MICHAEL THARM, AMY FORLITY and TAMMY WEBBER
KYENOSHA, Wisconsin (AP) – A jury at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial spent an entire day on Tuesday, never reaching a verdict on whether he was the instigator of the bloody night in Kenosha or a worried citizen who was attacked while trying to protect property.
The case was referred to an anonymous jury after the judge, in an unusual move, allowed Rittenhouse himself to play a secondary role in the selection of the last 12-man committee, whose task was to decide his fate.
Rittenhouse reached into the lottery tray and pulled out numbered receipts that determined which of the 18 jurors sitting on the case would decide and which would be fired as deputies.
This task is usually performed by the judicial clerk and not by the accused. Judge Bruce Schroeder said later that day that the defendants have been doing this for “I’ll say at least 20 years.”
The jury will return on Wednesday morning to continue their work.
Rittenhouse, 18, faces life imprisonment if convicted of using an AR-style semi-automatic rifle to kill two men and wound a third on the night of racial injustice protests in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. the cadets are white, like those he shot.
Rittenhouse testified that he acted in self-defense while prosecutors claimed he provoked the violence. The case has become a hot spot in the US debate over weapons, protests against racial justice, vigilance and the rule of law.
The jury was found to be predominantly white. Potential jurors were not asked to name their race during the selection process, and the court did not provide a breakdown by race.
As the jury debated, dozens of protesters stood outside the courthouse, some for Rittenhouse, others against. Some spoke quietly to those on the other side, while others shouted insults. One woman could be heard repeatedly calling some of Rittenhouse’s supporters “white supremacists.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who has faced criticism over his reaction to Kenosha’s 2020 protests, called for calm during a jury deliberation. He announced last week that 500 National Guard soldiers would be ready to serve in Kenosha if needed.
“Regardless of the outcome of this case, I am calling for peace in Kenosha and throughout our state,” Evers tweeted. He added, “I ask all those who choose to come together and exercise their First Amendment rights in every community to do so safely and peacefully.”
The major protests that some expected did not materialize during the testimony phase. In most cases, only a few demonstrators gathered on the steps of the courthouse, and the high fence that protected the building during last year’s riots has disappeared.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he fled to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, in an attempt to protect property from rioters in the days after a black man, Jacob Blake, was shot and killed by a white Kenosha police officer.
In a fast-paced series of street clashes, Rittenhouse shot and killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26-year-old Anthony Huber and wounded Gyge Grosskreutz, now 28.
During Monday’s closing arguments, Attorney Thomas Binger said that Rittenhouse was a “copycat soldier” who set in motion a deadly chain of events by bringing a rifle to a protest rally and pointing it at protesters shortly before he was pursued.
But Rittenhouse lawyer Mark Richards objected that the Rittenhouse had been ambushed by a “madman” – Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum pursued him and grabbed his rifle, making him fear that the weapon would be used against him. His account of Rosenbaum’s behavior was largely corroborated by video and some of the prosecution’s own witnesses.
As for Huber, he was shot after being seen hitting Rittenhouse on a skateboard in the video. And Grosskreutz admitted that his own pistol was pointed at Rittenhouse when he was shot.
In his instructions to the jury, Schroeder said that in order to accept Rittenhouse’s statement of self-defense, the jury must conclude that he believed there was an unlawful threat to him and that the force he used was reasonable and necessary.
Forliti reported from Minneapolis; Webber from Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributed from Madison, Wisconsin.
Check out AP’s full Rittenhouse survey review: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse