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Crime: Why Was Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty of 2 Fatal Shootings During 2020 Black Lives Matter Protest?

EXPLAINER: Does Kyle Rittenhouse need to testify?

  EXPLAINER: Does Kyle Rittenhouse need to testify? MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Defense attorneys typically encourage their clients to testify in self-defense cases. But Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial is anything but typical and it's still unclear whether the Illinois man will take the stand to explain to jurors what he was thinking when he shot three people during a protest in Wisconsin last year. Rittenhouse's attorney, Mark Richards, told the jury during opening statements last week that they would hear from Rittenhouse himself about how protesters were carrying rocks.

Sean Krajacic - Pool/Getty Kyle Rittenhouse in court in Kenosha, Wisc., Nov. 19, 2021 © Provided by People Sean Krajacic - Pool/Getty Kyle Rittenhouse in court in Kenosha, Wisc., Nov. 19, 2021

Legal observers are weighing in on a jury's decision to clear Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges Friday stemming from his fatal shooting of two men, and wounding of a third, with an assault-style rifle during protests in Kenosha, Wisc., last year over the police shooting of a Black man.

Kyle Rittenhouse in court in Kenosha, Wisc., Nov. 19, 2021 © Sean Krajacic - Pool/Getty Kyle Rittenhouse in court in Kenosha, Wisc., Nov. 19, 2021

"I think the prosecution has done very little right, and a lot of wrong," Matthew Barhoma, a criminal appeals and litigation attorney who was not involved in the case, told PEOPLE as the 12-member jury deliberated its verdicts over four days.

EXPLAINER: Did Rittenhouse lawyers do enough to prevail?

  EXPLAINER: Did Rittenhouse lawyers do enough to prevail? KENOSHA, Wisconsin (AP) — When Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand to testify about his actions the night he shot three men on the streets of Kenosha — sobbing and seemingly unable to continue as he approached the critical moment where he shot the first man — it was one of the most compelling moments in his two-week murder trial. It might have been the most effective part of his three-day defense, too, potentially swaying any jurors inclined toward sympathy for the 18-year-old who has claimed self-defense in the shootings that left two of the men dead.

Rittenhouse, now 18, killed Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, then 26, with an AR-style assault rifle that he carried from his home in Illinois across the state line to enter Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, during unrest that followed the police shooting there of Jacob Blake.

RELATED: Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty of All Charges in Fatal Shooting of 2 Men at Black Lives Matter Protest

In accusing Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the killings, prosecutors alleged he answered a citizen militia's call on social media to protect Kenosha businesses from protesters. The moment capped a summer of Black Lives Matter marches and protests across the country, some of them turned violent, that had been sparked by a police officer's murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Jury to begin deliberations at Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial

  Jury to begin deliberations at Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Jurors will begin deliberations Tuesday at Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial after two weeks of testimony in which prosecutors and defense attorneys painted starkly different pictures of his actions the night he shot three men on the streets of Kenosha. Prosecutors claimed in closing arguments Monday that Rittenhouse was a “wannabe soldier” who provoked bloodshed by bringing a semi-automatic rifle to a protest and menacing others, then walking off like a “hero in a Western” after killing two men and wounding a third. © Provided by Associated Press A lone protester stands outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, late Monday, Nov.

The shootings by Rittenhouse quickly inflamed the debate about vigilantism and attracted pro-gun activists and allies to his side, including then-President Donald Trump, who chose not to denounce his actions. Politicians and activists on both the left and the right have invoked the Rittenhouse case in appeals to energize supporters, with Congressional Republicans celebrating the outcome and Democrats lamenting it, reports The Washington Post.

Rittenhouse was found not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide in Rosenbaum's death; not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide in Huber's death; and not guilty of attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the non-fatal shooting of Grosskreutz. The remaining two charges dismissed by jurors were both for first-degree recklessly endangering the safety of another through use of a dangerous weapon, involving two other men who were not shot.

Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Jury still deliberating verdict as judge considers mistrial over drone video

  Kyle Rittenhouse trial: Jury still deliberating verdict as judge considers mistrial over drone video Jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial were to deliberate for a third day while the judge considers a request from the defense for a mistrial. Your browser does not support this video A key piece of evidence in the prosecution's case — a drone video that shows Rittenhouse fatally shooting the first man he fired at on the night of Aug. 25, 2020 — was called into question Wednesday when Rittenhouse's defense lawyers said they received a lower quality version of the clip.

Facebook; GoFundMe Joseph Rosenbaum, at left, and Anthony Huber © Provided by People Facebook; GoFundMe Joseph Rosenbaum, at left, and Anthony Huber

Rittenhouse said on the stand near the end of his two-week trial that he acted in self-defense during his street encounters with the victims. Prior to the shootings, he told a local reporter on the scene that he was a "trained medic" there only to offer first aid and help put out fires, despite the weapon slung over his shoulder.

