(Trends Wide) — After more than 30 witnesses testified in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial, the case that has drawn US attention is moving into its final stages.
The testimonies, which lasted more than a week, concluded this Thursday, and the final arguments are scheduled to begin this Monday.
Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to six counts, including first-degree murder, reckless manslaughter, attempted first-degree murder.
Two of the people Rittenhouse shot were killed and one was injured.
The events of the night of August 25, 2020, almost all captured on video, are hardly in dispute. The question before the jury is whether Rittenhouse’s actions were reasonable.
Here are some key moments from the courtroom:
In emotional testimony Wednesday, Rittenhouse said he acted in self-defense when he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, who had thrown a plastic bag at him and chased him.
During questioning, he indicated that he knew Rosenbaum was unarmed when he ran towards him, saying that he pointed the gun at Rosenbaum to deter him. Rittenhouse, 18, said he was aware that pointing a rifle at someone is dangerous.
“He was chasing me, he was alone, he threatened to kill me that very night. I didn’t want to have to shoot him,” Rittenhouse testified. “I wrote it down because he kept running towards me and I didn’t want him to chase me.”
Rittenhouse said he was afraid that Rosenbaum, who did not touch him, would take his gun and kill people.
The testimony was crucial to the prosecution and defense’s arguments about his actions that night.
The prosecution is trying to show that Rittenhouse’s actions were reckless and criminal, while the defense said he acted in self-defense.
The exchanges between the judge and the prosecutor
Rittenhouse’s intense testimony was interrupted by tears and several heated exchanges between the judge and the prosecutor. Judge Bruce Schroeder twice reprimanded District Attorney Thomas Binger for his line of questioning.
Schroeder requested that the jury leave the courtroom to address Binger’s line of questioning.
The first incident was about Binger’s questions about silence after Rittenhouse’s arrest, a right solidified in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
“The problem is, this is a serious constitutional violation for me to talk about the defendant’s silence,” Schroeder said. “It’s right on the edge, and it may be over, but it better stop.”
The second reprimand concerned issues related to an incident two weeks before the shootings that Schroeder had ruled would not be allowed to appear as evidence.
Binger said he believed the incident was recently relevant to the case, but Schroeder criticized him for not asking permission first, claiming that evidence would not be allowed.
“I thought his decision was that if the evidence in this case made it more relevant, he would admit it or at least consider his admission,” Binger said, adding that he may have misunderstood that.
Schroeder responded to Binger in a penetrating tone.
“Don’t be cheeky with me,” Schroeder told Binger. “You know very well that a lawyer cannot enter these types of areas when the judge has already ruled without requesting the presence of the jury, so don’t tell me that.”
The judge is known to be tough
It’s no secret that the 75-year-old Schroeder is a tough jurist.
And some may argue that that is what it takes for you to be the longest-serving active judge in Wisconsin trial courts. He has earned a reputation as a judge who is not afraid to make difficult decisions, regardless of the reaction, and that was clearly demonstrated in his conversations with the prosecutor.
He made headlines last month when he argued that the people Rittenhouse shot may not be described as “victims” but rather acceptable terminology like “agitators” or “looters” if those people’s prosecutors carried out those crimes.
“Let the evidence show what the evidence shows, that one or one of these people was involved in fires, riots or looting, then I’m not going to tell the defense that they can’t call them that,” Schroeder said during the pre-hearing hearing. judgment.
His decision immediately sparked debate and, in some cases, outrage in legal circles.
“He has a reputation for doing what he thinks is the right thing to do and for being an independent thinker,” said William Lynch, a retired attorney who served on the board of the ACLU of Wisconsin at the time Schroeder decided to order AIDS testing. for sex workers in the 1980s.
Shooting survivor thought Rittenhouse was an attacker
Gaige Grosskreutz, the only one of the three men shot by Rittenhouse who survived, said he was at the protests helping provide medical care to people. He added that he packed his own medical supplies, including a tourniquet and gauze. He also took his pistol, as he routinely did at other demonstrations, he said.
Grosskreutz, 27, told the court that he first encountered Rittenhouse when “the defendant had essentially been offering medical assistance” to the people at the protest.
Later, Grosskreutz said he heard the shots and heard people yelling for a doctor, so he ran in the direction of the shooting.
He stopped and turned when moments later Rittenhouse passed him on the street, Grosskreutz said, adding that when Rittenhouse passed him, he thought he heard him say, “I’m working with the police and I didn’t do anything.”
Grosskreutz said that after hearing people yell that Rittenhouse had just shot someone, he soon believed the teenager was an attacker.
“More people were pointing at the defendant, saying he had just shot someone, that he was trying to escape,” Grosskreutz said.
“Drawing more inferences from the things I had heard, experienced and witnessed earlier in the evening, I thought the defendant was an attacker,” Grosskreutz told jurors.
Trends Wide’s Eric Levenson, Amir Vera, Ray Sanchez, Melissa Alonso, Brad Parks, and Carma Hassan contributed to this report.