KENOSHA, Wis. – Jurors weighing the charges against Kyle Rittenhouse were set to return on Wednesday for a second day of deliberation into his murder trial after failing to reach a swift verdict on whether he was the instigator of a night of bloodshed in Kenosha or a concerned citizen who was attacked while trying to protect property.
The twelve-member jury deliberated for a whole day on Tuesday without reaching a decision. Several looked tired as they walked into the courtroom on Tuesday evening and signaled with a show of hands that they were ready to go home.
The case went to the anonymous jury after Judge Bruce Schroeder, in an unusual move, allowed Rittenhouse himself to play a minor role in selecting the final panel of 12 to decide his fate. Rittenhouse reached into a raffle and drew numbered notes that determined which of the 18 jurors hearing the case would deliberate and which would be dismissed as alternates.
That duty is usually performed by a clerk, not the defendant. Schroeder said he’s had suspects do this for years, “I’m saying at least 20 years.”
Rittenhouse, 18, faces life imprisonment if he is convicted of the most serious charges for using an AR-style semi-automatic rifle to kill two men and wound a third during a night of protests against racial injustice in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. former police youth cadet is white, just like those he shot.
Rittenhouse testified that he acted in self-defense, while prosecutors claimed he provoked the violence. The case has become a flashpoint in the American debate over guns, protests against racial justice, vigilante and law and order.
The jury turned out to be predominantly white. Prospective jurors were not asked to identify their race during the selection process, and the court did not provide a race breakdown.
As the jury deliberated, dozens of protesters – some for Rittenhouse, some against – stood outside the courthouse. Some spoke softly to those on the other end, while others shouted insults. One woman was repeatedly told that some Rittenhouse supporters were “white supremacists.”
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who has been criticized for his response to the 2020 Kenosha protests, urged calm as the jury deliberated. He announced last week that 500 National Guard members would be ready for duty in Kenosha if needed.
“Regardless of the outcome of this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and in our state,” Evers tweeted. He added, “I ask everyone who chooses to come together in any community and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully.”
The major protests that some had expected did not materialize during the testimony phase of the trial. Most days, only a few protesters gathered on the steps of the courthouse, and the high fence that protected the building during last year’s unrest has disappeared.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he moved to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, in what he said was an effort to protect property from rioters in the days after a black man, Jacob Blake, was gunned down by a white Kenosha police officer. .
In a fast-moving series of street collisions, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28.
During closing arguments Monday, District Attorney Thomas Binger said Rittenhouse was a “wannabe soldier” who set in motion the deadly chain of events by bringing a rifle to a protest and pointing it at protesters just before being chased.
But Rittenhouse attorney Mark Richards replied that Rittenhouse was ambushed by a “crazy” – Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum chased him and grabbed his rifle, raising fears that the weapon would be used against him. His account of Rosenbaum’s behavior was largely corroborated by video and some prosecution witnesses.
As for Huber, he was shot after being seen on video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. And Grosskreutz admitted to pointing his own gun at Rittenhouse when he was shot.
In his instructions to the jury, Schroeder said that to accept Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense, the jurors had to determine that he believed there was an unlawful threat to him and that the amount of force he used was reasonable and necessary.