Rittenhouse takes position on a risky play by the defense

Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand in his murder trial Wednesday after fatally shooting two people and wounding another during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer, a risky defense move that sometimes featured emotional testimony from the now 18 years old.

Rittenhouse, who said he fired his AR-15 in self-defense, faces six criminal charges in connection with the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the injury of Gaige Grosskreutz, 26: intentional homicide in first degree, attempted first degree murder, reckless first degree murder, two counts of reckless danger, and illegal possession of a firearm as a minor.

He was wandering the streets of Kenosha on August 25, where riots were raging in the wake of the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old black man, two nights earlier.

Rittenhouse tried to argue from the stand that he opened fire on Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz to protect himself from potential violence.

When asked by Deputy District Attorney Thomas Binger during cross-examination what the “risk of death or serious bodily harm to you” was at the time he shot Rosenbaum, the first man he killed that night, Rittenhouse said he thought that Rosenbaum was trying to take his firearm to kill him and others.

“If I had let Mr. Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably would have killed more people if I had let him take my gun,” she said.

“If he had taken my gun, he would have used it against me,” Rittenhouse added later.

The witnesses seemed to hold back tears during the lengthy exchange.

Earlier in the day’s testimony, Rittenhouse told the jury that “I did not intend to kill them, I intended to stop the people who were attacking me. “

Pressed on whether he was trying to stop the people attacking him by killing them, Rittenhouse said: “Two of them died, but I stopped the threat of attacking me.”

He later agreed with the prosecutor that he intentionally used deadly force against the three men he shot that night, but again turned the conversation to self-defense.

“I didn’t know if I was going to kill them, but I used deadly force to stop the threat attacking me,” Rittenhouse said.

The teenager testified that he initially decided to travel to Kenosha to help protect businesses and clean up graffiti throughout the city. He said he ended up joining a group of other armed individuals who walked the streets that night offering medical care to other civilians and protecting local establishments from rioters.

He said he brought his AR-15 with him “to protect me” in case someone attacked him.

Rittenhouse told his defense attorney earlier that day that he was not “looking for trouble” when traveling to Kenosha, adding “I did nothing wrong. I defended myself “.

Perhaps the most notable moment of Rittenhouse’s time on the stand Wednesday, however, was when he burst into tears during the questioning of defense attorney Mark Richards about the events that led to him shooting Rosenbaum.

He described Rosenbaum chasing him on the right side as he was heading to the parking lot of a car when he saw another protester, Joshua Ziminski, in front of him.

“There were three people right there,” Rittenhouse said, sobbing aloud.

Judge Bruce Schroeder requested a brief recess, after which Rittenhouse returned to the composite stand.

Tense disputes between Schroeder and the prosecution when the jury was out of the courtroom also made headlines Wednesday, prompting the defense to request that the trial be vacated with prejudice.

Schroeder admonished Binger twice, the first time after he began questioning Rittenhouse about why he chose to remain silent about the incident until the trial, which the judge called a constitutional violation.

“The problem is that this is a serious constitutional violation for me to speak about the defendant’s silence,” Schroder said. “You are right on the edge, and you may have exceeded it. But you better stop. “

The two clashed again later in Binger’s cross-examination when the prosecutor appeared to question Rittenhouse in front of the jury on a matter that Schroeder previously said would not be allowed in the courtroom.

After Richards raised the issue, who threatened to request a mistrial, Binger apologized for the line of questioning and noted that he must have misunderstood the judge’s decision.

However, Schroeder, who reportedly has a reputation for overseeing a structured courtroom, scolded the prosecutor.

“Don’t be cheeky with me,” the judge said. “You knew very well that lawyers cannot enter these types of areas when the judge has already ruled without asking outside the jury to do so. So don’t give me that.”

The judge’s warning did not appease the defense, who after a lunch break asked Schroeder to declare the trial null.

Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi charged Binger with “amounting to tax overreach” for his earlier lines of questioning that Schroeder rejected.

The judge said he would take the motion “under notice” before resuming the process.

“It is better that there is no other incident,” he added.

The tense day of questioning ended just before 6 p.m. local time, and Schroeder predicted that the trial could conclude on Monday or Tuesday.


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