Skip to Content

Testimony concludes in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial, closing arguments expected Monday


CNN

By Ray Sanchez, Eric Levenson, Brad Parks and Carma Hassan, CNN

Testimony in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial in Wisconsin concluded Thursday, with closing arguments expected Monday in a high-profile case that has polarized the nation.

Jurors heard from more than 30 witnesses over eight days. The highlight came Wednesday when the 18-year-old defendant took the stand and offered dramatic testimony interrupted by tears and several heated exchanges between the judge and prosecutor.

Judge Bruce Schroeder told jurors that each side will have two and half hours for closings Monday before he instructs the panel on the law.

The jury of eight men and 10 women will be narrowed to 12 by a drawing of names, according to the judge.

The closely watched case has divided observers who consider the young man a do-gooder out protecting businesses from protesters against police brutality and others who saw an armed vigilante looking for trouble.

Rittenhouse’s testimony was crucial to both prosecution and defense arguments about his actions on the night of August 25, 2020. He shot at four people, killing two of them and wounding one. The prosecution sought to show that Rittenhouse’s actions were reckless and criminal, while the defense said he acted in self-defense.

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree attempted intentional homicide. Schroeder dismissed a curfew violation charge Tuesday, saying prosecutors had failed to present evidence to support it.

Prosecutors told the court Thursday they intend ask that jurors be allowed to consider lesser charges on some counts.

If convicted of the most serious charge against him, Rittenhouse faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Testimony lacked emotion of Rittenhouse’s hours on the stand

The defense called 10 witnesses over less than three days of testimony. Thursday lacked the emotion of Rittenhouse’s hours on the stand a day earlier.

Jurors heard from use-of-force expert John Black, who testified that fewer than three seconds passed between the time a protester fired a shot and Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire with his rifle in Kenosha.

Brittni Bray, a Kenosha police officer, testified about collecting shell casings from the shooting scene.

And Drew Hernandez, who shot video of the protests, testified that Rittenhouse tried to deescalate tensions at one point the night of the shooting. He told the jury that Joseph Rosenbaum — the first person to be shot — was “physically aggressive” even before his encounter with Rittenhouse.

Hernandez, who now does commentary for a conservative media website, also testified that he witnessed Rosenbaum at first “charging” and then lunging at Rittenhouse when he fired.

Jurors seemed less engaged Thursday than when Rittenhouse took the stand to claim self-defense one day earlier, according to a pool report.

‘I didn’t do anything wrong’

Rittenhouse testified most of the day Wednesday and said he acted in self-defense when he used an AR-15-style rifle to fatally shoot a man who had threatened him, threw a plastic bag at him and chased him.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself,” he testified.

He testified he subsequently shot at three other people because one tried to kick him, one hit him with a skateboard and one pointed a gun at him.

But on cross-examination, Rittenhouse said he knew the man who threw the bag, Rosenbaum, was unarmed at the time of the shooting. He admitted he did not know what Rosenbaum was thinking when he chased him — but also stated confidently what he thought would have happened.

“If I would have let Mr. Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people if I would have let him get my gun,” he testified.

Rittenhouse broke down in tears at one point in his testimony, leading to a short break.

The prosecution’s cross-examination also led to heated exchanges among the attorneys and judge. Twice, Schroeder asked the jury to leave the room and then sharply admonished prosecutor Thomas Binger for his line of questioning. The first incident related to questions about Rittenhouse’s post-arrest silence, and the second was about an incident two weeks before the shootings that the judge said would not be permitted into evidence.

“Don’t get brazen with me,” Schroeder warned. “You know very well that an attorney can’t go into these types of areas when the judge has already ruled without asking outside the presence of the jury to do so, so don’t give me that.”

The defense asked for a mistrial with prejudice due to the prosecution’s questioning, and the judge said he would take it under advisement.

The prosecution case was highlighted by testimony from an armed paramedic who was shot by Rittenhouse and a journalist who said the gunfire put him in danger.

The charges against the defendant stem from the chaotic unrest in the wake of the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. The events of that night, almost all captured on video, are hardly in dispute. The question before the jury is whether Rittenhouse’s actions were reasonable.

Rittenhouse lays out the night of the shootings

Rittenhouse testified he lived in Antioch, Illinois, with his mother and that his father lived in Kenosha. He said he went into Kenosha on August 25, 2020, with a rifle and small medic kit and joined up with a group of armed people in order to protect a car dealership and to provide first aid.

A man he identified as Rosenbaum, 36, twice threatened to kill Rittenhouse during the night, he testified. Later, Rittenhouse became separated from the other armed people, and Rosenbaum ran at him and threw a plastic bag at him. Rittenhouse testified he believed at the time the thrown object was a chain.

During the chase, another man nearby, Joshua Ziminski, fired a gunshot in the air, police detectives testified earlier in the trial. Ziminski has separately pleaded not guilty to three charges related to that night.

