Monday saw prosecutors and defense counsels in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial deliver their closing counsel. This comes in the wake of the case going to the jury as Rittenhouse, 18, is awaiting judgement in a trial that charges him with killing two men and wounding a third person at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020.
Rittenhouse, 17 when he shot the victims, left his home in Antioch, Illinois for Kenosha, armed with an AR-15 style rifle to help protect local businesses and first aid to the injured as the protests over the police shooting of Jacob Black was turning into civil unrest.
According to him and his attorneys, shooting Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and wounding Gauge Grosskreutz were all done in self-defense. “I did nothing wrong. I was defending myself,” he said in his testimony last week.
Prosecutors disputed his claim of self-defense and based their closing arguments on that. According to the state, Rittenhouse is an “active shooter” and aggressor who faced no imminent threat of great bodily harm or death but instead was a threat to others and chose to lie about it.
In the words of Assistant District Attorney James Krause when addressing the jury, “It’s not up for Mr Rittenhouse to be the judge, the jury and eventually the executioner. The only imminent threat that night was Mr Rittenhouse.”
In the client’s defense, the defense counsel maintained that Rittenhouse’s actions were allowed under the law and reiterated his statements that described the threats he claimed he faced from rioters. They asked if the police were pressured to arrest him while accusing the district attorney’s office of rushing to judgment.
Defense attorney Mark Richards said while addressing the jury: “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a political case. We can take politics out of it, as in Democrat and Republican, but the district attorney’s office is marching forward with this case because they need somebody to be responsible. They need somebody to put and say, ‘we did it, he’s the person who brought terror to Kenosha.’”
The two sides submitted video evidence to back up their claims about the events. It was then left to the prosecutors to prove that the claims of justification for the shootings were moot.
Rittenhouse faces multiple charges, including first-degree intentional homicide. If he gets convicted of the most serious charge, he potentially faces life in prison. On Monday, the judge dropped a misdemeanor weapons possession count and indicated that he would allow the jury to consider lesser charges.