The jury in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial began deliberations Tuesday morning after a two-week trial in which the prosecution portrayed Rittenhouse as a reckless “wannabe soldier” who came to Kenosha, Wisc. looking for trouble, while the defense countered that the 17-year-old was acting in self-defense when he fatally shot two men and injured another during the riots there last August.
The charges Rittenhouse faces include first-degree reckless as well as intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering safety, and failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government.
Judge Bruce Schroeder dropped a lesser weapons possession charge on Monday after determining that the law, which bars minors from possessing certain firearms, was so poorly written as to be unenforceable.
Schroeder reduced the number of jurors from 18 to twelve on Tuesday, a pool which Rittenhouse himself extracted from a random lottery. Three men and three women were dismissed, leaving five men and seven women. The six jurors who are not selected will stay in the courtroom on standby.
As they concluded their cases Monday, the defense and the prosecution offered divergent interpretations of Rittenhouse’s actions and intentions the night he traveled to Kenosha to protect a car dealership at the request of the property’s owner.
Defense attorney Mark Richards pointed to the dangerous nature of the men Rittenhouse encountered, including Joseph Rosenbaum, a convicted child sex offender who was released from a mental hospital shortly before the riots.
“We don’t play fast and loose,” he said, “pretending Mr. Rosenbaum was citizen A number one guy…he was a bad man…he was there…he was causing trouble…he was a rioter and my client had to deal with him that night alone.”
“Other people in this community have shot people seven times,” he added, “and it’s been found to be OK… My client did it four times to protect his life from Mr. Rosenbaum.”
On the other hand, the prosecution has argued that Rittenhouse incited the skirmishes by arriving on the scene armed with a menacing firearm, an AR-15, which invited trouble.
“There is no doubt the defendant committed these crimes,” Prosecutor Thomas Binger told the jury. “No reasonable person would have done what the defendant did and that makes your decision easy. He is guilty of all counts.”
“When the defendant provokes the incident, he loses the right to self defense,” he continued. “You cannot claim self defense over a danger you create.”