Protesters are seen outside the courthouse in Kenosha County on Monday during closing arguments in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, in Kenosha, Wis. Photo by Tannen Maury/EPA-EFE
Nov. 16 (UPI) -- Jurors weighing the trial of homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three protesters during unrest in Kenosha, Wis., over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, concluded deliberations Tuesday without delivering a verdict.
The 12-juror panel was expected to resume deliberating at 10 a.m. Wednesday as they consider the case in which Rittenhouse, 18, faces five charges, including reckless homicide in the first degree for killing activists Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber with his assault-style rifle, and first-degree attempted homicide for wounding medic Gaige Grosskreutz on Aug. 25, 2020.
Before Judge Bruce Schroeder turned the case over to the jury on Monday, he dismissed a misdemeanor weapons charge and a non-criminal violation of failure to comply with an order for violating a curfew.
"Now you're in deliberation and the rules are the same as they were before with additional provision that you can't talk with anybody about the case," Schoeder told the jurors before dismissing them. "Even if all 12 of you, by happenstance end up in the same place. Some bowling alley or restaurant or something. You're not allowed to talk about the case, even with all 12."
During the deliberations, jurors requested extra copies of all 36 pages of the jury instructions.
On the day of the killings, Rittenhouse traveled from his home in Antioch, Ill., to Kenosha armed with a military-style AR-15. He said during tense testimony last week that he wanted to protect other people's property from violent demonstrators who were protesting Blake's shooting. Prosecutors said at trial that he shouldn't have even been there.
Cellphone video taken shortly after the shootings showed Rittenhouse, then 17, running down a street after he shot Rosenbaum as others chased after him. Huber is then seen attempting to grab the rifle from Rittenhouse when he is shot.
At trial, prosecutors argued that Rittenhouse traveled to Kenosha from Illinois looking for a fight, while the defense said he was motivated by a passion for community and only fired at the men in self-defense.
"I didn't do anything wrong," Rittenhouse said during his courtroom testimony. "I defended myself."
Rittenhouse testified that he encountered Rosenbaum when he was "walking with a steel chain" and a "blue mask around his face," and claimed that he'd threatened several people.
"He was just mad about something," Rittenhouse told the court last week. "He was screaming. He said, 'I'm going to cut your [expletive] hearts out.'"
Under cross-examination from prosecutors, Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum "would have killed me" if he'd taken his gun away. Rittenhouse, however, admitted to prosecutors more than once on the stand that neither Rosenbaum nor Huber ever touched him.
The facts that he lived in Illinois, not Kenosha, and that the two dead men never physically touched him are at the center of prosecutors' arguments that Rittenhouse never had cause to believe that his life was in danger, and that deadly force was necessary.
During closing arguments on Monday, defense attorney Mark Richards argued Rosenbaum was "leaping" and "lunging" at his client and that his "hand was on the gun."
Jason Lackowski, a former U.S. Marine who also traveled to Kenosha with a weapon to protect property, testified for prosecutors that Rosenbaum had been "acting very belligerently" on the night of the shootings, and was a "babbling idiot." He also told the court that Rosenbaum was "false stepping" and "very bluntly" daring Rittenhouse to shoot him.
Lackowski, who rendered medical aid to Grosskreutz after he was shot by Rittenhouse, said he never considered Rosenbaum to be a serious threat.
Kyle Rittenhouse is seen following his arrest on August 26, 2020, hours after he shot three activists during unrest in Kenosha, Wis. File Photo courtesy of Kenosha County, Wis., Sheriff's Department
Prosecutor Thomas Binger argued that Rittenhouse should have run away from Rosenbaum to "exhaust all reasonable means to avoid killing someone." His decision to use the gun, he added, was what "provoked the entire incident."
"You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create," Binger said of Wisconsin law. "That's critical right here. If you're the one who is threatening others, you lose the right to claim self-defense."
Rittenhouse's attorney lodged a similar argument about Grosskreutz, arguing that he should have "retreated" and not gone willingly into a confrontation with an armed man.
Richards emphasized video that played in the courtroom at trial, in which Rittenhouse said he was going to find police after he encountered Grosskreutz, and said the activist should have left him alone and went to "give aid and comfort" to the wounded Rosenbaum.
Grosskreutz, a licensed paramedic from suburban Milwaukee and the lone survivor of those shot, testified that he was standing close to Rittenhouse when he shot and killed Huber and felt that he was "going to die" next.
He acknowledged that he was holding a handgun as he approached Rittenhouse, but said that he never thought of using it.
"In that moment, I was trying to preserve my own life," he said. "But doing so while also taking the life of another is not something that I'm capable of or comfortable doing."
Binger argued that Grosskreutz's gun was pointed at Rittenhouse because it moved into that position involuntarily after he was shot in the arm and his bicep was severed.
Rittenhouse was arrested after returning to Illinois and extradited to Wisconsin, where he was held on $2 million bail, which was ultimately paid through donations to his legal defense fund.
The defense argued that police "rushed to judgment" in arresting Rittenhouse just hours after the shootings, before "all of the bullets have been picked up" off the ground.
Schroeder has been criticized over the course of the trial for various behaviors, including making an ethnicity-based joke and ruling that Rosenbaum and Huber could not be referred to as "victims."
Two jurors were also dismissed, one for a pregnancy-related issue and the other for making a joke to a sheriff's deputy about Blake's shooting.
Shortly after Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty in the case, the terms of his bond were changed after he was spotted on security footage drinking beer at a bar in Mount Pleasant, Wis., and flashing an "OK" hand gesture, which has been co-opted by White supremacist groups. A group of men also serenaded Rittenhouse with the Proud Boys anthem -- a group linked to violent White supremacy.
Prosecutors also sought to rearrest Rittenhouse after he failed to notify the court about a change of address within 48 hours.
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has authorized 500 National Guard troops to support local law enforcement in Kenosha in the event of unrest following the verdict.