KENOSHA, Wisc. – After an emotional day of testimony and a call for a mistrial in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial, his defense attorneys will call more witnesses to the stand Thursday to build their self-defense case.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with killing two people and wounding a third during violent protests in August 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man.
Rittenhouse testified Wednesday, at times breaking down in tears, as he recounted the events leading up to the shootings and how he said he feared for his life.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself,” Rittenhouse said.
After questioning from prosecutor Thomas Binger, Rittenhouse’s attorneys also asked for a mistrial with prejudice Wednesday. Judge Bruce Schroeder said he would rule later, allowing Binger time to respond and cite case law.
The Illinois teenager, who was 17 when he traveled to Kenosha and agreed to help a friend protect a car business following nights of protest, fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. He wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.
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Answering questions from his attorneys, Rittenhouse said he felt cornered as Rosenbaum chased him and grabbed his rifle. After shooting him, Rittenhouse said “a mob” followed him and he was struck by a skateboard and a rock. He shot Huber after being hit a second time with the skateboard, and then shot Grosskreutz after he approached him with a pistol.
Previous testimony had corroborated many of the details Rittenhouse laid out, and even the state’s witnesses did little to undermine the defense’s claims.
During cross-examination Wednesday, Rittenhouse said he used deadly force but did so only to prevent the men from attacking him.
Binger harped on why Rittenhouse believed he needed an AR-15 that night and the amount of risk he perceived in the crowd.
However, some lines of Binger’s questioning drew sharp criticism from Schroeder and prompted the motion for a mistrial with prejudice, which would prevent Rittenhouse from being tried again.
Binger noted on how Rittenhouse’s testimony was his first time sharing his “side of the story” and suggested Rittenhouse may be tailoring his testimony to previous videos, witness statements and media coverage. Defense attorney Mark Richards objected to the remarks, saying it’s Rittenhouse’s right to remain silent and the prosecutor shouldn’t comment on that right.
Later, Binger sought to bring up a video from 15 days before the shooting in which Rittenhouse said of CVS shoplifters: “I wish I had my AR, I’d fire some rounds at them.”
Binger had previously tried to introduce it as evidence, but Schroeder said he was leaning toward not allowing it. After Schroeder sent the jury out of the courtroom, he berated Binger for bringing it up.
“Don’t get brazen with me!” Schroeder yelled as he told Binger not to continue the line of questioning. At a later point, Binger apologized and said he had brought it up in “good faith,” thinking Schroeder’s ruling had left the door open for it to be introduced if the evidence led to it. Schroeder replied: “I don’t believe you.”
The emotional day of trial came after days of testimony from police officers, other witnesses, the owner of the car lot and Grosskreutz. Jurors have seen photo and videos from the scene, as well as demonstrations with Rittenhouse’s rifle.
Rittenhouse is also charged with reckless endangerment, curfew violation and possessing a firearm as a minor.