Rittenhouse causes bloodshed in Kenosha – The Denver Post

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By SCOTT BAUER, MICHAEL TARM and AMY FORLITI

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse caused bloodshed on the streets of Kenosha by bringing a semi-automatic rifle to protest and threatening others, and when the shooting stopped, he walked away like a “hero in the Western”. The prosecutor said in his closing remarks in the Rittenhouse murder trial on Monday.

But Rittenhouse’s lawyer said the shooting began after the young man was ambushed by “somebody crazy” that night, and he feared that his gun would be drawn and killed him. Defense attorney Mark Richards said Rittenhouse acted in self-defense.

Rittenhouse, then 17, shot dead two men and injured a third during a tumultuous night of protests against racial injustice in the summer of 2020; this case sparked fierce debates in the US over guns, vigilance, and law and order.

Rittenhouse said that in the days after a black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a white Kenosha police officer, he traveled from his Antioch, Illinois home to Kenosha to protect the property from rioters. Rittenhouse, a former police youth student, is white as they shot him.

In the closing arguments, prosecutor Thomas Binger said Rittenhouse was “an undesirable soldier” and “looking for trouble that night”. Binger repeatedly showed the jury drone video in which he said Rittenhouse pointed the AR-style gun at the demonstrators.

“This is provocation. This is what started this incident,” said the prosecutor.

He told the jury: “If you are the one who brought the gun, created the danger, provoked others, you lose the right to self-defense.”

Rittenhouse, now 18, would face mandatory life imprisonment if convicted of first-degree manslaughter, the most serious charge against him, Wisconsin’s top murder charge.

Binger focused on the murder of 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, who was the first man to be shot that night and prompted those who followed. The prosecutor repeatedly called it murder, saying it was unfair.

The prosecutor reminded the jurors that Rittenhouse had told him he knew Rosenbaum was unarmed. Binger also said that there is no video to support the defense claim that Rosenbaum threatened to kill Rittenhouse.

Binger disputed Rosenbaum’s claim that he tried to take Rittenhouse’s rifle. “Mr. Rosenbaum wasn’t even at arm’s length when the first shot was fired,” Binger said. Rittenhouse’s claim that he had no choice but to fire was denied, saying he could run.

And Binger argued that once Rosenbaum was injured, he fell to the ground with a broken pelvis, unable to even pick up the gun attached to Rittenhouse’s body. Rittenhouse continued shooting, placing what the prosecutor called a “lethal shot” on Rosenbaum’s back.

“I think we can agree that 17-year-olds shouldn’t be running around our streets with AR-15s, because that’s exactly what happens,” Binger said.

Defense attorney Richards, in his closing remarks, described Rosenbaum as a “crazy person” “determined to make trouble that night” and went after Rittenhouse without provocation.

“Mr. Rosenbaum was shot because he was chasing my client and was going to kill him, taking his gun and fulfilling the threats he made,” said Richards, adding that Rittenhouse never pointed his gun before he was chased.

After killing Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse shot and killed 26-year-old Anthony Huber as he tried to get through the crowd and injured 28-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse testified that Huber had hit him with a skateboard and Grosskreutz attacked him with a gun of his own – an account largely corroborated by the video and Grosskreutz himself.

However, the prosecutor said that Rittenhouse also incited this bloodshed. Huber said Grosskreutz and others in the crowd were trying to stop what they believed was an active hitman.

When it was all over, Rittenhouse walked away like a “hero in the West – not caring in the world for anything he’s just done”.

The defense said Rittenhouse was founded by a “mafia”. Richards accused prosecutors of using the term “active shooter” for Rittenhouse because of the “heavy connotations of the word.”

And referring to the police shooting of a black man that triggered the protests, Richards said, “Other people in this community shot people seven times and it turned out to be good.” (No charges were brought against the white officer.)

Some jurors averted their eyes when the prosecutor showed a photograph of Rosenbaum’s bloodied body on a stretcher and a photograph of his smashed hand during his autopsy. Later, when Binger showed a close-up of Grosskreutz’s biceps, which had been largely wiped out by a bullet, several jurors grimaced and turned away.

As Binger spoke, he walked towards the judging panel and raised Rittenhouse’s rifle as if he were shooting, pointing it at the wall.

The jurors looked riveted as defense attorney Richards began addressing them with his booming voice.

At one point during the defensive closing, a small protester could be heard cheering outside the building, but it was unclear what they were saying from inside the courtroom.

Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, listened intently in the courtroom.

Supporters hailed Rittenhouse as a hero standing up to lawlessness; his enemies branded him a vigilante.

Binger began his closing remarks by asking if Rittenhouse was really trying to help.

Noting that Rittenhouse was five football fields long and had ammunition that could pass between cars, the prosecutor asked the jury, “Why do you need a 30-round full metal jacket (ammo) to protect a building?” asked.

But Richards said Rittenhouse, who worked as a Kenosha lifeguard and helped clean up graffiti before filming, “had a feeling for this community” and “come here to help, to see harm.”

The defense attorney described the case as a “political case” brought by prosecutors, which he said needed someone to blame for the violence. “Kyle Rittenhouse is not that individualistic,” Richards told the jury.

Earlier on Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a charge by a person under the age of 18 of possession of a dangerous weapon, a crime that appears to be one of the most likely charges among those charges. It lasts up to nine months in prison.

The defense argued that there was an exception to Wisconsin law regarding the length of a gun’s barrel. After prosecutors admitted that Rittenhouse’s rifle was not short-barreled, the judge dismissed the charge.

Perhaps recognizing the weaknesses in their case, the prosecutors asked the judge to allow the jury to consider a few more minor charges if they were acquitted of the original charges. Schroeder agreed to do so while giving the jury 36 pages of legal instructions.

In his instructions, the judge said that in order to grant Rittenhouse’s request for self-defense, the jury must find that Rittenhouse believed there was an unlawful threat to him and that the amount of force he used was reasonable and necessary.

After closing the debates, names would be determined to determine which of the 18 jurors who heard the testimony would decide, the rest would be dismissed as substitutes.

In a close decision, Governor Tony Evers said 500 National Guard members will be deployed in Kenosha if local law enforcement requests it.

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This story has been updated to correct Gaige Grosskreutz’s age as 28.

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Bauer reported from Madison and Forliti reported from Minneapolis. Associated Press writer Tammy Webber contributed from Fenton, Michigan.

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Find full coverage of the AP’s Rittenhouse case: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse