(Trends Wide) — The jury will enter its third day of deliberations Thursday in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse on charges related to the shooting in which two people died and another was injured during the riots last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
The 12-person jury, consisting of five men and seven women, deliberated Tuesday and Wednesday on five felony charges. They have asked the court a handful of questions so far, including a request to rewatch much of the video evidence from the shootings.
One of those videos, that of a drone in which Rittenhouse is seen shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, is at the center of the defense petition to annul the trial in the case. The jury viewed that video and the FBI surveillance video Wednesday afternoon for 45 minutes in the courtroom.
Prosecutors received a high-definition version of the drone video mid-trial, but Rittenhouse’s defense team says it received a lower-quality, compressed version from the prosecution, which described it as a technical glitch. The defense learned of the discrepancy once the testimony was finalized and therefore asked the judge to declare the nullity of the trial.
The defense also filed a motion to vacate the trial with prejudice – meaning the state would not be able to retry Rittenhouse – for “willful overreach” in connection with the prosecution’s line of questioning during Rittenhouse’s testimony last week. .
Judge Bruce Schroeder has not ruled on either motion.
The deliberations follow a two-week trial that has been characterized by the emotional and convincing testimony of Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who is at the center of the debates around self-defense, possession of weapons and the manifestations of Black Lives Matter. On the stand, he told jurors – and the public – that he acted in self-defense.
“I did nothing wrong. I defended myself,” he declared.
Rittenhouse is charged with five felonies: first degree manslaughter, first degree reckless manslaughter, attempted first degree manslaughter and two counts of first degree endangering safety. Jurors can also consider misdemeanors for two of the five counts. If convicted of the more serious charge, Rittenhouse could face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Before deliberations, Schroeder dismissed a misdemeanor gun possession and a non-criminal curfew violation.
The charges stem from the chaotic riots that erupted last year in the wake of the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man. Following the riots and destruction, Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, grabbed a medicine cabinet and an AR-15 type rifle and joined a group of gunmen in Kenosha on August 25, 2020.
There, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum – who was chasing the teenager and threw a bag at him – and then attempted to flee. A crowd of people chased the teenager, and Rittenhouse shot an unidentified man who tried to kick him; he fatally shot Anthony Huber, who had hit him with a skateboard, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, who was armed with a pistol.
What happened at the Rittenhouse trial?
Prosecutors called 22 witnesses over six days to show that Rittenhouse acted recklessly that night and provoked Rosenbaum by pointing the rifle at him, sparking the subsequent series of events.
“That’s what triggers this whole incident,” Deputy District Attorney Thomas Binger said in closing arguments. “When the accused provokes this incident, he loses the right to self-defense. He cannot claim self-defense against a danger that he creates.”
The prosecution presented the other three people who confronted the teenager as “heroes” trying to stop what they believed to be an active shooting. Binger also questioned the teenager’s decision to bring a gun into town in the first place, calling him a “tourist of chaos.”
However, on the stand, Rittenhouse testified that he was acting in self-defense when he shot Rosenbaum four times, who he said had previously threatened him, chased him, thrown a bag at him and pounced on his gun. Rittenhouse also referred to the other three people he shot as part of a “mob” that was chasing him.
During her testimony, she was emotional and burst into tears when she began recounting the initial shooting, which caused a hiatus in the case.
In closing arguments, defense attorney Mark Richards said Rittenhouse feared for his life when he opened fire.
“All the people who were shot were attacking Kyle. One with a skateboard, one with his hands and one with his feet, one with a gun,” Richards said. “Hands and feet can cause great bodily harm.”
More than a dozen videos from the night were shown at the trial showing what happened before, during and after the shooting. Most of the facts of what happened that night were not debated, rather, at the heart of the trial was the analysis of Rittenhouse’s actions and whether they can be considered “reasonable.”
The prosecution faced a difficult challenge in the case because Wisconsin law requires the state to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Rittenhouse was not acting in self-defense. But there are limits to a self defense claim.
“The accused may intentionally use force with the purpose or probability of causing death or great bodily harm only if the defendant reasonably believed that the force used was necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself,” they explain the jury’s instructions.
Trends Wide’s Mike Hayes, Carma Hassan and Cheri Mossburg contributed to this report.