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After more than 25 hours of deliberations, a 12-person jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all five charges he faced after fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer.
Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, were killed, and Gaige Grosskreutz, now 27, was wounded. Rittenhouse was charged with five felonies: first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.The two-week trial — which captured America’s attention and was in many ways emblematic of the divided nation — featured testimony from more than 30 witnesses, including Rittenhouse himself, video clips from the night of the shootings and heated exchanges between the attorneys and the judge.And while the jury’s decision drew harsh criticism from the victims’ loved ones, legal experts say they were not surprised by the verdict.These were the factors experts said helped lead to Rittenhouse’s acquittal.Rittenhouse’s testimony was keyAmong the trial’s most key moments was the testimony from Rittenhouse, who told the court he acted in self-defense when he shot Rosenbaum, who he said threatened him earlier, chased him, threw a bag at him and lunged for his gun. At one point, 18-year-old Rittenhouse broke down in tears while on the stand.“If I would have let Mr. Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people,” he testified.Rittenhouse referred to the other people he shot at as part of a “mob” chasing him, telling the court Huber came at him, struck him with a skateboard, and grabbed his gun. Rittenhouse shot him once in the chest, killing him. Finally, he said he saw Grosskreutz lunge at him and point a pistol at his head, so Rittenhouse shot him, he testified.Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all charges in Kenosha shootingsKyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all charges in Kenosha shootingsDefense attorney Mark Richards told reporters Friday in his mind, ‘it wasn’t a close call’ whether to put Rittenhouse on the stand.“We had a mock jury and we did two different juries, one with him testifying and one without him testifying. It was substantially better when he testified… and that sealed it,” Richards said. “If you don’t put a client on the stand, you’re going to lose, period.”His testimony was key for several reasons, according to legal experts.“Number one, you humanize him… More important, number two, he explained his uses of force,” CNN legal analyst Joey Jackson said.Rittenhouse’s testimony gave jurors the ability to hear what he thought at the time and whether he believed he was in danger — a claim the prosecution, ultimately failed to undermine, former federal prosecutor Elie Honig said.“They (prosecutors) pointed out some sort of minor inconsistencies and things he said on the night of, and said later, but nothing that undermines sort of the core defense argument, which was, he was attacked,” Honig told CNN’s Alisyn Camerota on Friday. “Every time he shot, he was attacked.”“The prosecution did not make enough of a dent in Kyle Rittenhouse,” Honig added.Rittenhouse breaks down after being found not guilty on all charges
Rittenhouse breaks down after being found not guilty on all charges 01:31State did not prove Rittenhouse provoked violenceWhat the trial came down to, according to civil rights attorney Charles F. Coleman Jr. were two competing narratives: one of Rittenhouse being a victim who was attacked, and one of being a vigilante who provoked the violence.“The jury bought the narrative of Kyle Rittenhouse being a victim, they thought that his self-defense claim was a lot stronger than the prosecution’s provocation claim,” he said.Will Rittenhouse self-defense claim convince jury?
Will Rittenhouse self-defense claim convince jury? 06:32Wisconsin law allows the use of deadly force only if “necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm.” And because Rittenhouse’s attorneys claimed self-defense, state law meant the burden fell on prosecutors to disprove Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt.
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