Kyle Rittenhouse could be seen smiling in the backseat of an SUV as he was driven away from the Kenosha courthouse Friday afternoon after being cleared of all charges.
Rittenhouse, 18, collapsed in tears and hugged his attorney as the jury in his double murder trial acquitted him of all charges after four days of deliberation and weeks of testimony. The verdict came in at 12:15 p.m. Friday in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rittenhouse faced life in prison if convicted on the most serious charge for using an AR-style semi-automatic rifle to kill two men – Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum – and wound a third, Gaige Grosskreutz.
Outside the court, defense lawyer Mark Richards said Rittenhouse was feeling a ‘huge sense of relief’ at the verdict.
‘He is on his way home, he wants to get on with his life,’ Richards said. ‘He has to get on with his life the best he can.’
Richards said he believed the Rittenhouse family would move out of the area because of the number of death threats they have received.
‘Kyle is in counseling for PTSD. He doesn’t sleep at night,’ he said.
Immediately after the verdict was read, Kyle Rittenhouse was whisked out of the courtroom and into a waiting SUV
Rittenhouse was seen smiling in the back seat of the SUV as he was driven away from the Kenosha courthouse
Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all five counts Friday afternoon by a jury in the Kenosha County Circuit Court
The verdict came in at 12:15pm Friday in Kenosha, Wisconsin, leading to fears that the city might once again erupt in violence
As the first verdict was read, Rittenhouse, 18, started to shake as he fought back tears. But by the end, he could hold them no longer and he collapsed into his chair and then hugged defense attorney Corey Chirafisi
Rittenhouse, 18, collapsed in tears and then hugged defense attorney Corey Chirafisi as the jury in his double murder trial acquitted him of all charges after four days of deliberation and weeks of testimony
‘Eventually some anonymity will come back to him but I don’t think he will continue to live in this area.’
‘I think it’s too dangerous,’ Richards said. He explained that Rittenhouse has had security following him around the clock ‘since this happened.’
He said Rittenhouse and his team have received a ‘scary’ amount of death threats.
Richards revealed that the defense team had two mock trials, one with Rittenhouse giving testimony and one without, and it was clear from the jury reaction that he had to go on the stand.
He also said the jury deliberations were longer than any other case he had been involved in.
Now that Rittenhouse has been acquitted in the shootings, his lawyer said the teen plans to become a nurse.
Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested August 26, 2020 in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois and charged with first degree intentional homicide over the shooting death of two protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin the previous day
Shortly before he traveled to Kenosha, Wisconsin armed with an AR-15 and killed two protesters on August 25, 2000, Rittenhouse gave an interview to right-wing news outlet The Daily Caller.
Armed with a rifle slung across his body, the teen told the reporter he was a certified EMT and explained he was patrolling the streets of Kenosha to provide medical attention to anyone in need and was helping protect local businesses from looters and rioters.
‘People are getting injured. Our job is to protect this business and part of my job is to also help people,’ Rittenhouse said of his militia.
‘If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way,’ added Rittenhouse, who was seen earlier guarding a local car shop with a group of armed militia members.
‘That’s why I have my rifle because I can protect myself, obviously. I also have my medkit.’
He also claimed he had been ‘de-escalating’ a potentially violent situation earlier in the night, during which he and the rest of his vigilante crew ordered protesters to leave a church that they had targeted.
Shortly before the attack, and armed with a rifle slung across his body, Rittenhouse told the reporter he was a certified EMT and explained he was patrolling the streets of Kenosha to provide medical attention to anyone who had been injured, as well as protecting businesses from looters
Rittenhouse’s lawyer took out his anger on prosecutor Thomas Binger.
‘Justice is done when the truth is reached. Prosecutors are supposed to seek the truth. It’s not about winning,’ Richards said.
But he praised Judge Schroeder, saying he had presided over a ‘fair trial.’
‘He gives you a fair trial as a defendant — but you don’t want him to sentence your client,’ he said, commenting on his reputation for handing out stiff sentences.
‘If we had lost we know what would happen, he would have gotten life in prison. We asked for a fair trial and we got one.’
