Kyle Rittenhouse is innocent. We knew that anyway, but the simple fact of something being true in no way guarantees that the legal system will recognise it. In this case, we are fortunate that law and reality have decided to agree with one another. Kyle Rittenhouse is innocent, but the state remains on trial.
Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager who killed two people and shot another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was acquitted Friday of first-degree intentional homicide and four other felony charges.
Rittenhouse, wearing a dark jacket with a burgundy tie and shirt, stood behind the defense table as each not guilty verdict was read. He tried to hold back tears, then sobbed and appeared to collapse forward on the table, where he was held by one of his lawyers.
The panel of five men and seven women deliberated more than 25 hours over the past four days in a closely watched case that polarized an already divided nation.
They had asked the court a handful of questions, including requests Wednesday to rewatch much of the video evidence of the shootings. In the end, the panel agreed with the defendant's testimony that he feared for his life and acted in self-defense.
The judge praised the jury, saying he "couldn't have asked for a better jury."
After the verdict was announced, lead prosecutor Thomas Binger told the court, "The jury has represented our community in this trial and has spoken."
One of the videos the jury asked to rewatch - a drone video showing Rittenhouse shooting Joseph Rosenbaum - was at the heart of a defense request for a mistrial in the case.
The deliberations come after a two-week trial highlighted by emotional and compelling testimony from Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old at the center of debates around self-defense, gun ownership and Black Lives Matter demonstrations. On the stand, he told jurors -- and the viewing public -- that he acted in self-defense.
"I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself," he testified.
Rittenhouse was charged with five felonies: first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Jurors are also able to consider lesser offenses for two of the five counts. If convicted on the most serious charge, Rittenhouse faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a misdemeanor weapons possession charge and a non-criminal curfew violation prior to deliberations.
The charges stem from the chaotic unrest last year in the wake of the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man. After instances of rioting and fiery destruction, Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, took a medical kit and an AR-15-style rifle and joined up with a group of other armed people in Kenosha on August 25, 2020.
There, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum - who was chasing the teenager and threw a bag at him - and then tried to flee. A crowd of people pursued the teenager, and Rittenhouse shot at an unidentified man who kicked him; fatally shot Anthony Huber, who had hit him with a skateboard; and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, who was armed with a pistol.
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