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Crime News Black Lives Matter

Jurors Hear Opening Statements In Trial of Kenosha Gunman Kyle Rittenhouse

The jury in the trial of teenager Kyle Rittenhouse, who is accused of killing two men and injuring another amid Black Lives Matter protests in August, heard opening statements on Tuesday.

By Constance Johnson
Kyle Rittenhouse Pleads Not Guilty To All Charges

After a swift selection process on Monday, jurors in Wisconsin heard opening statements today in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of intentional homicide in the deaths of two Black Lives Matter protesters in August. 

Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to all charges and claimed he acted in self-defense when he shot two men to death on the night of August 25. Prosecutors told the jury on Tuesday that the 18-year-old was the only one to kill another person on the streets of Kenosha that night. 

“The evidence will show that hundreds of people were out on the streets experiencing chaos and violence and the only person who killed anyone was the defendant Kyle Rittenhouse," Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger told jurors in his opening statement. “We will show you videos of some of the events that night of police, tear gas, rubber bullets, and yet the only person who killed anyone was the defendant.”  

Kyle Rittenhouse Ap

Rittenhouse is charged with five felonies, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. 

"He acted in self-defense, ladies and gentlemen," defense lawyer Mark Richards said. "The evidence will show his actions on Aug. 25, 2020 were reasonable under the circumstances as they existed.

“Ultimately, what this case will come down to — it isn’t a whodunit or when-did-it-happen, or anything like that. It is: Was Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions privileged under the law or self-defense,” he added.

The city of Kenosha erupted into chaos and sometimes violent protests after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man; Blake is now paralyzed from the waist down. Some protesters in Kenosha last summer clashed with police, set fires, which damaged or destroyed businesses.

On August 25, the third night of protests, Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-15 rifle on the streets of Kenosha after he had driven there from his home in Illinois. His defense attorney said that Rittenhouse only came to help people and protect businesses.

That night, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and 26-year-old Anthony Huber. He also injured Gaige Grosskreutz.

“Like moths to a flame, tourists from outside our community were drawn to the chaos here in Kenosha. People from outside Kenosha came in and contributed to the chaos,” Binger said. “The shot that killed Mr. Rosenbaum was a shot to the back. This occurred after the defendant chased down Mr. Rosenbaum and confronted him while wielding that AR-15.”

Both the prosecution and defense plan to use the extensive collection of videos from the night of the shooting to bolster their cases.

Richards showed jurors video and photos during his opening statement and said Rittenhouse had no other choice but to kill Rosenbaum and Huber and injure Grosskreutz.

"Kyle Rittenhouse is under no obligation whatsoever to retreat from Mr. Rosenbaum," Richards said. "He does. He runs away from him because he doesn’t want a confrontation. He doesn't want trouble."

Richards said Huber was swinging a skateboard at Rittenhouse, leaving him with no other option but to shoot at him. 

“Kyle Rittenhouse [is] flat on his back, in the most vulnerable position… Kyle’s afraid he is going to be disarmed and shot with his own weapon, the evidence will show. He fires one shot, striking Mr. Huber,” he told jurors.

A jury of 11 women and nine men were quickly selected on Monday out of a pool of 150 prospective jurors. They are all white except for one person of color, according to WISNAt the end of the trial, 12 will be chosen to hear the case and reach a verdict, according to the station.