The jury in Kenosha begins deliberations: NPR

Kyle Rittenhouse faces five crimes for shooting three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the night of August 25, 2020.

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Kyle Rittenhouse faces five crimes for shooting three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the night of August 25, 2020.

Pool / Getty Images

Twelve jurors have begun deliberations in the criminal case against Kyle Rittenhouse, who fatally shot two protesters and wounded a third during the riots last year in Kenosha, Wis.

Juries counseled for about eight hours Tuesday without reaching a verdict. They will resume discussions on Wednesday at 9 CT.

Over the course of nearly five hours of concluding arguments on Monday, prosecutors and defense attorneys delivered their final pitch to the panel, alternately describing Rittenhouse as a ruthless “chaos tourist” looking for trouble, versus a responsible young man brutally attacked by lawless troublemakers.

Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he traveled to Kenosha on the evening of August 25, 2020. The city had been besieged by protests after police officers shot Jacob Blake, who is black. Blake was paralyzed from the waist down.

Rittenhouse armed himself with an AR-15-like rifle for the purpose, he testified, to protect private property and act as a doctor.

Late that night, in just about three minutes, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and then ran away toward a police line. While running, he was chased by several other men, including Anthony Huber, 26, who hit him with a skateboard. Rittenhouse shot and killed Huber and shot and then wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, then 26, who was holding a gun.

In his concluding argument, Mark Richards, a defense attorney representing Rittenhouse, said Kenosha was “hell” the night the shootings took place. He described the men who were shot by Rittenhouse as lawless, dangerous “troublemakers” who – if Rittenhouse had not shot them – would have killed him.

“Kyle shot Joseph Rosenbaum to stop a threat to his person. And I’m glad he shot him,” Richards said. “Because if Joseph Rosenbaum had gotten that gun, I do not believe for a moment that he would not have used it against someone else.”

Richards also used harsh words to criticize the opposite side and accused Chief Prosecutor Thomas Binger of lying to the jury. He said the charges – filed two days after the August 2020 shooting – represented a “rush to justice” with political motives.

Prosecutors, for their part, said Rittenhouse made a series of reckless decisions that night – even getting to Kenosha, bringing an AR-15, choosing to stay after curfew – and described him as a dangerous vigilant who chose to take law enforcement into his own hands.

“If people did bad things that night, they could have been prosecuted. It’s not up to Mr. Rittenhouse to be the judge, the jury, and ultimately the executioner,” said Assistant District Attorney James Kraus.

When he was first there, prosecutors said, Rittenhouse provoked the rallies – first by pointing his rifle at protesters and starting the hunt with Rosenbaum.

At the time, prosecutors said, Rittenhouse was an “active shooter,” and those who chased him – including Huber and Grosskreutz – were simply trying to prevent him from shooting others.

“These are people who were provoked because they saw an attack or heard shots or heard him attack and they took action,” Kraus said.

Although he himself would not have chosen to persecute Rittenhouse, he added, “that they did, is brave, and they did not deserve to be killed.”

Rittenhouse faces five charges, all crimes: first-degree ruthless murder for Rosenbaum; two cases of ruthless danger of firing his gun near others; first-degree premeditated murder for killing Huber and first-degree attempted premeditated murder to shoot Grosskreutz.

The jury must decide whether Rittenhouse acted seriously in self-defense, and whether the shootings of Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz were each necessary to prevent “imminent death or great harm to himself”.

Juries may also consider less serious versions of the counts related to Huber and Grosskreutz.

Whether they choose to judge, and what judgment they choose, may come down to whether they believe Rittenhouse’s fears were “reasonable,” or whether he exhibited a “complete disregard for human life” that night.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty on all counts. Rittenhouse faces up to life in prison if convicted on the most serious charges.

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