The jurors who acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on the five charges against him – ranging from premeditated murder to ruthless killing to ruthless danger – have not yet spoken publicly.
When they do, they will likely be asked: Where did they find reasonable doubt?
But that’s the wrong question, civil rights lawyer Jamie White told U.S. TODAY after the Illinois teenager was found not guilty in a polarizing case on Friday which further divided America along political and racial lines more than a year after he shot three men, two fatally, during a night of protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
“They did not have to come with reasonable doubt,” said White, a Michigan-based criminal defense attorney who has represented dozens of victims of sexual abuse in high-profile cases involving Boy Scouts of America and Larry Nassar, the disgraced former doctor for it. American women’s gymnastics team. . “They never got there. It was about whether he (Rittenhouse) behaved reasonably at the time of the shootings?
“The reasonable doubt was self-defense,” claimed Lara Yeretsian, a veteran Los Angeles-based criminal defense attorney.
“If you made them believe in self-defense, if you made them believe that all he did was defend his life, and his life was in danger, that if he did not want to shoot those men, he would be dead yourself, that’s it, ”said Yeretsian, who has worked on high-profile cases, including the defense of Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson.
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“As far as his testimony is concerned, the juries clearly found him credible, and that in itself is enormous,” she added. “If you believe in him when he says self-defense, then you have to acquit him.”
Other legal experts also expressed little surprise with the verdict
“I think anyone who saw the evidence could see that the jury may have a hard time coming to a unanimous decision that Kyle Rittenhouse did not defend himself,” said Julius Kim, a Wisconsin defense attorney and former prosecutor. told NPR.
“They did not decide here – who do they believe in the most? They decided on a very specific legal question: Do they think the prosecution proved beyond any reasonable doubt that it was not self-defense,” ABC chief legal analyst Dan Abrams said on World News Tonight, adding that he believed that videos of the recordings had a particular impact on the jury.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger did not help the state’s case, legal experts told U.S. TODAY.
While White said he was “not at all impressed by the prosecutor,” although he also acknowledged that he did not have access to all the evidence, he agreed with Binger’s argument to the jury that “when you talk about self-defense, it should be proportionate. – and using a semi-automatic rifle on someone who kicks you or hits you with a skateboard is not proportionate. “
“If anything were to turn the table, I thought it would be the argument that one cannot bring a gun to a fist fight,” White said. “But in this case, the jury decided that one could.”
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Binger’s inability to influence the jury in terms of proportionate use of force was a defining moment in a lawsuit that began with him already facing “an uphill battle,” Yeretsian told U.S. TODAY.
“Even the prosecution’s witnesses, they supported the defense’s argument – when one survivor testified that he aimed his gun at Rittenhouse, and that was when Rittenhouse shot him, it gives the jury enough,” she said.
Putting Rittenhouse on the stand, Yeretsian said, was “risky, but the right move, especially in a lawsuit where the entire nation watched it.” Rittenhouse’s emotional testimony – he cried at one point – worked in his favor, she said.
“He has this baby face, he shed some tears that could pull in some heartstrings – defense lawyers are counting on those things,” Yeretsian said. “But apart from the few moments of crying and emotional feeling, he was pretty calm and able to explain his side. He seemed believable.”
She added: “(The jury) bought the self-defense argument, and that’s really the bottom line.”