Seconds after that gunshot, Rittenhouse turned and saw Rosenbaum coming at him with his arms out front. He then shot Rosenbaum four times, killing him.

In cross-examination, he said he pointed the gun at Rosenbaum during the chase even though he knew that was a dangerous thing to do.

“He was chasing me, I was alone, he threatened to kill me earlier that night. I didn’t want to have to shoot him,” Rittenhouse testified. “I pointed it at him because he kept running at me and I didn’t want him to chase me.”

Rittenhouse then tried to run down the street to where police were situated to turn himself in, he testified, but a “mob was chasing me.” While running, he became lightheaded and fell to the ground, he said.

An unknown person jumped at him trying to kick him, and Rittenhouse fired at the person twice. Anthony Huber, 26, then came at him, struck him with a skateboard and grabbed his gun, he testified. Rittenhouse shot him once in the chest, killing him.

Finally, he saw Gaige Grosskreutz lunge at him and point a pistol at his head, so Rittenhouse shot him, he testified. Grosskreutz was wounded. Grosskreutz testified Monday for the prosecution and said he never intentionally pointed his gun at Rittenhouse.

Much of the cross-examination centered on why Rittenhouse brought an AR-15-style rifle into an already volatile situation in Kenosha. Rittenhouse explained he did so to protect himself, even as he said he didn’t necessarily think he would be in danger.

“I brought the gun for my protection, but I didn’t think I would have to use the gun and end up defending myself,” he testified. He also said he did not think carrying a rifle would “cause a negative reaction” among the crowd.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2021 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

CNN

Comments

59 Comments

      1. I don’t think they care. It’s not about facts. It’s about taking sides. Most of America’s divide is the result of a conflict between emotional and intellectual response. Those on the Right accuse the Left of having no brains, and those on the Left accuse the Right of having no heart. Each side tries to persuade the other using what they know. Problem is, logic is lost on emotional response, and feels have no impact on intellectual response. The Right wants the Left to stop being so “stupid” and the Left wants the Right to stop being so “hateful”. Each side is simply projecting how they operate onto the other. It does not work. If you want to influence a mind, it must be met on its own terms. So good luck with that!

          1. Yeah it’s not a lifestyle I support. I think his mission was foolish, and have serious concerns over a parent who would assist such a mission. But none of that really matters regarding the murder charges. “Shouldn’t have been there” does not negate the right to defend one’s self from imminent threat.

        1. Premeditated murder? Like in the guy who came up and told him he was going to kill him, or how about the guy who tried to crater in his head with a skateboard, or was it the guy who got his bicep blow off because he shoves a loaded gun in the kid’s face? This is the easiest clear cut case of self defense as there ever was. Thank God there is still sanity in this country in the form of this judge who destroyed the prosecution today when they tried to claim he had no right to be silent.

          1. Still misinformation on his part I haven’t seen any evidence of his statement. But you demand links for anything that goes against the COVID shot. I know you will never admit your bias but it’s blatantly obvious.

              1. Mr. Lerten, I have to disagree and ask you to be consistent in your standard of censorship and take down baseless (and debunked) claims against the defendant. When people are allowed to slander a defendant in a national case, without evidence, before all the facts, testimony, and verdict is out, this helps sway public opinion and “raises the temperature” around this political issue.
                Regardless of the innocence or guilt of Mr. Rittenhouse, he is, under law, innocent until proven guilty.
                There have been previous instances in recent history where someone is declared “innocent” in a court of law, but public opinion deemed him/her “guilty.” The pressure and threats aimed at those who are in the crosshairs of the public commentary have, at times, been pressured to commit suicide, or actually are victims of violence against themselves.
                So baseless and slanderous claims do raise the temperature towards violence and harm to people, not only Mr. Rittenhouse in this case, but also towards those who might be bold enough to think he was acting in self-defense. Case in point: look at the cries for action and violence that led to the January 6 riots? Raising the temperature around a false narrative is, indeed, dangerous.
                Please be consistent with your standard of what constitutes harm and filter such comments that obviously are slanderous and false in nature.

                1. Feel free to contact my supervisors if displeased with my judgment calls.
                  We’ve ALWAYS been more sensitive to comments on local news stories. We allow personal attacks on national politicians all the time. If we didn’t, we’d basically have to get rid of the comment system as that’s a vast majority of what transpires.
                  Juries, sequestered or not, are not reading comments on a website 1,000s of miles away, much less the Facebook mob.
                  Anonymous comment systems have certain protections in terms of the legal terms you speak of. If not, we wouldn’t have them.
                  We have terms of service, and moderators everywhere make judgment calls, which of course bring false claims of “censorship.” Privately operated systems have authority to enforce those terms of service.
                  We don’t allow people to encourage, threaten or promote violence. But weighing in on a highly publicized murder trial? Imagine if social media was around to this level during the OJ Simpson trial.
                  I wish we could strictly enforce civil dialogue, but we err on the side of free speech, whenever possible. And people weighing in on a trial like this usually is acceptable.
                  Thanks for sharing your views. “Obviously false”? Even that’s a judgment call nowadays.

