Prosecutors and defense lawyers of the highly publicized trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, a young man facing charges of multiple homicides after a shooting incident, gave their closing statements last Monday. Now, the case is moving towards the jury. Rittenhouse, who is eighteen years old as of today, is on trial for killing two men and wounding one during a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, back in August of 2020.
As per Rittenhouse and his attorneys, the shooting was an act of self-defense. However, the shooting claimed the lives of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber. The wounded man was Gaige Grosskreutz. The three were shot on the night of August 25, 2020, during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Kyle came to the venue armed with an AR-15 style rifle and shot the three individuals. Witnesses were able to record the shootings separately.
“I didn’t do anything wrong; I was defending myself,” testified Rittenhouse last week. The prosecutors have focused their closing arguments on disputing these claims of self-defense. So far, the state has described the young shooter as “an aggressor, a liar, and an active shooter” who was in no imminent threat of bodily harm or death. Instead, the prosecutors said, he “posed such a threat to others.”
“It’s not up for Mr. Rittenhouse to be the judge, the jury and eventually the executioner,” Assistant District Attorney James Kraus said during the closing statement. “The only imminent threat that night was Mr. Rittenhouse.”
The defense countered the argument by stating that Rittenhouse’s actions were allowed by law and described the threat he faced from rioters as adequate for his actions. The defense attorneys then proceeded with accusations towards the district attorney’s office for rushing to judgment and questioned whether the police were pressured to make the arrest due to political reasons. “Ladies and gentlemen, this is a political case,” defense attorney Mark Richards said. “We can take politics out of it, as in Democrat and Republican, but the district attorney’s office is marching forward with this case because they need somebody to be responsible. They need somebody to put and say, we did it; he’s the person who brought terror to Kenosha.”
Both sides of the case have turned to the video as proof to back up their version of the events. But mainly, the burden now falls on prosecutors to prove that the shootings were not justified as acts of self-defense.
Kyle Rittenhouse, a resident of Antioch, Illinois, has claimed that he went to Kenosha on the night of the protests to provide protection to local businesses and first aid to the wounded. He is currently studying for a Nursing degree at Arizona State University and taking online classes. Kyle also said that he has served as a lifeguard in Kenosha and joined an EMT cadet program to learn basic CPR and first aid. However, he has admitted to lying about being a certified EMT during the night of the shooting.
Rittenhouse now faces multiple charges of first-degree intentional homicide. If convicted, he could face life in prison. There was also a misdemeanor weapons possession count, which has already been dropped as of Monday morning.