KENOSHA: A Kenosha County jury on Friday acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse of all charges against him, finding the teenage gunman acted in self-defence when he fatally shot two men and wounded a third.
A sobbing Rittenhouse, 18, collapsed after the five acquittals were read, as the families of the men he killed wept just a few feet away. Chanting from the crowd outside could be heard in the courtroom, though their words could not be discerned by even those closest to the windows.
“The jury has represented our community in this trial and has spoken,” Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said.
Rittenhouse and his relatives left the courthouse immediately after the verdict with a law enforcement escort. The families of the men he killed — Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber — also left under the protection of local deputies.
“Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son,” Huber’s parents, John Huber and Karen Bloom, said in a statement. “It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street. We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system.”
Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum and Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz while ostensibly guarding a used car lot with an AR-15-style rifle in downtown Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020. All four men were in the southeast Wisconsin town amid social unrest following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer.
The teen’s attorney, Mark Richards, said he hopes Rittenhouse keeps a low profile following the verdict. He has been taking online courses through a nondegree program offered by Arizona State University in hopes of becoming a nurse.
Richards said the defence took an all-or-nothing approach to the case.
“There was no middle ground in this case. We never once approached the district attorney’s office regarding a plea agreement,” he said. “They never once called us to offer one. It was a war, and in the end we came out on top.”
The verdict will add, perhaps, the final chapter to a criminal case that deeply divided a country already polarized on issues such as gun rights and racial equity. The intense polarization, however, will remain.
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