Rittenhouse jury could consider lesser charges, whether he was aggressor

Kyle Rittenhouse, now 18, faces six charges, including three homicide-related ones, from the night he shot three protesters, killing two.

Jurors in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse — who traveled armed from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha, Wisconsin, during protests following the police shooting of Black resident Jacob Blake and ultimately shot three people, killing two — will soon head to deliberations. 

Rittenhouse is facing six charges, including three homicide-related charges: first-degree reckless homicide for killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36; first-degree intentional homicide for killing Anthony Huber, 26; and first-degree attempted intentional homicide for shooting 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, per NPR.

(From left) Judge Bruce Schroeder, defendant Kyle Rittenhouse and Rittenhouse’s attorney Mark Richards watch an evidence video in question during proceedings Friday at the Kenosha County Courthouse. (Photo: Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

Judge Bruce Schroeder gave tentative rulings as he hashed out jury instructions on Friday with attorneys for the defense and prosecution. The jury had been sent home for a three-day weekend before closing arguments, which will begin Monday. 

According to The Washington Post, Schroeder gave instructions for jurors to consider two lesser charges in the count of first-degree intentional homicide related to Huber’s death. The judge also decided to include a jury instruction on whether or not Rittenhouse provoked the attack against Rosenbaum. 

“The existence of a provocation during an instruction is really going to lead the prosecution to hit that narrative hard,” Tom Grieve, a Milwaukee-based criminal defense attorney, told The Post. That jury instruction will allow the prosecution to counter Rittenhouse’s argument of self-defense on Aug. 25, 2020, the night the then-17-year-old defendant killed two people, seriously wounded another and threatened a fourth. 

In the courtroom on Friday, Schroeder explained what allowing lesser charges could mean to Rittenhouse. 

“By having a lesser offense included, you’re raising the risk of conviction,” the judge explained to the teenager. “And you’re also decreasing the risk that you’ll end up with a second trial because the jury is unable to agree.”

Schroeder, 75, has been accused of showing bias toward Rittenhouse. He also referred to himself as a “dinosaur” when it comes to technology in a case that featured extensive video evidence. 

Per The Post, at one point, Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney James Kraus said, “All due respect to your honor, I think the defense is trying to take advantage of your lack of knowledge about technology, which you’ve expressed,” as the judge deliberated on whether an enlarged picture could be admitted into evidence. 

Rittenhouse testified in his own defense on Wednesday in the highly divisive trial, and at one point, he appeared to start crying on the stand. His emotional reaction went viral, and many accused him of playing to the jury. 

Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James was one of many who, on Twitter, shared his take on the crying episode, retweeting a clip from USA Today captioned, “Kyle Rittenhouse broke down in tears at his murder trial while on the witness stand as he described the events of Aug. 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin.”

As previously reported, James responded to the clip with, “What tears????? I didn’t see one. Man knock it off! That boy ate some lemon heads before walking into court,” adding crying-laughing emojis.

Others noted that Rittenhouse may now have PTSD, an argument his defense has put forth. 

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