Kyle Rittenhouse Trial: Jury to Get to Weigh Some Lesser Charges

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 The jury that will decide Kyle Rittenhouse’s fate will be allowed to consider some lesser charges in addition to those prosecutors originally brought against him, after fierce debate by both sides on Friday.

The arguments over what would be in the jury instructions were contentious at times, with attorneys rehashing debates they had earlier in the trial or in pretrial hearings. At one point, as the two sides debated about what a particular photo showed, Judge Bruce Schroeder lost his temper, snapping: “You’re asking me to give an instruction. I want to see the best picture!”

Kyle Rittenhouse held his own on the witness stand Wednesday as he fought to keep himself out of prison for shooting three people during a protest in Wisconsin, for the most part conveying a calm demeanor and eliciting two major missteps from prosecutors, legal experts said.

Rittenhouse, now 18, killed two men and wounded a third during a night of turbulent demonstrations against racial injustice in Kenosha in the summer of 2020.

The former police youth cadet from Antioch, Illinois, had gone to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to protect property from the damaging protests that broke out over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.

While Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot, the case has stirred debate over vigilantism, the right to bear arms and the unrest that erupted around the U.S. that summer over the killing of George Floyd and other police violence against Black people.

Wisconsin’s self-defense law allows someone to use deadly force only if “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” The jury must decide whether Rittenhouse believed he was in such peril and whether that belief was reasonable under the circumstances.

LIVE COVERAGE: A live feed of Kyle Rittenhouse's murder trial is available when court is in session.

Here are the latest updates as the case unfolds before the jury. (This will be updated as court resumes Friday)

-- The process of hammering out jury instructions has begun. The prosecution will be asking for less included charges on all the counts still pending.

The judge says he will decide on Saturday.

-- Prosecutors asked for adding lesser counts of second-degree attempted intentional homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree reckless endangerment. Rittenhouse's attorney did not object to the second-degree attempted homicide count, but he did object to adding the reckless endangerment counts, saying he doesn’t believe someone can “attempt to be reckless.”

Schroeder said he would mull it over but was inclined to agree with prosecutors.

-- Closing arguments are expected on Monday. After closing arguments, names will be drawn to decide which 12 jurors will deliberate and which ones will be dismissed as alternates. Eighteen people have been hearing the case. The panel appeared overwhelmingly white.

--Judge Schroeder agrees to Monday for closing arguments and requires time limits of two and a half hours for each side. "The brain cannot absorb what the seat cannot endure," he said.

-- Jury is dismissed for the weekend, but attorneys from both sides are expected to work on instructions for a verdict Friday.

-- The defense has rested its case at the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, setting the stage for closing arguments in the shootings that left Americans divided over whether he was a patriot taking a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante.

The judge indicated closing arguments could be held Monday.

-- Judge Schroeder, who admits he doesn’t understand some of the technology used to manipulate video being used in the trial, stepped down from his bench to get a better look at one exhibit. He was making sure the original and the blow up of a scene showing Rittenhouse putting down his fire extinguisher and picking up his gun were essentially the same before allowing that video to be shown to the jury.

-- When the jury comes back from a short break, the defense will rest its case. The prosecution is planning a rebuttal case with only one witness and three minutes of planned questions.

Defense and prosecution want the case to go to the jury on Monday. Judge wants it to go to the jury Friday because he has another jury starting on Monday.

Judge has grudgingly agreed to the Monday time frame, however.

-- After blistering cross examination of self-proclaimed “journalist” and “professional commentator” Frank Andrew Hernandez, the defense indicates that it “may be done here.”

Hernandez claims he only posted what he saw on his social media accounts, but prosecutors said his efforts were done in support of Kyle Rittenhouse. “is it your practice to interject your personal opinion into the stories you are reporting on?” asked Thomas Binger, the Kenosha County prosecutor. Hernandez responded “no.” Binger retorted, saying, “but you did that here.”

-- Hernandez is coming under fire for bias in the video and descriptions he is providing about the night of Aug. 25 and his interpretation of the protests. He insists on calling them “violent riots” that he says are stoked by “Antifa and BLM.” He provided the video to the attorneys in this case through his attorney. When asked why he felt he needed an attorney to handle the submission, Judge Bruce Schroeder interrupted asking, “What is this?”

When prosecutor Thomas Binger said his line of questioning went to bias and credibility, Schroeder abruptly broke for lunch.

Hernandez' attorney uses a law firm that also represents one of the defense experts.

-- “Professional commentator” Frank Andrew Hernandez testified that Joseph Rosenbaum was combative and provocative in the moments prior to being shot by Kyle Rittenhouse. He says Rosenbaum pushed a flaming dumpster at occupied police cars and repeatedly antagonized other protesters.

“He led the charge into the gas station. He was physically aggressive. He tried to start a physical altercation with people at the gas station,” Hernandez said.

He also shows video he says he recorded of Rosenbaum being held back by other protesters.

-- When shown pieces of evidence, Officer Brittany Bray identified the exhibits as spent shell casings she recovered from the street after they were fired by Rittenhouse. She also talked about how they are ejected from the gun.

-- Defense then calls to the stand Officer Brittany Bray. She is a Kenosha cop who collected the shells from the gun Rittenhouse fired.

-- Defense expert Dr. John Black is going over his video analysis of the Kyle Rittenhouse shooting videos.

He estimates the first four shots fired, the ones that killed Joseph Rosenbaum, were squeezed off in less than three quarters of a second.

There is tension between the defense and the prosecution about his testimony. The prosecution thinks it is going outside the range of what was agreed to by the judge.

However, this is highly technical testimony and not the kind of thing jurors are likely to see much value in.

NBC Chicago/Associated Press
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