Crime EXPLAINER: Did state's own witnesses hurt Rittenhouse case?
Kyle Rittenhouse trial starts Monday in Kenosha, Wisconsin: What to know about the case
Kyle Rittenhouse goes on trial Monday in the shooting of three people during a protest against police brutality after the shooting of Jacob Blake.Since then, the case and its characters have provided a constant stream of intrigue, outrage and propaganda, in both mainstream and niche conservative media outlets where he has occasionally been portrayed as a patriot and symbol of gun rights as well as a self-defense hero and boy-next-door.
KENOSHA, Wisconsin (AP) — Prosecutors wrapped up more than a week of testimonyafter calling more than a dozen witnesses — some appearing to help the defense more than the prosecution.
The onus was on prosecutors to counter Rittenhouse’s self-defense claim in shooting dead two protesters and wounding a third at a protest in Kenosha last year following the shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black, by a white police officer. The defense team began their case on Tuesday.
Witness: Rittenhouse said people 'were trying to hurt him'
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse was “freaking out” and “really scared” moments after shooting three men during street protests against racial injustice, and said he had to do it because “people were trying to hurt him," a friend testified at Rittenhouse's murder trial. Dominick Black, who faces his own trial for buying the 17-year-old Rittenhouse an AR-15-style rifle he wasn't old enough to legally possess, said Tuesday he was stunned when Rittenhouse called him seconds after the first shooting.
Rittenhouse, then 17, fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum at a car lot. After running from that scene, he shot and killed Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.
A look at the state's presentation to jurors:
HOW DO LEGAL EXPERTS THINK IT WENT?
Legal experts agreed prosecutors had the bigger challenge going in, and some said they didn't come close to offering the kind of testimony sure to persuade jurors.
Judge in Kyle Rittenhouse trial boots juror for 'joke' about police shooting of Jacob Blake
When the judge brought the juror to the courtroom, the man would not repeat the joke but said he didn’t think it had “anything to do with” the trial.A Kenosha police officer shot Blake seven times in August 2020, which left him paralyzed. The shooting was captured on video that sparked protests and led to the deaths of the two men, whom Rittenhouse is charged with killing. Rittenhouse also wounded a third person during those protests last year.
“The case has gone very badly for the prosecution,” said Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor who has followed the trial through the media.
Prosecutors endeavored to show Rittenhouse’s fears for his life on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, weren’t justified. But successive state witnesses, Turner and other legal experts said, seemed to buttress the defense assertion that Rittenhouse had good reason to be afraid.
EXPLAINER: Prosecutors play up Rittenhouse inexperience
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors trying to convict Kyle Rittenhouse of murder have been working to paint him as an inexperienced teenager who misrepresented his age and medical training to other armed civilians in his group on the night he shot three men during a protest against police brutality in Wisconsin last year. Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger has drawn out testimony during the first week of Rittenhouse's trial from severalAssistant District Attorney Thomas Binger has drawn out testimony during the first week of Rittenhouse's trial from several witnesses, including two military veterans, saying the Illinois teen appeared inexperienced, that he falsely claimed that he was old enough to possess a gun and tha
But not everyone believes the state's presentation went that badly.
Joe Lopez, a Chicago-based defense attorney, singled out witnesses who said Rosenbaum acted oddly but didn’t pose a threat as testimony helpful to the state.
“The prosecution has called witnesses that hurt their case — but sometimes you take the good with the bad,” Lopez said.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES OF STATE WITNESSES SEEMING TO AID THE DEFENSE?
Ryan Balch is a military veteran who carried an AR-style rifle that night and patrolled with Rittenhouse. He told jurors how
“If I catch any of you guys alone tonight I’m going to f—- kill you!” He recalled Rosenbaum shouting.
Another witness, videographer Richie McGinniss, described Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse and lunging for Rittenhouse’s gun. When prosecutor Thomas Binger pressed McGinniss to concede he didn't know what Rosenbaum's intent was, McGinniss had a pointed — and damaging — answer.
“Well,” McGinniss promptly replied, “he said, `F—- you.′ And then he reached for the weapon.”
