Kyle Rittenhouse faces six criminal charges in connection with the Aug. 25, 2020, shootings that left 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26-year-old Anthony Huber dead and 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz seriously wounded.
The most serious charge against Rittenhouse is first-degree intentional homicide. which is equivalent to first-degree murder in Illinois and other states. It carries a basic sentence of life in prison.
But as the judge and the attorneys in the case hammer out which instructions in the law will be given to the jury, the prosecution said it wants those jurors to be able to consider what are often called "lesser included charges."
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Former prosecutor Thomas Glasgow said those lesser charges can give the jury an option when there is not a strong case for the charged offenses.
"It allows them to look at something when they may not have had enough evidence to prove the murder," Glasgow said. "If the prosecutor ends up offering the lesser included," Glasgow said, "they have a weaker case and they are acknowledging that."
Rittenhouse is also facing charges of reckless homicide and recklessly endangering public safety. Under Wisconsin law, the first charge is defined as "causing the death of another human being under circumstances that show an utter disregard for human life." Prosecutors do not necessarily have to prove that Rittenhouse intended to kill.
Recklessly endangering public safety also includes the language about utter disregard for human life. Both could be key for prosecutors hoping to secure a conviction from a jury that may not want to convict on the murder charges.
Judge Bruce Schroeder has already denied some of the lesser included charge requests but said he will notify the attorneys of his final decisions by email on Saturday.
Closing arguments in the case are expected to take upwards of four to five hours.
Judge Schroeder will then reduce the number of jurors from 18 to 12 by drawing names out of a tumbler in much the same way lottery numbers are chosen.
Six people will go home. The rest will deliberate on Kyle Rittenhouse’s fate using the instructions written on Friday.
"When the jury goes back into that room, those instructions are their bible," Glasgow says.