As the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse entered its final phase in a Wisconsin courtroom this week, the presiding judge threw out one of the charges against the teenager and later told the jury “you will pay no heed to the opinions of anyone” as they prepared to begin deliberations on homicide charges against the teenager.
On Monday, Nov. 15, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed one misdemeanor count of illegal possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, undermining the case being prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger and James Kraus.
Following the August 2020 shooting by Kenosha police officer Rusten Sheskey that left Jacob Blake paralyzed, the streets of Kenosha, Wisconsin, were in a state of civil unrest over the incident that many saw as the latest provocation in a summer of outrages from police against African-Americans.
During a night of demonstrations in downtown Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, a then-17-year-old Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and wounded a third man
Rittenhouse is charged with intentional homicide in the Huber’s slaying and reckless homicide in Rosenbaum’s death.
The prosecution submitted that the minor, who crossed state lines from Illinois, was not legally old enough to carry the firearm, and thus that information should be included for the jury when deciding their ruling.
He dismissed the misdemeanor weapons charge, which could have resulted in the now-18-year-old Rittenhouse getting nine months in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Despite this setback, the prosecution put on a forceful closing argument on Monday.
Binder said during his remarks to the jury, “So consider, for example, whether or not it’s heroic or honorable to provoke and shoot unarmed people.”
“They enjoy the thrill of going around and telling people what to do,” he continued. “Without the courage or the honor to back it up and without the legal authority to do so.”
He also said, “You lose your right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun.”
One of the most dramatic displays from the prosecutor was when he played a video of Rittenhouse carrying a fire extinguisher on the night of the killings, putting down the device, picking up his AR-15-style weapon and aiming it at the crowd.
NBC News reported that he dramatically “recreated the scene for jurors,” completely pulling out the gun used that night. He raised it in the same fire position that the accused did when killing his victims on that fatal night.
Judge Schroeder silently watched the display without commentary. Monday’s proceedings ended with both sides giving their closing arguments, the prosecutors delivering a rebuttal to the defense closing argument, and Schroeder offering a final set of directions to the jury, which begins deliberations Tuesday morning. The city of Kenosha is currently preparing for possible unrest pending the outcome of the trial.
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