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Kyle Rittenhouse: Gunned teenager who shot dead two men at Wisconsin protest clears murder |  US News

An American teenager has been found not guilty of the murder of two men and the attempted murder of a third during a demonstration in Wisconsin.

Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, had pleaded in self-defense against the shootings in Kenosha town in August 2020.

The fatal incident occurred during protests sparked by the shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, who was injured by a white policeman days earlier.

Rittenhouse was cleared of all charges, including reckless endangerment of security. Upon reading the verdicts, he burst into tears, while the jurors remained stoic and unemotional.

Live reaction as Rittenhouse acquitted

The case has divided the United States, and the verdicts outside the courthouse have generated great interest.

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“Kyle wants to go on with his life”

Circuit judge Bruce Schroeder fired the jurors and assured them the court would take “all steps” to keep them safe.

A sheriff’s deputy led Rittenhouse out through a back door through the judge’s office.

Relatives of the three slain men held hands and cried.

Outside the courthouse, there was a heavy police presence, as several dozen protesters carried placards supporting or condemning the teenager.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, had come from neighboring Illinois.

Kyle Rittenhouse: Gunned teenager who shot dead two men at Wisconsin protest clears murder |  US News
Kariann Swart, Joseph Rosenbaum’s fiancée; Susan Hughes, Anthony Huber’s great aunt; and Hannah Gittings, Anthony Huber’s girlfriend, reacted to the verdicts. Photo: AP

He claimed in court that a local business owner asked him to help protect the community.

The 12-person jury was selected from a larger group of 18 who had listened to the testimony for two weeks.

In an unusual move, marking the start of a suspenseful and dramatic trial, Rittenhouse himself was asked to select the jurors by drawing six pieces of paper with their names on top of a lottery cup – a task typically performed by a court clerk.

The six jurors he selected were appointed as substitute jurors while the other 12 became deliberating jurors.

The jury had been asked to consider two largely contradictory accounts which led to the murder of the three men.

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August 2020: gunshots during protests in Wisconsin kill two

The prosecution had argued that Rittenhouse was an “aspiring soldier” and vigilante who surrendered to Kenosha, determined to stir up trouble at the protest.

Prosecutor Thomas Binger had argued the teenager set off a chain of deadly events by bringing a legally detained AR15 automatic rifle to a protest, walking around like “a hero in a western” and “looking for trouble” .

After the verdict, Mr Binger said the jury had spoken.

During the protest, Rittenhouse first shot at Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, who was unarmed.

Kyle Rittenhouse: Gunned teenager who shot dead two men at Wisconsin protest clears murder |  US News
Prosecutors alleged Kyle Rittenhouse ‘was looking for trouble’

He then shot 26-year-old Anthony Huber, who had hit the accused with a skateboard. He was also killed.

The third man to be shot, Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, carried a pistol.

He was injured and testified for the prosecution.

The court saw footage of a drone which the prosecution said showed the accused pointing his gun at people.

“It’s provocation,” pleaded the Advocate General. “That’s what triggers this incident.”

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August 2020: Rittenhouse before the shooting of Kenosha

Rittenhouse defense attorney Mark Richards argued his client was acting in self-defense after being attacked during the protest.

Mr Richards said Rittenhouse traveled to town to act as a doctor and protect property.

The defense had called the first of Rittenhouse’s targets “crazy”.

Mr. Richards alleged that Mr. Rosenbaum ambushed the accused who feared his rifle would be taken from him and used against him.

Sometimes during procedures, Rittenhouse burst into tears as he gave his own testimony.

Mr Huber’s parents, Karen Bloom and John Huber, said after the verdicts they were “heartbroken and angry”.

“Today’s verdict means that there is no responsibility for the person who murdered our son.

“It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any city, incite violence, and then use the danger they created to justify shooting people in the streets.

“We hope that honest people will join us in strongly rejecting this message and demanding more of our laws, our officials and our justice system.”

Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy, had gasped with joy when the verdicts were read, later crying and hugging those around her.

Kyle Rittenhouse: Gunned teenager who shot dead two men at Wisconsin protest clears murder |  US News
Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy and sisters McKenzie and Faith
Kyle Rittenhouse: Gunned teenager who shot dead two men at Wisconsin protest clears murder |  US News
Wendy Rittenhouse cried upon hearing the verdicts. Photo: AP

David Hancock, spokesperson for the Rittenhouse family, said: “We are all very happy that Kyle can live his life as a free and innocent man, but in this whole situation there are no winners – there are has two people who lost their lives and it’s
not at all lost on us. “

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and CEO Derrick Johnson wrote on Twitter that the verdict “is a reminder of the treacherous role white supremacy and privilege play in our justice system.”

Also on Twitter, the National Rifle Association wrote: “A well-regulated militia, being necessary for the security of a free state, the right of the people to own and bear arms, must not be violated. “

Black Voters Matter wrote: “Disappointed but not surprised. This is not justice, it is not responsibility. However, this is America.”

US President Joe Biden said: “While Kenosha’s verdict will leave many Americans angry and concerned, including me, we have to acknowledge that the jury has spoken.

“I ran on the promise to bring Americans together because I believe that what unites us is greater than what divides us.

“I know we are not going to heal the wounds of our country overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, fairly, and dignity, under the law. “

He added: “I urge everyone to express their views peacefully, in accordance with the rule of law.

“Violence and destruction of property have no place in our democracy.

“The White House and federal authorities have been in contact with Governor Evers’ office to prepare for any outcome in this matter, and I spoke with the Governor this afternoon and offered him support and all the assistance necessary to ensure public safety. “

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said: “No verdict can bring back the lives of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, or heal the wounds of Gaige Grosskreutz, just as no verdict can heal the wounds or trauma suffered by Jacob. Blake and his family.

“No decision today changes our reality in Wisconsin that we have work to do for the fairness, accountability and justice that communities in our state demand and deserve.”

He called on all protesters to make their voices heard “safely and peacefully”.

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Kenosha shooting victim details his injuries

About 500 members of the Wisconsin National Guard have been placed on hold at an undisclosed location 60 miles outside of town to move in on the governor’s orders.

Units will only be deployed if the local city police ask for their help. Their role will be limited to protecting places considered to be critical infrastructures and cultural institutions.

Residents of the city are nervous after experiencing significant unrest last summer following the shooting by the police of Jacob Blake, 29.

The shooting – one of several last year by police against the black community – has sparked widespread protests in Kenosha.

In his final instructions to the jurors, Judge Bruce Schroeder explained that in order to accept Rittenhouse’s request for self-defense, they must accept that he believed there was an illegal threat against him and that the force he used was “reasonable and necessary”.

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