Kyle Rittenhouse


 

Background Context

On August 25, 2020, Kenosha’s streets were filled with crowds protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake who was shot seven times in the back and side by a Kenosha police officer who said he was trying to detain him. On August 25, 2020, a teenager who walked among protesters in Kenosha, WI, carrying a military-style semi-automatic rifle was arrested and faced charges in connection with shootings that left two people dead and one injured. This teenager, a 17-year old Illinois resident, is Kyle Rittenhouse. On November 19, 2021, by a jury in Kenosha, Wisconsin Kyle was acquitted on all charges.


Verdict

The 12 jurors found him not guilty for the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, now 27. Defense lawyers said Rittenhouse, then 17, was acting in self-defense. Not to mention, the jury also found Rittenhouse, now 18, not guilty of two felony charges of recklessly endangering safety. The charges, or counts, he faced, and proven not guilty of, are: First-Degree Intentional Homicide, Attempted First-Degree Intentional Homicide, First-Degree Reckless Homicide, First-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, etc.


Protesters gathered outside the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y., to voice their opposition to the jury’s decision to acquit Kyle Rittenhouse on all accounts. Stephanie Keith for The New York Times.
 

Counts

Count 1: First-Degree Reckless Homicide, Use of a Dangerous Weapon

This felony charge is connected to the death of Joseph Rosenbaum. The first man fallen victim to Rittenhouse. Bystander video shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse through a parking lot and throwing a plastic bag at him. Rittenhouse flees behind a car and Rosenbaum follows. Video introduced at trial showed Rittenhouse wheeling around and firing as Rosenbaum chased him. Richie McGinniss, a reporter who was trailing Rittenhouse, testified that Rosenbaum lunged for Rittenhouse’s gun. The prosecutors alleged that Rittenhouse caused Rosenbaum’s death in circumstances showing an utter disregard for human life. This charge was punishable by up to, approximately, 60 years in prison. However, with Rittenhouse wielding a firearm, up to five more years would be added to the punishment. Therefore, for Rittenhouse, this charge was punishable by up to 65 years in prison.


Count 2: First-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Use of a Dangerous Weapon

This felony charge is connected to the shooting, or death, of Rosenbaum. McGinniss told investigators he was in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. This charge was punishable by up to, approximately, 12.5 years in prison. However, with Rittenhouse wielding a firearm, up to five more years would be added to the punishment. Therefore, for Rittenhouse, this charge was punishable by up to 17.5 years in prison.


Count 3: First-Degree Recklessly Endangering Safety, Use of a Dangerous Weapon

Video shows an unknown man leaping at Rittenhouse and trying to kick him seconds before Anthony Huber moves his skateboard toward him. Rittenhouse appears to fire two rounds at the man but apparently misses as the man runs away. This charge was punishable by up to, approximately, 12.5 years in prison. Again, with Rittenhouse wielding a firearm, up to five more years would be added to the punishment. Therefore, for Rittenhouse, this charge was punishable by up to 17.5 years in prison.


Police officers clash with protesters outside the Kenosha County Courthouse on Aug. 25, 2020, two days after a police shooting that set off the unrest. David Goldman/Associated Press.

Count 4: First-Degree Intentional Homicide, Use of a Dangerous Weapon

This charge was in Huber’s death. Video shows Rittenhouse running down the street after shooting Rosenbaum when he falls to the street. Huber leaps at him and swings a skateboard at his head and neck and tries to grab Rittenhouse’s gun before Rittenhouse fires. The criminal complaint alleged Rittenhouse aimed the weapon at Huber. Conviction would have meant a mandatory life sentence. Again, with Rittenhouse wielding a firearm, up to five more years would be added to the punishment. The jury also was given the option of second-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide in Huber’s death. Second-degree intentional homicide would have been punishable by up to 60 years in prison.


Count 5: Attempted First-Degree Intentional Homicide, Use of a Dangerous Weapon

This was the charge for wounding Gaige Grosskreutz. Video shows Rittenhouse pointing his gun at Grosskreutz and firing a single round. This charge carried a maximum sentence by up to 60 years in prison. Again, with Rittenhouse wielding a firearm, up to five more years would be added to the punishment. Therefore, for Rittenhouse, this charge was punishable by up to 70 years in prison. The jury also was given the option of considering second-degree attempted intentional homicide and first-degree reckless endangerment charges. The possible punishment for attempted second-degree intentional homicide is 30 years. Half of the maximum sentence of second-degree intentional homicide. Attempted first-degree reckless endangerment is punishable by up to 12.5 years.


Count 6: Possession of a Dangerous Weapon by a Person Under 18

On November 15, 2021, the judge dismissed this charge. As stated before, at the night of the shootings, Rittenhouse was 17 years old. Not to mention, at the time, he was wielding a firearm. → Wisconsin law prohibits minors from possessing firearms except for hunting or when supervised by an adult in target practice or instruction in the proper use of a dangerous weapon.

Arguments

Rittenhouse’s attorneys argued that another subsection of the law, regarding short-barreled rifles, provided grounds for dismissing the charge. Prosecutors argued the defense was misreading the statute, and Schroeder had earlier twice declined to dismiss the charge. But the judge also had said the statute was confusing. After prosecutors conceded that the rifle was not short-barreled, Schroeder dismissed the charge.


Count 7: Failure to Comply with an Emergency Order from State or Local Government

Rittenhouse was charged with being out on the streets after an 8 p.m. curfew imposed by the city, a minor offense that carries a fine of up to $200. The judge dismissed this charge during the trial, saying the prosecution didn’t offer enough evidence to prove it.



Jurors appeared to be swayed by Kyle Rittenhouse’s claim that he had acted in self-defense when he shot three men, killing two. Pool photo by Sean Krajacic.

 

Works Cited:


  1. Bosman, Julie. “Here's What You Need to Know about the Rittenhouse Case, in a Nutshell.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 19 Nov. 2021, https://www.nytimes.com/live/2021/11/19/us/kyle-rittenhouse-trial/rittenhouse-trial-explained.

  2. Maxouris, Christina. “Kyle Rittenhouse Was Acquitted on All Charges. Here's What We Know about the 3 Men He Shot.” CNN, Cable News Network, 19 Nov. 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/11/01/us/kyle-rittenhouse-shooting-victims-trial/index.html.

  3. Richmond, Todd. “Explainer: What Charges Did Kyle Rittenhouse Face?” AP NEWS, Associated Press, 19 Nov. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/kyle-rittenhouse-trial-kenosha-3febaa501c57a6b54e168353fe0b2a26.

  4. Willis, Haley, et al. “Tracking the Suspect in the Fatal Kenosha Shootings.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 27 Aug. 2020, https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/27/us/kyle-rittenhouse-kenosha-shooting-video.html.






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