Kyle Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty to all charges

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old Illinois who became a right-wing célèbre case after shooting and killing two protesters and wounding a third amid civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year, was acquitted Friday at all points. The verdict, which found Rittenhouse not guilty of charges of murder and reckless danger that could have put him in jail for life, set a ceiling on a heated trial that put questions of race and vigilante justice in America on the field.

Rittenhouse, then 17, claimed he went from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha in August 2020 to “protect” private property from protesters after the shooting of Jacob Blake, which is black, by white police officer Resting Sheskey. During the controversial trial, Rittenhouse and his defense team argued that he had killed Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum – and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz– in self-defense. But accusations Thomas Binger described the white teenager as a “wannabe soldier” with a semi-automatic weapon who came to Wisconsin “looking for trouble.” “This is the provocation,” Binger said in a closing argument Monday, showing jury footage of Rittenhouse pointing his weapon at protesters. “That’s what starts this incident.”

“You lose the right to self-defense when you are the one who brought the gun, when you are the one who creates the danger, when you are the one who provokes other people,” Binger added.

But the jury ultimately sided with Rittenhouse’s side in the trial, where Judge Bruce Schroeder clashed with prosecutors and seemed at times to join the defense, at one point encouraging jurors to applaud a military veteran who served as an expert witness for Rittenhouse’s legal team. It is unclear how much Schroeder’s conduct during the trial affected the case; for example, his angry confrontation with Binger, who annoyed the judge for trying to introduce video evidence he had already banned, came without jurors present. But several of his decisions, including banning prosecutors from describing those killed by Rittenhouse as “victims,” ​​but allowing the defense to cast them as “looters,” would certainly have set favorable conditions for the Illinois teen. (Schroeder also dismissed a charge of unlawful possession of a weapon from a minor, one of the seven charges Rittenhouse faced before the closing arguments Monday). joke about “Asian food” – served to undermine confidence in his justice and impartiality in what was already a controversial issue.

The judge claimed he wanted to keep political concerns out of the courtroom. “This is not going to be a political trial,” Schroeder said in September, stating that prosecutors could not discuss Rittenhouse’s affiliation with the apparent Proud Boys or show that video prosecutors said he expressed a desire to “start shooting” at people. , he is believed to be shoplifting from a CVS two weeks before he killed Huber and Rosenbaum in Kenosha. But the case was always permeated by politics, as evidenced by the conservatives who took up Rittenhouse’s case.

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