He defended Schroeder’s decision to allow Rittenhouse to pick the from a tumbler the jurors who would become alternates, saying the defense team was ‘devastated’ that three of the jurors they considered most on their side were barred from the final deliberations.
Binger had made it clear earlier in the week that he would not comment on the outcome of the case.
But his boss, Kenosha County District Attorney Mike Graveley, issued a statement saying: ‘We respect the jury verdict based on three and a half days of careful deliberations.
‘Certainly, issues regarding the privilege of self-defense remain highly contentious in our current times.’
Graveley added a plea for calm. ‘We ask that all members of the public accept the verdicts peacefully and not resort to violence.’
Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy was in the public gallery and also burst into tears as the verdicts were read
Clearly disappointed, prosecutor Thomas Binger, who has been heavily criticized for his actions during the case, sat back in his chair, looked at the ceiling, and issued a sigh as the verdict came in
Judge Bruce Schroeder listens as the verdicts are read by Judicial Assistant Tami Mielcarek in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial
The Rittenhouse shootings took place during 2020 summertime riots two days after Blake was shot when officers responded to a ‘family trouble’ around 5:15 p.m. August 23, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Now, Kenosha is on edge again as protesters from both sides milled about on the courthouse steps after the verdict.
The verdict marks the explosive end of a trial that has been riddled with controversy and drama that had threatened to derail proceedings more than once.
President Joe Biden said Friday that he stands by the jury’s verdict – as Republicans renewed demands that he apologize for calling the Kenosha shooter a white supremacist in the wake of the shootings.
‘I stand by with the jury as the jury system has concluded. The jury system works and you have to abide by it,’ Biden told reporters Friday afternoon as he returned to the White House from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had a physical.
He said he ‘just heard a moment ago’ about the verdict, adding he ‘didn’t watch the trial, which featured dramatic clashes between the prosecution and defense lawyers and testimony by the accused teen in an event that got gavel-to-gavel cable news coverage.
Republican lawmakers and other officials are demanding that Biden apologize to Rittenhouse for linking him to white supremacists following the Wisconsin jury’s not-guilty verdict.
Joe Biden needs to publicly apologize to Kyle Rittenhouse,’ said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), in a statement immediately after the verdict.
Before he gained infamy, Rittenhouse was a hot-tempered student at Lakes Community High School, his former classmates said.
Before he gained infamy, Rittenhouse was a hot-tempered student at Lakes Community High School, his former classmates said
‘When he got mad or offended he would always say he could “fuck me up,” but everyone would just laugh because he was like a 5-foot-4 chubby freshman boy who we thought wasn’t capable of harm,’ a student told Vice during an August, 2020, interview.
Other classmates told the outlet that Rittenhouse was fond of police, guns, former president Donald Trump, and ‘triggering the libs.’
Rittenhouse was born January 3, 2000 to parents Wendy and Mike and grew up in a broken home after the couple split.
Wendy Rittenhouse, a single mom of three, struggled to make ends meet and the family was evicted numerous times, The New Yorker reported.
She filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and was hospitalized with a gastrointestinal bleed, prompting her son to find work as a fry cook and janitor to support the family financially, the outlet said.
Rittenhouse previously participated in a youth public safety cadet program
When he was in Grade 9, the magazine reported, the aspiring first responder joined an ‘explorers program’ at the Grayslake Police Department in Illinois, which the local police chief said was meant to ‘teach self-discipline, responsibility and other appropriate “life lessons” to troubled teens.
He also enrolled in a cadet program at the Antioch Fire Department, where Chief Jon Cokefair told The New Yorker: ‘Most of the kids that are doing this, they don’t play football, they’re not cheerleaders. This is their focus.’
By all accounts, Rittenhouse seemed to idolize the police.
Before Rittenhouse’s Facebook account was deactivated, it reflected the young man’s admiration for law enforcement, which he praised heavily on social media.
Much of Rittenhouse’s Facebook was devoted to praising law enforcement, with references to Blue Lives Matter – the movement that supports police
In a photograph posted by his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, he is wearing what appears to be a blue law enforcement uniform as well as the kind of brimmed hat that state troopers wear.
Records show that in January 2017 his mom claimed a classmate of her son’s had been calling him ‘dumb’ and ‘stupid’ and threatening him as she sought an order of protection from police.
