Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Did Rittenhouse need to testify?
During opening statements earlier this month, Kyle Rittenhouse’s defense attorney indicated his client would be testifying about the events that led to his murder trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, court. Rittenhouse did just that on Wednesday morning. Witnesses have taken the stand and provided testimony that has been beneficial to Rittenhouse’s self-defense argument, raising the question of whether Rittenhouse’s own testimony was needed. Defense attorneys would typically encourage their clients to testify in self-defense cases.
Kyle Rittenhouse, the US teen acquitted after fatally shooting two men during protests and riots against police brutality in Wisconsin last year, said self-defense is "not illegal" after being cleared, as the verdict reverberated across America. © POOL Kyle Rittenhouse reacts as he is found not guilty for shooting and killing two men and wounding another during protests and riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2020 © Alex KENT A woman reacts, in anger, to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict outside the courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin
On Friday, a jury found the 18-year-old Rittenhouse not guilty of reckless and intentional homicide and other charges stemming from the August 2020 shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Defense rests its case, jury expected to begin deliberations Monday
Defense attorneys representing Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of fatally shooting two men and wounding a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, rested its case on Thursday in the divisive murder trial, setting the stage for closing arguments early next week. The jury is expected to begin deliberating as early as Monday over Rittenhouse's fate related to the Aug. 25, 2020, shootings during fiery unrest in Kenosha. Rittenhouse’s lawyers wrapped their side of the case during the ninth day of trial – just one day after their client took the stand for hours of testimony.
The ruling sparked sporadic protests across the country late Friday -- from New York to Portland, Oregon -- but also drew praise from Rittenhouse supporters at the courthouse and gun rights advocates, highlighting how divisive the case was.
In comments broadcast by Fox News, the teen -- seen smiling as he rides in a car after the verdict -- said he was relieved that his "rough journey" had come to an end.
"The jury reached the correct verdict -- self-defense is not illegal," Rittenhouse says, ahead of a full interview with Fox to be shown Monday evening and a subsequent documentary scheduled to air in December.
"I'm glad that everything went well... We made it through the hard part."
Rittenhouse's case drew national attention, in part because it arose from the Black Lives Matter demonstrations that swept the country last year and featured a controversial mix of guns, racial tensions and vigilantism.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s former lawyer predicted weapons charge dismissal a year ago in politically charged case
Kyle Rittenhouse’s future went to the 12-person jury Tuesday – in a case whose outcome has local residents bracing for the chance of renewed protests and Americans from coast to coast watching closely.John Pierce, a lawyer who previously represented Rittenhouse but no longer does, said he believes the prosecution has a weak, politically motivated case aimed at making a point rather than serving justice.
© Yuki IWAMURA Demonstrators marched on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York during a protest against the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict
The teen testified during the two-week trial that he shot dead two men and wounded another with his AR-15 semi-automatic rifle in self-defense after being attacked during a night of unrest in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse, who lived in neighboring Illinois, claimed he went to Kenosha to protect businesses from looters and act as a medic.
Prosecutors countered by arguing the then 17-year-old Rittenhouse "provoked" the events on a chaotic night sparked when a white policeman shot a Black man, Jacob Blake, in the back several times during an arrest, leaving him paralyzed. © Alex Kent Kyle Rittenhouse has supporters -- a man holds a "Free Kyle” sign the teen was found not guilty in Kenosha, Wisconsin
But the jury sided with Rittenhouse.
For John Huber, father of one of the men killed in Kenosha, the "shock" had not dissipated when he appeared on CNN Saturday morning.
Tucker Carlson: Actions like these threaten America's judicial system
Tucker Carlson questions whether there has been 'deliberate prosecutorial misconduct' in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.So Rittenhouse's response to that threat was the definition of self-defense. Desperate split-second decisions made in the face of unwanted aggression in an attempt to save his own life. That's what happened. Every person who testified at the trial on both sides confirmed that no honest person doubts it.
"We still can't believe it," Huber said. "He should have got about 40 years in prison. That was our expectation."
"That guy gets to run free and he's now a hero. And this is my son right here. This is Anthony," Huber said, holding up a small urn and a photo of his son. "There's no justice right now for our family and there's no closure."
- Divisive case -
The reaction to the verdict reflected the national divide over the right to bear firearms in America -- and where the line should be drawn on that constitutionally protected right.
President Joe Biden warned against violence following the verdict and appealed for calm.
"While the verdict in Kenosha will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included, we must acknowledge that the jury has spoken," Biden said in a statement.
"I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, consistent with the rule of law."
In an editorial, the Wisconsin State Journal called the verdict "disappointing" and said it was "sure to embolden militant people who seek to take the law into their own hands."
"But further violence in response to the verdict won't help anyone," it added.
Meanwhile, the Gun Owners of America cheered Rittenhouse as a "warrior for gun owners and self defense rights" and said it would be "awarding him" with an AR-15 like the one he used that night in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse -- who had faced five charges in total -- earned praise from some Republican lawmakers and former president Donald Trump.
The most serious charge -- intentional homicide -- carried a mandatory sentence of life in prison. The jury deliberated for a total of 26 hours over four days before delivering a unanimous verdict of not guilty on all counts.
Shannon Watts, founder of gun control group Moms Demand Action, slammed the verdict.
"That a teenager could travel across state lines to a protest he had nothing to do with; shoot three people, killing two; and face no criminal consequences is a miscarriage of justice and an indictment of our criminal justice system," Watts said.
The Legal Eagles Who Stood Between Ahmaud Arbery and Justice .
The three notorious white men caught on video chasing and fatally attacking Ahmaud Arbery last February are now officially convicted murderers. But Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan” are not the only villains in the gruesome case plagued by allegations of initial prosecutorial misconduct before arrests were made 70 days after the 25-year-old Black man’s shooting death in Georgia. The prosecutors who wonBut Gregory McMichael, his son Travis, and their neighbor William “Roddie” Bryan” are not the only villains in the gruesome case plagued by allegations of initial prosecutorial misconduct before arrests were made 70 days after the 25-year-old Black man’s shooting death in Georgia.