Civil rights attorney V. James DeSimone, who also was not involved in the case, says the self-defense argument was dubious to him.

"By bringing an AR-15 in such a volatile situation, and at times pointing the weapon at individuals when there was no direct threat, it really was Kyle Rittenhouse who was provoking the violent encounters," he tells PEOPLE. "Once Kyle Rittenhouse provokes those violent encounters, then he loses the claims of self-defense. And that [was] the prosecution's argument."

"Once you have a weapon with that capability, you have an obligation to use it, or not use it, in a responsible manner," he says. "You can't just claim, 'Oh, I didn't know the gun would shoot so fast.' The first shot to Joseph Rosenbaum fractures his pelvis. He goes to the ground. He is helpless. At that point, there is no reason whatsoever for Kyle Rittenhouse to squeeze the trigger and shoot three more bullets into him."

Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty of All Charges in Fatal Shooting of 2 Men At Black Lives Matter Protest

  Kyle Rittenhouse Found Not Guilty of All Charges in Fatal Shooting of 2 Men At Black Lives Matter Protest Kyle Rittenhouse, then 17, was accused of homicide for using an AR-style rifle to kill two people during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisc., last yearJurors embraced the claim that Kyle Rittenhouse was defending himself when he fatally shot two men and injured a third last year, clearing him of homicide Friday along with all related charges that included recklessly brandishing a dangerous weapon during a Black Lives Matter protest over police brutality in Kenosha, Wisc.

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Still, defense attorney Mark Richards maintained in his closing argument that "Kyle was a 17-year-old kid out there trying to help this community," according to NBC News. In the death of Rosenbaum, whom Richards portrayed as belligerent to Rittenhouse — Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum chased and threatened to kill him — Richards said: "He was causing trouble, he was a rioter, and my client had to deal with him that night alone."

Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisc., courtroom on Nov. 10, 2021 © Provided by People Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Kyle Rittenhouse in Kenosha, Wisc., courtroom on Nov. 10, 2021

Rittenhouse's composure broke in court when he described the second of two encounters with Rosenbaum moments before he shot him.

"A gunshot is fired from behind me, directly behind me," Rittenhouse said. "And I take a few steps, and that's when I turn around. And as I'm turning around, Mr. Rosenbaum is ... coming at me with his arms out in front of him. I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun."

After a second man, Huber, then struck Rittenhouse in the neck with a skateboard and grabbed the gun, Rittenhouse shot him too, reports the Associated Press. He next shot and wounded Grosskreutz because Grosskreutz allegedly lunged at him "with his pistol pointed directly at my head," Rittenhouse said.

Rittenhouse lawyers' trial playbook: Don't 'crusade,' defend

  Rittenhouse lawyers' trial playbook: Don't 'crusade,' defend Soon after a Wisconsin jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges against him, defense attorney Mark Richards took a swipe at his predecessors, telling reporters that their tactics — leaning into Rittenhouse's portrayal as a rallying point for the right to carry weapons and defend oneself — were not his. “I was hired by the two first lawyers. I’m not going to use their names,” Richards said Friday. “They wanted to use Kyle for a cause and something that I think was inappropriate — and I don’t represent causes. I represent clients.

Rittenhouse said that in firing his weapon, he only "intended to stop the people who were attacking" him.

RELATED: Kyle Rittenhouse Testifies After Killing 2 During Unrest, Claims He 'Didn't Do Anything Wrong'

In Barhoma's view, the prosecution's failure to secure guilty verdicts on the homicide charges, in particular, can be partly blamed on the decision to charge Rosenbaum's death as "reckless" and Huber's as "intentional." One undercuts the other, he says.

"It really kind of destroys your case a little bit, in the sense that you misguided the jury," Barhoma tells PEOPLE. "The whole self-defense argument is going to be easy for the jury to accept when these men, Huber and Rosenbaum, appeared to be grabbing for his gun."

He added: "Reasonable minds can differ, but they reasonably could have turned it around and shot him. And that's good enough for self-defense."

Read the original article on People

Acquitted and in demand, Rittenhouse ponders what's next .
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — When he was acquitted of murder in shootings during unrest in Wisconsin, Kyle Rittenhouse went from staring at possible life behind bars to red-hot star of the right: an exclusive interview with Tucker Carlson and a visit with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago capped by a photo of both men smiling and snapping a thumbs-up. For Rittenhouse, a year of legal uncertainty over whether his claim of self-defense would stand up has given way to uncertainty over what’s next. He told Carlson, in an appearance that spiked the host’s ratings by some 40%, that he hoped to become a nurse or maybe even a lawyer. He planned to “lay low” but would for sure leave the Midwest.

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