EXPLAINER: Could jury weigh lesser charges for Rittenhouse?
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors in Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial could ask the jury to consider lesser charges when it gets the case, a move that could secure a conviction for some crime but take a possible life sentence off the table. Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger has struggled to counter Rittenhouse's self-defense arguments during the Illinois man's trial, raising questions about whether his office overcharged Rittenhouse. Daniel Adams, a former Milwaukee County assistant district attorney who isn't involved in the trial, described Binger's case as “incredibly underwhelming.”“He's got nothing,” Adams said.
Gal Pissetzky, another Chicago-based defense attorney, said that was vital testimony — for the defense.
“If (lunging for the gun) is not a threatening action that would put Rittenhouse in fear for his life, I am not sure what would be," he said.
McGinniss also described Rittenhouse as appearing to do all he could to flee and even shouting “friendly, friendly, friendly” at Rosenbaum to convey he meant no harm.
Grosskreutz is another state witness who may have helped the defense case as much as the prosecution's. He testified that he carried a loaded pistol that night and— although Grosskreutz maintained he didn't intentionally aim the gun and said he wouldn't have fired.
WERE THERE NOTABLE MISSTEPS BY PROSECUTORS?
Prosecutors made at least one unforced error that allowed evidence favorable to the defense that otherwise would have been barred.
It happened with Rosenbaum’s fiancée, Kariann Swart, on the stand when a prosecutor asked her if Rosenbaum had taken medication earlier on the day he was shot.
By asking that question, the judge ruled prosecutors opened the door for the defense to ask Swart what the medication was for. Under cross-examination, she told jurors it was for bipolar disorder and depression.
The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Story Explained
The case surrounding the 18-year-old has sparked frequent debate since the shootings took place in Kenosha in August 2020.After two weeks of testimony, the defense and prosecution will outline their arguments surrounding the 18-year-old for the final time to the jury at Kenosha County Circuit court.
In self-defense cases, the mental health history of an alleged aggressor isn’t considered relevant unless the person who used deadly force was aware of it. Rittenhouse wasn't.
But getting Rosenbaum’s mental health in front of jurors could add credibility to the idea that Rosenbaum was an unstable aggressor.
WHAT TESTIMONY HELPED PROSECUTORS?
Some testimony depicted Rittenhouse as reckless for attending such a volatile protest with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle, suggesting that was the primary cause of the tragic series of events.
who came armed to the protest but never fired a shot.
Prosecutors also sought to play down Rosenbaum as a threat.
Jason Lackowski, another armed veteran in Rittenhouse's group, told jurors
WHAT ELSE MAY HAVE HELPED THEIR CASE?
Prosecutors had some success in raising doubts about a key defense assertion that Rittenhouse feared his alleged attackers would wrest his rifle away and use it to shoot him.
State witness Dominick Black, a friend of Rittenhouse’s who similarly showed up with a weapon, told jurors he bought the rifle for Rittenhouse months before the shootings because Rittenhouse wasn’t old enough to own one at the time.
He testified that a gun sling Rittenhouse wore around his neck and shoulder area included a strap that anchored the gun to Rittenhouse’s body. He said that strap would have made it difficult for anyone to pry the gun away — undermining the defense claim that Rittenhouse feared losing control of his weapon.
WHAT'S THE BOTTOM LINE?
Trying to guess how jurors are perceiving evidence is hazardous in any case, perhaps more so in one as novel and politically charged as Rittenhouse's.
The significance of evidence presented by prosecutors is often not evident until closing arguments — the first opportunity for prosecutors to connect all the dots for jurors.
Things we've learned from Kyle Rittenhouse's trial that challenged challenge assumptions that emerged over the last 15 months. .
Kyle Rittenhouse's homicide trial in Wisconsin has been highlighted by the emotional testimony of the 18-year-old man whose actions as a minor have become emblematic of a divided America. © Sean Krajacic/Pool/Getty Images KENOSHA, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 17: Kyle Rittenhouse listens as attorneys discuss the potential for a mistrial during Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 17, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin.