Jury deliberations will begin Tuesday morning in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the Antioch teen accused of killing two men and wounding a third in August 2020 during unrest in Kenosha.
The jury will convene following a day in which members heard hours of closing arguments by the prosecutors and defense as well as the prosecutors’ rebuttal.
Court is scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Tuesday when Judge Bruce Schroeder will reduce the number of jurors from 18 to 12. He’s expected to draw names out of a tumbler in much the same way lottery numbers are chosen.
The six extra jurors will be kept inside the building in case.
Rittenhouse, now 18, was in Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to protect property from the damaging protests that broke out over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.
While Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot, the case has stirred debate over vigilantism, the right to bear arms and the unrest that erupted around the U.S. that summer over the killing of George Floyd and other police violence against Black people.
Wisconsin’s self-defense law allows someone to use deadly force only if “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” The jury must decide whether Rittenhouse believed he was in such peril and whether that belief was reasonable under the circumstances.
LIVE COVERAGE: A live feed of Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial is available when court is in session.
Here are the latest updates as the case unfolds before the jury. (This will be updated as court resumes Monday)
— Judge released jury for the day at approximately 5:56 p.m. and announced deliberations will begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
— Prosecution began rebuttal to defense closing arguments at approximately 4:53 p.m.
— Mark Richards started his closing arguments by attacking the men Kyle Rittenhouse killed. “This case is not a game,” Richards told the jury. “It is my client’s life.”
“We don’t play fast and loose,” he said, “pretending Mr. Rosenbaum was citizen A number one guy…he was a bad man…he was there…he was causing trouble…he was a rioter and my client had to deal with him that night alone.”
— Mark Richards compared the shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum to that of Jacob Blake, the Black man whose shooting by a white police officer sparked the Kenosha unrest.
“Other people in this community have shot people seven times,” he said, “and it’s been found to be OK… My client did it four times to protect his life from Mr. Rosenbaum.”
“I’m sorry, that’s what happened,” he said.
— “There is no doubt the defendant committed these crimes,” Prosecutor Thomas Binger told the jury as he wrapped up his closing arguments.
“No reasonable person would have done what the defendant did and that makes your decision easy,” he said. “He is guilty of all counts.”
After a 20 minute break, the defense will begin its closings. When they conclude, prosecutors will get a half hour to rebut the points brought up during that closing. As it is the prosecution’s burden to prove Rittenhouse guilty, they get the last word.
— Prosecutor Binger quickly gets to the heart of his argument.
“When the defendant provokes the incident, he loses the right to self defense,” he tells the jury. “You cannot claim self defense over a danger you create.”
— Prosecutor Thomas Binger has begun his closing arguments in the case against Kyle Rittenhouse.
“I think we can all agree, we shouldn’t have 17-year-olds running around with AR-15s, because this is what happens,” he tells the jury.
— Judge halts the reading of jury instructions for a conference on the lesser charges. He wants them not to consider the lesser charges if they agree, guilty or not guilty, on the more significant charge. Prosecutions says that’s not the law.
— In the instructions regarding the homicide charge against Rittenhouse, the judge cautions the jury: “you should make every reasonable effort to unanimously agree on the charge of first degree intentional homicide before moving on to the second.”
— Jury instructions begin. This will take about 45 minutes. They are hearing first about the law regarding self defense.
— The judge at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial has dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
The charge is only a misdemeanor, but it had appeared to be among the likeliest to net a conviction for prosecutors. There’s no dispute that Rittenhouse was 17 when he carried an AR-style semi-automatic rifle on the streets of Kenosha in August 2020 and used it to kill two men and wound a third.
But the defense argued that Wisconsin’s statute had an exception that could be read to clear Rittenhouse. That exception involves whether or not a rifle or shotgun is short-barreled.
After prosecutors conceded in court Monday that Rittenhouse’s rifle was not short-barreled, Judge Schroeder dismissed the charge.
— Closing arguments in the case are expected to take up to four to five hours.
Judge Schroeder will then reduce the number of jurors from 18 to 12 by drawing names out of a tumbler in much the same way lottery numbers are chosen.
— Judge Schroeder has already denied some of the lesser charge requests but said he will notify the attorneys of his final decisions by email on Saturday.
— The arguments over what would be in the jury instructions were contentious at times, with attorneys rehashing debates they had earlier in the trial or in pretrial hearings.
At one point, as the two sides debated about what a particular photo showed, Judge Schroeder lost his temper, snapping: “You’re asking me to give an instruction. I want to see the best picture!”
— The process of hammering out jury instructions has begun. The prosecution will be asking for less included charges on all the counts still pending.
The judge says he will decide on Saturday.
— Prosecutors asked for adding lesser counts of second-degree attempted intentional homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree reckless endangerment. Rittenhouse’s attorney did not object to the second-degree attempted homicide count, but he did object to adding the reckless endangerment counts, saying he doesn’t believe someone can “attempt to be reckless.”
Schroeder said he would mull it over but was inclined to agree with prosecutors.
— Closing arguments are expected on Monday. After closing arguments, names will be drawn to decide which 12 jurors will deliberate and which ones will be dismissed as alternates. Eighteen people have been hearing the case. The panel appeared overwhelmingly white.
–Judge Schroeder agrees to Monday for closing arguments and requires time limits of two and a half hours for each side. “The brain cannot absorb what the seat cannot endure,” he said.