,” he said.
Original report: Twenty jurors were initially chosen to hear evidence in the case, including the 12 who will begin deliberations on Tuesday and eight alternates, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. In the weeks since jury selection, two people have been dismissed, according to the newspaper, including a man who made a joke about the police shooting of Jacob Blake – the shooting which fueled last year’s protests in Kenosha – and a woman who said she was having complications related to her pregnancy.
Since the trial started Nov. 1, jurors have heard from about 30 witnesses, including Rittenhouse, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Closing arguments Monday focused on whether the now-18-year-old provoked the violence that led to the shootings or if he acted in self-defense.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said that Rittenhouse, who lived in nearby Antioch, Illinois, was one of the “chaos tourists” who descended on the city after a police officer shot Blake during a domestic incident on Aug. 23, 2020, sparking protests.
“The defendant came from outside our community carrying a gun that wasn’t his because he expected and anticipated violence that night, and he pretended to guard what turned out to be an empty building owned by people he’d never even met while fraudulently claiming all night long to be an EMT,” the prosecutor said.
In his closing statements, defense attorney Mark Richards noted that Rittenhouse had family and friends in Kenosha and that he also worked in the area. He said Rosenbaum was acting “irrational and crazy” on the night he was shot by Rittenhouse and that things would have been much worse if Rittenhouse hadn’t acted.
“Mr. Rosenbaum was hell-bent on starting trouble that night,” he said. “Kyle shot Joseph Rosenbaum to stop a threat to his person, and I’m glad he shot him, because if Joseph Rosenbaum had got that gun, I don’t for a minute believe he wouldn’t have used it against somebody else.”
Binger argued that Rosenbaum had a big mouth and a “Napoleon complex,” but that he had done nothing worse on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, then light a Dumpster on fire and tip over an empty port-a-potty.
“If he were alive today … I’d probably try and prosecute him for arson. But I can’t because the defendant killed him,” he said. “That’s the way we deal with people that do these things. When you commit arson, we prosecute you. We don’t execute you in the street.”
The August 2020 shooting exposed bitter divisions nationwide over guns, protests and policing, The Associated Press reported. It happened amid protests nationwide over police violence and racism following the May 2020 death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police.
Last week, Gov. Tony Evers activated 500 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops to assist authorities in Kenosha ahead of an expected verdict in the case.