        1. Hayes and basemap have not a stich of proof his “mommy” encouraged Rittenhous to go shoot people. He did have every right to defend himself when those guys were chasing him and grabbing at his fire arm and began to beat him with a skate board. Especially when the so called medic pointed his fire arm at Rittenhous. “Mommy” wasn’t

    1. I get the impression that a conviction was never an expectation. The prosecution is under a mountain of political pressure to put the screws to this kid, and so that’s what they did. When their own key witness admitted on the stand that Kyle acted in self defence, that question was settled. I think it has been well established Kyle did not go there looking for trouble but came prepared because he knew others WERE looking for trouble. This trial seeks to answer that question. Is it proper to kill someone who is threatening your life when you knew before going that you would encounter such threats? I think for most people, the answer aligns with party affiliation.

            1. What was he defending? I’m pretty sure he was there to defend the livelihoods of innocent people against the actions of your “misguided protesters” aka arsons, vandals and looters.

      1. By “hunting” do you mean running from, getting overtaken and being assaulted? Because that’s what happened. Have you even seen the videos? I think you probably have, and just don’t care.

  1. IMHO this never should have gone to trial. the prosecution’s own witness corroborates Kyle’s story. loved it when the prosecutor face palmed yesterday. he knows he has no case.

      1. Jury trials are impossible to predict but nobody who has actually been watching the trial believes he will be convicted of murder. That’s why lefty medial has largely been silent on the proceedings. The verdict is likely going to be a rebuke to the anti 2A crowd and I have little doubt media will use it to fan racial unrest spurring another round of “mostly peaceful protests” in Kenosha and beyond. Time will tell what planet we’re on. I’m betting it’s this one.

  2. I’m about as “liberal” as they come, but he should be acquitted as it was as obvious a case of self-defense as I’ve seen. Sure, maybe the guys attacking him thought they were saving others, but that doesn’t change the fact that they were still attacking him and he had the right to defend himself.

    1. “Sure, maybe the guys attacking him thought they were saving others”. So, right there you’ve just admitted that the idiot kid initiated the situation. At that point it’s no longer defense.

  3. The lesson learned is when you stand down police in the face of riots and looting private citizens will pick up arms to protect themselves and their private property. Most of the time they’ll do it more clumsily than police, and sometime (like in this case) with terrible outcomes. Fund the police and back our professionals to enforce the law to prevent the same from happening again.

  4. My question is. If you were not there to cause trouble why would you yell and threaten to kill someone that obviously had a high powered rifle? Not once but twice or even three times, and then chase the guy with the gun with not just you but others also. Would you be scared for your life if people were coming after you even though you had a gun? Obviously they wanted to cause harm to this kid because they were not afraid of his gun at all. All the while screaming defund the police but then when he did protect himself they were screaming for the police to help them. Beer is good, God is great, and people are obviously crazy. We as U.S. citizens have every right to protect ourselves with every means possible. And this is a case of self defense if they didn’t threaten his life and give chase they would still be walking,breathing,and still living.

      1. Your same logic could be applied to the individuals that specifically traveled to Kenosha to cause violence. You have no idea what you are talking about per self defense laws. Sec defense laws specifically state in the laws themselves it does not matter why the individual claiming it was in the situation.

  5. I agree with his statement. He had every right to defend his life. People want to see him burn for politics. If you put a liberal in his shoes, liberals would be defending him.

      1. Unfortunately it appears as though a key component in your judgement of decency or humanity could be flawed. Have you sought to understand why this kid did what he did? Where was his heart in this matter? Cause right now there are two stories in regards to where this kid’s heart was in this matter, and unfortunately both have been politicized. If you ask me his heart was probably somewhere in the middle of those two stories. There is always three sides to the story, yours mine and reality. I think the decency in this situation would be more about trying to understand where his heart was in this matter instead of trying to prove your own feelings on the matter.

  6. This trial should have been over yesterday and today especially by mistrial. This kid is being prosecuted for first being white and second for being viewed as a Trump supporter. The Black kid who shot 4 in Arlington was released the next day. Kyle is not a murder, he was controlled and defended himself when clearly attacked while cops stood by and FBI sat back watching using aerial surveillance.

  7. CNN spouting BS again: “Rittenhouse broke down in tears at one point in his testimony, leading to a short break.”

    Watch the video – there were NO actual tears. None. The fakest crying since Kavanaugh’s confirmation or Ben Stiller in Tropic Thunder. This kid has no remorse.

  8. The libs are losing their mind because they are wrong on this as usual. It’s so easy to call someone racist because it doesn’t require any thought.

Leave a Reply

Skip to content