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Friday, March 31, 2023

Jury may charge less in Rittenhouse case

by Scott Bauer, Michael Tarm and Amy Politi | The Associated Press

Kenosha, Wis. — A jury deciding the fate of Kyle Rittenhouse will be allowed to consider lesser charges if they choose to acquit him in some of the original cases brought by prosecutors, the judge said Friday during a controversial hearing in which Both sides can claim partial victory.

Rittenhouse, of nearby Antioch, Illinois, testified that he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot two demonstrators and a third during the night of August 2020 in Kenosha following the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake. injured.

Jurors are expected to begin deliberations on Monday after closing arguments in a case that has divided Americans as to whether Rittenhouse was a patriot who took a stand against anarchy or a vigilante who sought to provoke a reaction. He had brought a gun in protest.

With the ruling passed, Governor Tony Evers said Friday that 500 National Guard members would be prepared for duty in Kenosha if local law enforcement requested him.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, has been charged with the murders of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and intentional manslaughter to injure Gage Grosskretz, among other counts.

Wisconsin law allows prosecutors and defenses to ask that jurors be told they may consider a reduced charge as part of instructions received prior to deliberation. Defense lawyers can object to the lesser charges, and in some cases they did so on Friday. For those he did not object to, Judge Bruce Schroeder asked Rittenhouse to confirm that he agreed with his lawyers’ decision.

Schroeder told Rittenhouse that by including fewer charges, “you are increasing the risk of conviction, although you are avoiding the possibility that the jury will settle on a more serious crime. And you are also reducing the risk that You will end up with a second trial because the jury is unable to agree.”

Rittenhouse said he understood.

Schroeder said he would deliver his final verdict on Saturday, but he drew some conclusions from the bench and indicated how he might rule on others. For cases where jurors would be allowed to consider lesser charges, they would only be instructed to consider them if they first acquit Rittenhouse of a more serious original related charge.

Friday’s arguments on the jury’s directions were controversial at times, with lawyers reiterating earlier arguments in the case. At one point, as prosecutors were seeking to add a directive that would allow the jury to consider whether Rittenhouse was indicted, both sides argued about what a particular photograph showed. Schroeder lost his temper, snapping: “You’re asking me to give you an instruction. I want to see the best picture!”

Schroeder eventually said he would allow the provocation directive, which would ask the jury to consider whether Rittenhouse had incited Rosenbaum to attack him. If the jury finds that he has done so, it will rule out self-defense.

Rittenhouse, now 18, faces one count of first-degree reckless homicide in the murder of Rosenbaum, who was the first to be shot after Rosenbaum followed him into a used car lot. Prosecutors sought to add a charge of second-degree negligent manslaughter, but the defense resisted. Schroeder said he was unlikely to allow the lower charge because he thought the guilty verdict on the lower charge would be reversed on appeal.

Rittenhouse also faces two charges of first-degree reckless endangerment: one for firing at an unidentified man who tried to kick him in the face and another because a reporter was in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. Was.

Schroeder said he was inclined to allow a lesser charge of second-degree reckless endangerment when it comes to endangering the reporter, but may not have done so. He said he would not allow a lesser charge in the case of the unidentified man who tried to kick Rittenhouse.

In Huber’s death, Rittenhouse also faces one count of first-degree willful manslaughter. This is the most serious charge against him and carries a mandatory sentence of life imprisonment. Huber rode his skateboard at Rittenhouse shortly after Rittenhouse killed Rosenbaum.

The defense did not object to adding fewer counts of second-degree intentional manslaughter and first-degree negligent manslaughter as being related to Huber. It objected to the addition of the charge of second-degree negligent manslaughter. Schroeder said he “embraced” that logic.

Rittenhouse also faces one count of attempted murder of the first degree for shooting and injuring Grosskretz in the arm. Grosskretz, with a gun in his hand, confronted Rittenhouse just after Rittenhouse shot Huber.

Prosecutors asked to add the options of second-degree intentional manslaughter, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree reckless endangerment. Rittenhouse Attorney Corey Chirafisi did not object to the second-degree attempted murder count, but did object to the addition of the reckless endangerment count, saying he did not believe one could “attempt to be reckless.”

Schroeder said he would consider it but was willing to agree with prosecutors.

Rittenhouse is also accused of possessing a dangerous weapon under the age of 18. It was unclear on Friday what Schroeder wanted to tell jurors on that charge.

Legal observers said both sides had some victories during the hearing. Milwaukee criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Julius Kim said that no matter how confident Rittenhouse is of his defense, accepting a lower charge on the most serious count reduces his risk of being convicted and sentenced to life in prison .

“I think they believe it might be a good thing for Mr Rittenhouse to have a jury potentially convict him of a lesser crime than if they found him guilty of anything,” Kim said. Kim said the lack of a defense objection on that count. This may indicate that they may not be sure of an acquittal.

Still, the fact that prosecutors are seeking a lesser crime is a “tacit acknowledgment” that they do not believe the jury will convict Rittenhouse on the original charges.

“I think they’re trying to salvage something on his time,” Kim said.

Michael O’Hear, a criminal law professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee, agreed, saying that less involved charges are usually sought by defense.

O’Hare said, “generally the prosecutor would not request a less involved instruction if the prosecutor had too much confidence in the possibility of a conviction of a greater crime,” noting that it “practically invites the jury to settle.” does.” less crime. ,

After nearly two weeks, the testimony in this case ended on Thursday. The most exciting moment in the trial came when Rittenhouse told the jury that he was defending himself from assault when he used his rifle to shoot three people.

Closing arguments will take place on Monday, after which names will be drawn to decide which of the 12 jury members will deliberate and which will be dismissed as alternates. Eighteen people are hearing the case. The panel appears to be overly white, as do Rittenhouse and those he shot.

World Nation News Desk
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