Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all counts in Kenosha shootings

Lead defense attorney 'very happy with the verdict'

KENOSHA, Wis. — A jury in Kenosha County has found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts in the shooting deaths of two men and the injuring of another during protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake last summer.

“We’re very happy with the verdict,” lead defense attorney Mark Richards said Friday afternoon. “We’re happy the jury took the time (and) put in an incredible amount of effort.”

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The jury deliberated for about three and a half days after receiving the case Tuesday morning. Both the prosecution and defense spent several hours Monday laying out their closing arguments.

As each verdict was read, Rittenhouse became more emotional. At one point, it appeared someone had to help him back into his chair. He also hugged one of his attorneys.

In his instructions to the jury before they began deliberations, Judge Bruce Schroeder said in order to accept Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense, they would have to find that he believed there was an unlawful threat to him, and that the amount of force he used was reasonable and necessary.

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Prosecutors argued Rittenhouse was the one to provoke the violence that night by bringing his AR-15 and pointing it at other people. Rittenhouse testified on the witness stand during the trial that he feared for his life and was acting in self-defense when he killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.

“You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you are the one creating the danger, when you’re the one provoking other people,” prosecutor Thomas Binger said during his closing argument.

Rittenhouse claimed in his testimony that Rosenbaum tried to grab the gun from him, that Huber hit him with a skateboard, and that Grosskreutz had a gun of his own.

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Binger showed drone video of Rittenhouse pointing his gun at protesters in the streets before the fatal shootings — a video that later came under dispute as the defense argued they received a lower-quality version, prompting calls for a mistrial from the defense.

During his closing argument, Binger also noted that Rittenhouse himself testified he knew Rosenbaum was not armed and noted video shows Rosenbaum was not within arm’s reach of the rifle when Rittenhouse fired the first shot.

The defense argued in their closing statements that Rittenhouse feared his gun would be wrestled away from him by the crowd.

“Mr. Rosenbaum was shot because he was chasing my client and going to kill him, take his gun and carry out the threats he made,” Richards argued for the defense during the trial.

“Every person who was shot was attacking Kyle,” Richards also argued. “One with a skateboard, one with his hands, and one with his feet, one with a gun. Hands and feet can cause great bodily harm.”

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The defense made several motions for a mistrial before the verdict, including some “with prejudice,” meaning Rittenhouse could not be retried. Another motion for a mistrial made Wednesday afternoon was without prejudice, meaning Rittenhouse could be put on trial again.

The mistrial motions became moot when the not guilty verdict came in, and the court accepted the jury’s verdict with prejudice, meaning he cannot be tried again.

The state’s criminal case is now over, and while prosecutors are calling for the Department of Justice to pick the case up at the federal level, experts have commented that seems unlikely. There is a possibility the victims’ families could file civil lawsuits.

Rittenhouse faced a life sentence if he was convicted of the most serious charge.

The trial lasted a total of 15 days, including jury selection on November 1 and four days of deliberations.

Rittenhouse himself has not commented on the ruling.

“Kyle is not here, he’s on his way home,” Richards told reporters in a press conference Friday after the verdict. “He wishes none of this would have ever happened.”

Crowd reacts

A few skirmishes occurred on the steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Friday, but journalists appeared to outnumber demonstrators both in support of Rittenhouse and those calling for him to be found guilty.

Ten to 20 people argued on either side of the issue on the steps throughout the day as vehicles drove by slowly, some with signs and some honking.

Caliph Muab-El, a minister and activist, spoke outside the courthouse after the verdict, calling on the federal government to step in.

“The (Department of Justice) needs to step in and take over this case and do things the right way,” he said. “The state got it wrong but the feds need to step in. Where is Joe Biden? Where is Kamala Harris? Where are these people that say they speak with the people for the people by the people, but they’re not stepping in, stepping up for the people when it counts?”

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Tavis Grant, a bishop and activist, also spoke, saying, “We’re going to continue to fight, but we’re going to continue to be peaceful and we’re going to continue to use our First Amendment right for freedom of speech and social justice. Let freedom ring.”

WATCH: TIMELINE: Key events in Rittenhouse trial