Rittenhouse was identified in court papers as a lifeguard at a YMCA in Lindenhurst, Illinois.
In January 2020, Rittenhouse sat front row at a Trump rally in Des Moines, Iowa.
What charges did Kyle Rittenhouse face?
Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two of them and wounding the third, during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse argued that he fired in self-defense after the men attacked him.
Here’s a look at the charges that prosecutors carried into court, as well as lesser charges:
COUNT 1: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESS HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
This felony charge is connected to the death of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man Rittenhouse shot. Bystander video shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse through a parking lot and throwing a plastic bag at him. Rittenhouse flees behind a car and Rosenbaum follows. Video introduced at trial showed Rittenhouse wheeling around and firing as Rosenbaum chased him. Richie McGinniss, a reporter who was trailing Rittenhouse, testified that Rosenbaum lunged for Rittenhouse’s gun.
Reckless homicide differs from intentional homicide in that prosecutors aren’t alleging Rittenhouse intended to murder Rosenbaum. Instead, they’re alleging Rittenhouse caused Rosenbaum’s death in circumstances showing an utter disregard for human life.
The charge is punishable by up to 60 years in prison. The dangerous weapon modifier carries an additional five years.
COUNT 2: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESSLY ENDANGERING SAFETY, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
This felony charge is connected to the Rosenbaum shooting. McGinniss told investigators he was in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. The charge is punishable by 12 1/2 years in prison. The weapons modifier carries an additional five years.
Prosecutors asked Schroeder to let the jury consider a second-degree version of this charge. The difference is that the second-degree version doesn’t require a finding that Rittenhouse acted with utter disregard for human life. Schroeder said he was inclined to allow that instruction, though he didn’t make a final ruling. The charge is punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
COUNT 3: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESSLY ENDANGERING SAFETY, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
Video shows an unknown man leaping at Rittenhouse and trying to kick him seconds before Anthony Huber moves his skateboard toward him. Rittenhouse appears to fire two rounds at the man but apparently misses as the man runs away.
This charge is a felony punishable by 12 1/2 years in prison. The weapons modifier again would add up to five more years.
Schroeder said he would decline prosecutors’ request that jurors be allowed to consider this charge in the second degree.
COUNT 4: FIRST-DEGREE INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
This charge is connected to Huber’s death. Video shows Rittenhouse running down the street after shooting Rosenbaum when he falls to the street. Huber leaps at him and swings a skateboard at his head and neck and tries to grab Rittenhouse’s gun before Rittenhouse fires. The criminal complaint alleges Rittenhouse aimed the weapon at Huber.
Intentional homicide means just that – a person killed someone and meant to do it. Bucher said that if Rittenhouse pointed the gun at Huber and pulled the trigger that would amount to intentional homicide. However, self-defense would trump the charge.
‘Why I intended to kill this individual makes the difference,’ Bucher said.
The count carries a mandatory life sentence. The weapons modifier would add up to five years.
COUNT 5: ATTEMPTED FIRST-DEGREE INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON
This is the charge for Rittenhouse shooting Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm seconds after he shot Huber, and as Grosskreutz came toward him holding a pistol. Grosskreutz survived. Video shows Rittenhouse pointing his gun at Grosskreutz and firing a single round.
The charge carries a maximum sentence of 60 years. The weapons modifier would add up to five more years.
The possible punishment for attempted second-degree intentional homicide is 30 years.
DISMISSED – COUNT 6: POSSESSION OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON BY A PERSON UNDER 18
Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. He was 17 years old on the night of the shootings. Wisconsin law prohibits minors from possessing firearms except for hunting. It was not clear on Friday what Schroeder intends to tell jurors about that charge.
The charge is a misdemeanor punishable by up to nine months behind bars.
Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed count 6 from Rittenhouse’s rap sheet Monday morning.
DISMISSED- COUNT 7: FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH AN EMERGENCY ORDER FROM STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT
Rittenhouse was charged with being out on the streets after an 8 p.m. curfew imposed by the city, a minor offense that carries a fine of up to $200. Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the charge during the second week of trial after the defense argued that prosecutors hadn’t offered enough evidence to prove it
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