Crime EXPLAINER: Prosecutors play up Rittenhouse inexperience
Legal experts see strong self-defense claim for Rittenhouse
When Kyle Rittenhouse goes on trial Monday for shooting three men during street protests in Wisconsin that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake last summer, he'll argue that he fired in self-defense. Legal experts say under Wisconsin law he has a strong case. What's less clear is whether prosecutors will be able to persuade the jury that Rittenhouse created a deadly situation by showing up in Kenosha with an AR-style semiautomatic rifle — and that in doing so he forfeited his claim to self-defense. © Provided by Associated Press Circuit Court Judge Bruce E.
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 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 that he was a certified medic when he was really just a lifeguard.
In Rittenhouse case, Americans see what they want to see
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — From the moment Kyle Rittenhouse shot three people on the streets of Kenosha during protests over the police shooting of a Black man, he’s personified America’s polarization. The 17-year-old from Illinois who carried an AR-style rifle and idolized police was cheered by those who despised the Black Lives Matter movement and the sometimes destructive protests that followed George Floyd’s death. He was championed by pro-gun conservatives who said he was exercising his Second Amendment rights and defending cities from “antifa,” an umbrella term for leftist militants.
Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor and attorney in Chicago who isn’t involved in the case, said Binger is trying to show jurors that Rittenhouse didn't know what he was doing and that they shouldn't believe his self-defense claims.
“In terms of how he reacted, they want to show it in context that he's young and he's not experienced and would be more likely to perceive (the protest) as a more threatening situation (than an older person),” Turner said. “A younger guy is going to think this guy is going to hurt me when really it's not true.”
Rittenhouse brought a semi-automatic rifle to the protest in Kenosha in August 2020. The city on the Wisconsin-Illinois border was in the throes ofafter a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, who was resisting arrest during a domestic dispute. Rittenhouse was 17 years old at the time and said he had gone to Kenosha to protect downtown businesses from looters.
Judge hopes to seat Kyle Rittenhouse jury within a day
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The trial of Kyle Rittenhouse opened Monday with the challenging task of seating jurors who haven't already made up their minds about the young aspiring police officer who shot two people to death and wounded a third during a night of anti-racism protests in Kenosha last year. Rittenhouse was 17 when he made the short trip from his home in Illinois, just across the Wisconsin state line, during unrest that broke out in August 2020 after a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man.Rittenhouse, now 18, faces life in prison if convicted of first-degree homicide, one of several charges against him.
Just before midnight, he shot Joseph Rosenbaum, killing him, after Rosenbaum chased him into a parking lot.shows a crowd chasing Rittenhouse down the street. In a matter of seconds an unidentified man tried to kick him in the head, Anthony Huber hit him in the head with a skateboard and Gaige Grosskreutz charged him with a pistol. Rittenhouse fired at the man who kicked him but missed, shot and killed Huber and wounded Grosskreutz in the arm.
, including homicide and being a minor in possession of a firearm. Rittenhouse has argued that he shot the men in self-defense. That means his attorneys must persuade jurors that he reasonably believed his life was in danger and that the amount of force he used was reasonable. Binger maintains that Rittenhouse was the aggressor and overreacted to the situation.
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.
Ryan Balch, a former U.S. Army soldier who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, testified Thursday that he traveled to Kenosha on the night of the shootings armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a pistol to help protect businesses, and that he met Rittenhouse there.
Balch later told FBI investigators that Rittenhouse seemed very interested in him and his military deployments. He said Rittenhouse told him that he was 19 and a certified emergency medical technician; he was actually a lifeguard at a recreational complex in nearby Pleasant Prairie, which is between Kenosha and Rittenhouse’s hometown of Antioch, Illinois.
“He seemed like a young and impressionable kid,” Balch said. “He seemed a little under-equipped and under-experienced as well, which is one of the reasons we kind of stayed with him.” Balch did not say why he felt Rittenhouse was under-equipped.
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.
Balch said he kept an eye on Rittenhouse throughout the evening, protecting him as Rittenhouse walked around shouting that he was a medic and could help anyone who was injured. Balch recounted one protester insulting Rittenhouse with profanity and Rittenhouse yelling back “I love you, too, ma'am.” Balch said he told him not to respond because it would only antagonize the crowd further.
“That's when I told him, 'hey, don't say that,'” Balch testified. “It can cause somebody to escalate the situation if they feel like you're making fun of them a little bit. So, just wasn't needed.”
Former Marine Jason Lackowski testified Friday that he also traveled to Kenosha armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a knife to protect businesses.
He said Rittenhouse introduced himself and said he was an emergency medical technician. Rittenhouse didn't say how old he was, but Lackowski testified that he thought Rittenhouse was at least 18 because minors can't possess firearms in Wisconsin and he thought a person had to be 18 to get an EMT license.
He went on to testify thattried to start fights with Lackowski's group and asked members of the group to shoot him. He said he didn't consider Rosenbaum a threat to him or anyone else, however.
EXPLAINER: Did state's own witnesses hurt Rittenhouse case?
KENOSHA, Wisconsin (AP) — Prosecutors wrapped up more than a week of testimony at Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial after 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.
Richie McGinniss, a videographer for the conservative website The Daily Caller, testified Thursday that he met Rittenhouse while documenting the protest and asked him how old he was.
“I believe the response was something along the lines of ‘I’m an adult,'” McGinniss said. “I actually told police the night of that I believe that he was in his mid-20s. But I believe I said exactly that he had a baby face.”
Rittenhouse's attorneys pushed back at any suggestion that Rittenhouse overreacted to a non-threat. They noted that Lackowski's encounter with Rosenbaum occurred in a group setting and that he never faced Rosenbaum one-on-one like Rittenhouse did. When defense attorney Corey Chirafisi asked Lackowski if he would feel threatened if Rosenbaum charged him at full speed and tried to take his gun, Lackowski responded, “Yes.”
But Rittenhouse's team left unchallenged the testimony that Rittenhouse had lied about his age and his medical certification and that he appeared inexperienced.
Turner, the Chicago attorney, said the defense may be content to let jurors believe Rittenhouse is basically just a kid.
“If I was defending this case, I would be happy with that because it's true. He's young and inexperienced and that goes to your intent to kill because you perceive a situation as being dangerous,” Turner said. “His youth actually helps him. If it's an older person, then they think ‘this guy knows better.’”
Associated Press reporter Amy Forliti in Minneapolis contributed to this report.
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.