Prosecutors in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial pushed on Friday for the jury to be able to consider some lesser charges after acknowledging the teen could be acquitted of the most serious charge he’s facing.
The judge agreed that the jury deciding Rittenhouse’s fate could weigh the lesser charges — in addition to those prosecutors originally brought against him — following fierce debate by both sides.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney James Kraus sought a “multitude of lesser charges” after saying “a reasonable jury or juror” may acquit the teen in the wake of testimony and evidence during the trial that bolstered Rittenhouse’s self-defense argument.
Both sides spent Friday debating over how jurors will be instructed when they start deliberating after closing arguments on Monday.
Judge Bruce Schroeder said he would issue a ruling Saturday on what to allow in terms of lesser charges.
Rittenhouse is charged with shooting dead Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injuring of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, the night of Aug. 25, 2020.
The teen faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide — which carries a mandatory life sentence — in the killing of Huber, who was shot after striking Rittenhouse with a skateboard.
Defense attorneys didn’t object to allowing the jury to consider the lesser counts of second-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide in relation to Huber.
They did object, however, to adding a charge of second-degree reckless homicide — an argument the judge said he “embraced.”
The teen also faces one count of first-degree reckless homicide in relation to Rosenbaum, who was the first person he shot after Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse into a used car lot.
Prosecutors had sought to add a second-degree reckless homicide charge, which would not require prosecutors to prove that Rittenhouse had shown an utter disregard for human life.
The judge, however, said he was unlikely to let the jury consider the lesser charge following objections from the defense.
At one point, the judge addressed Rittenhouse directly, telling him that by having the lesser charges included “you’re raising the risk of conviction, although you’re avoiding the possibility that the jury will end up compromising on the more serious crime. And you’re also decreasing the risk that you’ll end up with a second trial because the jury is unable to agree.”
The teenager said he understood.
The judge also said the jury would be able to consider the prosecution’s argument that the teen provoked an encounter with Rosenbaum, which paves the way for them to argue Rittenhouse was the instigator of the bloodshed.
That ruling was only made after the judge lost his temper with prosecutors as the two sides debated an image the DA said was “proof.”
“You’re asking me to give an instruction. I want to see the best picture,” the judge shouted.
Prosecutors then showed grainy drone video of Rittenhouse shooting Rosenbaum, arguing that Rittenhouse raised his gun shortly before the deadly encounter and initiated the confrontation.
Schroeder stepped down from the bench at one point to examine the video on a larger TV as Rittenhouse stood behind him watching on.
“It’s the jury’s case and I think they should make the critical decisions,” he said.
“My decision will be to submit the case to the jury with the provocation instruction and you can argue the strength or lack of strength of the evidence.”
Rittenhouse has argued he was defending himself from attack when he killed the two men and injured the third.
After closing arguments on Monday, jurors’ names will then be drawn to decide which 12 of the 18 jurors will deliberate and which ones will be dismissed as alternates.
With Post wires
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