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Monday, August 8, 2022

In the closing arguments of the Rittenhouse Trial, the attorneys present opposing narratives

In his final statement in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial on Monday, the prosecution acknowledged that the case had been tainted by political considerations, by frenzied media coverage, by indignation and outrage on all sides of the political spectrum.

During his own closing statement, defence attorney Mark Richards reiterated the opinion expressed by the jury.

The jury will begin deliberating on Mr. Rittenhouse’s fate on Tuesday. He is charged of first-degree intentional murder and four other crimes in the shooting deaths of three men in the wake of demonstrations in 2020, as well as four other offences. The panel of Kenosha County citizens sat attentively throughout the morning and afternoon on Monday, just as they had done for the previous two weeks of testimony. Lawyers offered opposing narratives, and the group listened closely.

Many jurors grimaced and turned their heads away as gruesome photos of the two men who died and a third guy who was wounded were shown on television screens. As the final arguments carried on into the late afternoon, they seemed to be becoming exhausted, and at one point, the sound of chanting from a small gathering of protestors outside could be heard from within the courtroom as well.

Mr. Binger attempted to persuade the jury, over the course of a two-hour closing argument, that Mr. Rittenhouse had acted in an uninformed and irresponsible manner, which resulted in the deaths of two persons and the maiming of another.

Mr. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, showed up in downtown Kenosha with a pistol that he was not legally allowed to possess, according to Mr. Binger. According to the prosecution, he lied about his medical qualifications, claiming to be an E.M.T. when he was not in fact one. Moreover, Mr. Binger said that when Mr. Rittenhouse was pursued into a parking lot, he shot the guy, Joseph Rosenbaum, four times – an unnecessary move that took the life of Mr. Rosenbaum, who was unarmed.

On Aug. 25, 2020, the third night of demonstrations over a police shooting in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Mr. Richards, the defence attorney, explained the events that transpired. Mr. Richards often referred to Mr. Rittenhouse by his first name, claiming that the defendant had shot his weapon solely because he felt intimidated by others in the audience, starting with Mr. Rosenbaum, throughout his testimony.

On the day of the shootings, Mr. Rittenhouse proceeded to downtown Kenosha, which had erupted in demonstrations that included looting and burning after the murder of Jacob Blake, a Black local, by a white police officer, Rusten Sheskey. He claims he went to Kenosha in order to safeguard property and offer medical care, but things rapidly became violent as someone in the vicinity of Mr. Rittenhouse fired a pistol at him.

The day of closing arguments began with a packed courtroom full of spectators, becoming the first in the 11-day trial that every seat in the courtroom had been filled up by the same group of people. In the same row as Mr. Rosenbaum’s fiancée, Hannah Gittings, the girlfriend of Anthony Huber, the second man who was shot and murdered by Mr. Rittenhouse, sat next to Mr. Huber’s friend, Kariann Swart. The mother of Mr. Rittenhouse sat in the courtroom with her two kids, as she had done for the last many months in her normal spot.

Mr. Rittenhouse’s attorneys and Judge Bruce Schroeder of the Kenosha County Circuit Court argued about the text of extensive jury instructions on six felony offences that Mr. Rittenhouse had initially been charged with. According to the court, the least severe of the allegations, unlawfully having a deadly weapon as a child in violation of state law, was dropped. Wisconsin is an open carry state, which means that it is lawful for adults to openly carry weapons. However, under Wisconsin law, children are not permitted to own firearms, except in very restricted situations.

Following the prosecution’s victory, the judge instructed jurors to examine a number of less severe accusations in addition to the most serious offences they had been asked to consider. Providing juries with instructions on lesser accusations may be essential, according to legal experts, since the lower counts might provide jurors with a route to compromise if they disagree on the most severe acts alleged.

With each passing hour of the day, Judge Schroeder read 36 pages of jury instructions aloud to the jurors, including several allusions to the conclusions the jurors must reach on the topic of self-defense. The instructions emphasised the difficult nature of the case, as well as the many considerations and complexities of the law that jurors must take into account.

In his statement, Mr. Richards said that the group chasing Mr. Rittenhouse, which included those who pursued him after the initial gunshot, was a “mob” with the intent of causing him damage.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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