Kyle Rittenhouse faces several charges, including homicide. File Photo courtesy of the Kenosha County, Wis., Sheriff's Department
Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Attorneys made opening remarks Tuesday in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot two men dead and injured a third during anti-racism protests in Kenosha, Wis., last year.
Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to several charges, including felony homicide and reckless endangerment, and some misdemeanor charges.
Authorities said then-17-year-old Rittenhouse fatally shot Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, now 27, using an assault-style rifle during the August 25, 2020, protest of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, which left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.
Rittenhouse, now 18, and living in Antioch, Ill., was arrested a day later and was indicted as an adult on charges of being a fugitive from justice.
Prosecutors said Tuesday that Rittenhouse acted recklessly and unreasonably. The defense said he traveled to Kenosha to protect businesses during the protests and acted in self-defense because he feared for his life.
"Like moths to a flame, tourists from outside our community were drawn to chaos," Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said in his opening statement. "The evidence will show that the only person who killed anyone was the defendant.
"When you consider the reasonableness of the defendant's action, I ask you to keep that in mind," Binger added.
Binger also focused on the first shooting of Rosenbaum, and portrayed Rittenhouse as the aggressor, saying he chased Rosenbaum before shooting him.
He also said that the evidence would show that the fatal shot hit Rosenbaum in the back after he fell forward following earlier shots in his pelvis and leg.
Binger continued that Rittenhouse also fled the scene even though he had a medical kit, as others attempted to come to Rosenbaum's aid.
On the other hand, defense lawyer Mark Richards said that his client acted in self-defense.
"We have two very different outlooks on the events of August 25th of 2020," Richards said in his opening argument.
The defense has hinged its case on the self-defense argument, the opening remarks show.
"Ultimately, what this case will come down to -- it isn't a whodunit or when-did-it-happen or anything like that. It is: Was Kyle Rittenhouse's actions privileged under the law of self-defense?" Richards said to the jury.
Richards also showed the jury a series of photographs, including one that showed Rosenbaum setting something on fire, another showing two people Rosenbaum was with that night, one holding a gun and another a heavy flashlight, and a video still, which he said showed Grosskreutz reaching into a backpack to pull out a gun.
Richards also displayed a photo of Huber with his skateboard.
"Kyle Rittenhouse protected himself," Richards said, from people who "attacked him in the street like an animal."
Rittenhouse faces five felony charges: first-degree intentional homicide, first degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
Misdemeanor charges he faces include possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18 and non-criminal violation of failure to comply with an emergency order.
The trial began Monday with jury selection.
Nine men and 11 women were selected from the field of 150 potential jurors for the trial.
Though 20 jurors are hearing the case, the number of jurors will be cut to 12 to reach verdict. The process of selecting 12 impartial jurors was made difficult due to the high-profile nature of the case.
Last week, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled that attorneys in the trial may refer to Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz as "rioters," "looters," and "arsonists" -- but not as "victims."
"The word 'victim' is a loaded, loaded word," he said. "Alleged victim' is a cousin to it."