Following a dramatic day of testimony during which Kyle Rittenhouse—the Illinois teen accused of murdering two people and wounding a third during a violent demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin in August 2020—testified, Judge Bruce Schroeder suggested the trial could wrap up “by early next week,” as noted by CNN.
Thursday’s witnesses included Dr. John Black, described by Fox News as a “self-defense expert” who described video footage that is part of the evidence. Black was brought in by the defense and was expected to return to the stand later.
He was followed to the stand by Kenosha Officer Brittni Bray, who briefly described the function of an AR-15 semi-auto rifle.
The defense then called Frank “Drew” Hernandez, a self-described “professional commentator” who was an eyewitness to the events of Aug. 25, 2020 and had been recording what he saw with a body camera and cell phone. Prosecutor Thomas Binger raised an issue about a combination of videos from both the body cam and cell phone, which was delivered to the prosecution and defense by an attorney, in an effort to demonstrate what Binger suggested was bias.
But the testimony by Rittenhouse was the centerpiece of the week so far. He broke down once on the stand during questioning by his defense attorney, but it was while Binger was cross-examining Rittenhouse that Judge Schroeder sent the jury out and delivered a blistering admonishment to the prosecutor for making an issue of the defendant’s initial exercise of his 5th Amendment right to remain silent when he was interviewed by Kenosha police.
Rittenhouse’s defense team moved for a mistrial with prejudice, which would preclude charges from being re-filed. The judge said he would take the motion under advisement.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, asserted he feared for his life from the protesters. He said he had been threatened, and videos of that night’s events show him being attacked by an individual wielding a skateboard, another man kicking him and a third individual aiming a gun at his head at almost point-blank range. Those individuals were later identified as Anthony Huber, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz, respectively. Huber and Rosenbaum were killed and Grosskreutz was wounded in the arm.
Rittenhouse told the court he had been threatened with death twice by Rosenbaum. He said Huber struck him with a skateboard.
Under Wisconsin self-defense law, “A person is privileged to threaten or intentionally use force against another for the purpose of preventing or terminating what the person reasonably believes to be an unlawful interference with his or her person by such other person. The actor may intentionally use only such force or threat thereof as the actor reasonably believes is necessary to prevent or terminate the interference. The actor may not intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless the actor reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.”
Another section of the same law states, “A person who engages in unlawful conduct of a type likely to provoke others to attack him or her and thereby does provoke an attack is not entitled to claim the privilege of self-defense against such attack, except when the attack which ensues is of a type causing the person engaging in the unlawful conduct to reasonably believe that he or she is in imminent danger of death or great bodily harm. In such a case, the person engaging in the unlawful conduct is privileged to act in self-defense, but the person is not privileged to resort to the use of force intended or likely to cause death to the person’s assailant unless the person reasonably believes he or she has exhausted every other reasonable means to escape from or otherwise avoid death or great bodily harm at the hands of his or her assailant.”
Social media has been following the trial intensely, with many observers arguing Rittenhouse acted in self-defense in all three shootings, and should therefore be acquitted.
As reported by Conservative Firing Line, a recent Rasmussen survey shows more people identifying as Democrats want the teen convicted, while it appears Republicans and Independents are more inclined toward a not guilty verdict.