US Jury Finds Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty in Homicide Trial

A US jury found Kyle Rittenhouse, a teenager who killed two people and injured another during Wisconsin riots last summer, not guilty on all charges.

The verdict came after a tumultuous two-week homicide trial, in which the now 18-year-old took the stand and said he had shot the men in self-defense. “I did not do anything wrong. I defended myself,” he testified.

Rittenhouse was 17 when he killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, after opening fire on protesters with an assault rifle on Kenosha, Wisconsin. The shooting, where the young man also wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, was reported on August 25, 2020, amid protests over the Jacob Blake shooting by a white police officer.

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

Jurors also considered lesser offenses in two counts, including a misdemeanor count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person aged under 18. However, Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed it after defense attorneys argued that Rittenhouse could be cleared under a hunting exemption to the state’s law prohibiting firearms sale to minors.

The youngster repeatedly pleaded not guilty to all charges, arguing that he had opened fire against protesters in self-defense since they allegedly tried to attack him.

Media reported that a crowd had chased the teenager, who fatally shot a man who tried to kick him.

Rosenbaum, one of the victims, was allegedly pursuing Rittenhouse and threw a plastic bag at him before trying to flee. Huber reportedly hit him with a skateboard, and Grosskreutz was armed with a pistol, sources said.

Over six days, prosecutors called 22 witnesses in an attempt to prove that the young gunman had provoked Rosenbaum by pointing the rifle at him. Also, they said that the other victims had been “heroes,” as they tried to stop the teenager in what they believed to be an active shooting.

But the defense dismissed the charges, saying Rittenhouse had shot the men because he feared for his life.

The verdict has sparked demonstrations and an online debate between those celebrating the jury’s decision and those who describe it as an injustice. The US president Joe Biden said he was “angry and concerned” after Rittenhouse was found not guilty, but stated he supported and respected the jury system.