As Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial draws to a close, all eyes are on jurors who will determine the teenager’s fate on multiple counts this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Judge Bruce Schroeder read the jury’s instructions to court on Monday after dismissing one of the charges against Mr Rittenhouse, possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18. He now faces five counts, all felonies. The final composition of the jury will be defined before a verdict is rendered.
On Tuesday, the judge placed slips of paper with numbers for each of the 18 potential jurors. In an unusual move, Mr. Rittenhouse was then commissioned to draw six of these scraps of paper. These jurors were removed from their duties, leaving 12 remaining jurors to deliberate on the case.
On Thursday evening, jurors deliberated for about 24 hours over three days.
Closing arguments took place on Monday and Judge Schroeder had asked both sides to keep it brief. The defense also has a motion to quash the trial with prejudice, which the judge said he would take under advisement. At the start of Monday’s hearing, Judge Schroeder said he was not yet ready to rule.
If that motion is dismissed, legal experts say it’s impossible to predict how long the jury will take to reach a verdict after considering evidence from eight days of testimony.
Lawyers for Mr Rittenhouse have argued that he acted in self-defense when he shot three men during racial justice protests against the police shooting against Jacob Blake in Kenosha on August 25, 2020. Two of the men, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, were killed and the third, Gaige Grosskreutz, was injured.
Mr Rittenhouse spoke on Wednesday and described how he feared for his life when the men attacked him. He said he did not intend to kill anyone but fired his AR-15 for protection.
Wisconsin’s Self-Defense Act permits the use of lethal force only if “necessary to prevent imminent death or grievous bodily harm.” Jurors will decide if Rittenhouse believed he was under this threat level and if that belief was reasonable.
The prosecution described Mr Rittenhouse as an instigator of the violence on the night of the shooting and claimed he was not legally allowed to wear his AR-15 as he was only 17 at the time.
Mr Rittenhouse faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges against him, including first degree reckless homicide, first degree intentional homicide, attempted first degree homicide degree.
Prosecutors asked the judge to allow the jury to consider lesser charges against Mr Rittenhouse for the charges involving the shooting of Mr Huber and Mr Grosskreutz, which would reduce the burden of proof for sentence. On Monday, the judge proposed to allow lesser charges on the fourth and fifth counts.
The Kenosha County Sheriff issued a “verdict readiness” statement last week, saying the trial is being closely watched as “we recognize that there are some competing opinions and feelings surrounding the trial that may cause concern.”
Chicago Police, about 65 miles south of Kenosha, are also preparing for unrest by canceling days off for all sworn personnel.
The Independent Gt