Crime EXPLAINER: Does Kyle Rittenhouse need to testify?
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.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Defense attorneys typically encourage their clients to testify in self-defense cases. But Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial is anything but typical and it's still unclear whether the Illinois man will take the stand to explain to jurors what he was thinking when he shot three people during a protest in Wisconsin last year.
Rittenhouse's attorney, Mark Richards, told the jury during opening statements last week that they would hear from Rittenhouse himself about how protesters were carrying rocks. But the witnesses that prosecutors have called to the stand since then have frequently made Rittenhouse's case for him, testifying that the men he shot were the aggressors and that Rittenhouse told people in the immediate aftermath he had no choice but to pull the trigger.
The Risky Move That Could Save Kyle Rittenhouse—or Doom Him
Kyle Rittenhouse’s highly anticipated and politically polarizing murder trial began on Monday. And perhaps the biggest question looming over the proceedings—which will inevitably feature caricatures of unhinged racial-justice activists and harrowing stories of loved ones lost to a rogue gunman—is what the teenager himself might say to jurors deciding his fate. Rittenhouse, 18, is accused of murdering two people and injuring a third on Aug. 25, 2020, amid unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Putting Rittenhouse on the stand now could risk hurting more than helping his case, legal experts say.
“(The state's witnesses) enabled the defense to tell their story of self-defense more through cross-examination . . . and that may be enough to get the reasonable doubt or self-defense verdict,” said Loyola Marymount University law professor Laurie Levenson. “I think that many lawyers would say that Rittenhouse could cause more problems for himself than advantages by taking the stand at this point.”
Rittenhouse brought a semi-automatic rifle to a protest against police brutality in downtown Kenosha in August 2020. The city was in the throes of several nights of chaotic demonstrations that began after a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, while responding to a domestic disturbance.
Rittenhouse trial: Someone else fired into the air first
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Two and a half seconds before Kyle Rittenhouse began shooting in the streets of Kenosha, someone in the crowd fired a shot into the air, a detective testified at Rittenhouse's murder trial Thursday. The defense has said that that shot made Rittenhouse think he was under attack. Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with shooting three men, two of them fatally, starting with Joseph Rosenbaum, in the summer of 2020. The aspiring police officer, then 17, had gone to Kenosha with a rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to safeguard property from damaging riots that broke out over the police shooting of a Black man.
Rittenhouse ended up shooting and killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm. Prosecutors have charged him with multiple counts, including first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Rittenhouse has argued he.
To win an acquittal on self-defense grounds, defendants must show that they reasonably believed their lives were in danger and that they used the appropriate amount of force. Kenosha-based defense attorney Michael Cicchini, who is not involved in Rittenhouse's case, said he always puts clients who argue self-defense on the stand to explain their mindset.
“That's your primary and best source for what the defendant was seeing, thinking and feeling at the time,” Cicchini said. “(The testimony) is from the standpoint of the defendant at that time and place and (within those) circumstances. I've never had a self-defense case where a defendant hasn't testified.”
EXPLAINER: Rittenhouse attorneys spar over victim depictions
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Attorneys spent the first week of Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial sparring over who provoked whom, with prosecutors portraying the Illinois teenager as the aggressor and the defense working to show that the men he shot had threatened him. The stakes are enormous as jurors weigh whether Rittenhouse fired in self-defense because he legitimately felt threatened or whether he overreacted. “To establish self-defense, the first prong is the defense must show there was going to be interference with Rittenhouse and that Rittenhouse had a belief that could result in great bodily harm,” said former Milwaukee County prosecutor Daniel Adams, who isn't inv
But Rittenhouse has the momentum with the trial nearly over and may not need to take the stand, other experts said.
Some witnesses called by prosecutors have testified that Rosenbaum threatened to kill Rittenhouse and; that Huber rushed up to him and hit him with a skateboard; and that while Rittenhouse was sitting in the street.
much of those accounts. Other witnesses have testified that Rittenhouse told them in the immediate aftermath of the shootings that he “had to" pull the trigger.
Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor turned defense attorney in Chicago, said if Rittenhouse was his client he would not put him on the stand.
“There's a possibility (he testifies) but I think it's not great that he will,” Turner said. “He doesn't need to. I think his defense is already there with all the people who where shot or threatened or whatever that they were the aggressors. (Rittenhouse) can't add anything to it and the only thing he can do is hurt himself somehow. The prosecution has the burden of proof and in this case, from the sounds of it, they haven't even come close.”
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.
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Find AP’s full coverage on the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse at: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty of All Charges in Fatal Shooting of 2 Men At Black Lives Matter Protest .
Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, was accused of homicide for using an AR-style rifle to kill two people during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisc., last yearJurors embraced the claim that Kyle Rittenhouse was defending himself when he fatally shot two men and injured a third last year, clearing him of homicide Friday along with all related charges that included recklessly brandishing a dangerous weapon during a Black Lives Matter protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisc.