Closing arguments conclude in Kyle Rittenhouse trial

By Mike Hayes, Josiah Ryan, Melissa Mahtani, Melissa Macaya and Meg Wagner, CNN

Updated 10:44 a.m. ET, November 16, 2021
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3:41 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Defense accuses prosecution of "lying" that Rittenhouse provoked violence in Kenosha

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Defense attorney Mark Richards is delivering his closing argument at the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.

Richards began his remarks by telling the jury that the prosecutor Thomas Binger is "lying" and "misrepresenting" the evidence when he tells them that the defendant provoked the violence on the night of August 25, 2020.

Richards said Rittenhouse "was taking off" when shooting victim Joseph Rosenbaum and others started chasing him.

The defense team will have 2.5 hours total to deliver their closing remarks.

3:15 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Court takes a break before defense starts closing arguments

The court is in a short break.

Prosecutor Thomas Binger finished his closing argument by telling the jury that Kyle Rittenhouse is guilty on all counts.

The defense will make their closing arguments when court is back in session.

3:21 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Prosecution wraps up closing argument by telling jury that Rittenhouse is "guilty of all counts"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger gives his closing argument in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Monday.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger gives his closing argument in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Monday. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News/Pool/AP)

Prosecutor Thomas Binger finished his closing argument by telling the jury that Rittenhouse is guilty on all counts.

The assistant DA told the jury that when they deliberate, they should put themselves in the defendant's position and ask themselves: "Would you have done the same thing?"

"The reasonableness of the defendant's beliefs must be determined from the standpoint of the defendant at the time of the defendant's acts, and not from the viewpoint of the jury now. So put yourself in the defendant's position. Would you have done the same thing? Would a reasonable person have done the same thing? Would you have engaged in the reckless conduct that led to this course of events. Would you have gone out after curfew with an AR-15 looking for trouble? Would you have tried to use the gun to protect an empty car lot? No reasonable person would have done these things."

Binger said that a person who shoots someone "cannot hide behind self-defense, if you provoked the incident." Earlier in his closing argument, the prosecutor argued that it was Kyle Rittenhouse the provoked the violence when, for instance, he shot Joseph Rosenbaum who he claimed was chasing him.

"If you created the danger, you forfeited the right to self-defense, by bringing that gun, aiming at people, threatening people's lives, the defendant provoked everything. And if he does that, he has to exhaust all reasonable means to avoid a confrontation," Binger said. 

The prosecutor closed his presentation by telling the jury that "there is no doubt in this case that the defendant committed these crimes." 

"He committed a first-degree reckless homicide against Joseph Rosenbaum. He put Richie McGinniss's life in jeopardy. He put jump-kick man's life in jeopardy. He intended to kill Anthony Huber, and he attempted to kill Gaige Grosskreutz, all of those elements are true. The question is whether or not you believe that his actions were legally justified. And I submit to you that no reasonable person would have done what the defendant did. And that makes your decision easy. He's guilty of all counts. Thank you."

After a break, the defense will begin its closing argument in the case.

 

2:46 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Prosecutor says Kyle Rittenhouse lied about being a certified EMT: "He's like a quack doctor"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

Kyle Rittenhouse listens as the attorneys and the judge talk about jury instructions in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Monday.
Kyle Rittenhouse listens as the attorneys and the judge talk about jury instructions in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Monday. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News/Pool/AP)

Prosecutor Thomas Binger said during his closing argument that Kyle Rittenhouse was "a fraud" who lied to the press that he was a certified EMT.

"He's been interviewed ... and he said I'm a certified EMT. You're lying. You're absolutely lying," Binger said.

Some more context: During their cross-examination of Rittenhouse, prosecutors played a video of an interview the defendant gave that night. In that interview, Rittenhouse said that he was a certified EMT. He acknowledged that was a lie during his testimony.

"He's like a quack doctor. Practicing without a license," Binger said on Monday.

"So how do we evaluate the performance as a medic that night. On one hand, he wrapped up an ankle and I think maybe helped someone who got a cut on their hand. Yay. On the other hand, he killed two people and blew off Gaige Grosskreutz's arm and put two more lives in jeopardy. So when we balance your role as a medic that night, I don't give you any credit."

Binger said that Rittenhouse showed "no remorse" for his victims that night.

2:32 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Prosecutor claims shooting victim did not voluntarily point his gun at Rittenhouse

From CNN's Mike Hayes

After reviewing Kyle Rittenhouse's shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, prosecutor Thomas Binger moved on to describe the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz, the only shooting victim to survive.

While showing video footage of the shooting, Binger said that if at any point Grosskreutz was pointing his handgun at Rittenhouse, it happened after the defendant shot Grosskreutz in the arm, severing his bicep.

"That right arm is probably dangling down towards the defendant. It's not going to be able to pull that trigger without a working bicep muscle and it is not a voluntary thing. It is done because the defendant just blew his arm off. But, yeah, this is the time after the shooting when, yes, the gun happens to be pointed at the defendant."

Why this matters: Earlier in the trial, Grosskreutz testified that his handgun was pointing at Rittenhouse during the shooting that night. This testimony was elicited during cross-examination by Rittenhouse's attorney. On redirect questioning by the prosecution, Grosskreutz clarified that he never intentionally pointed his gun at Rittenhouse.

During his closing argument Monday, Binger said he wanted to "highlight the hypocrisy of the defense" regarding the threat they claim Grosskreutz was to Rittenhouse. 

"Because according to the defense, if someone has a gun they're a threat. If someone points a gun they're a threat. There is only one exception to that. The defendant," he said.

Binger continued: "By their logic, he gets to run around with a gun all night. But oh, we're not supposed to take him as a threat. He gets to point the gun at everybody. But he's not a threat. Doesn't work that way."

"There is no exception in the law for Kyle Rittenhouse," the ADA said.

2:18 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Prosecutor: Kyle Rittenhouse lied to bystanders after shooting Joseph Rosenbaum, claiming victim "pulled a gun"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

After the lunch break, prosecutor Thomas Binger restarted his closing argument by showing video of bystanders trying to provide medical care to Joseph Rosenbaum after Kyle Rittenhouse shot him.

"You want to talk about medics, you want to talk about people who care, you want to talk about people who were there trying to help. You just heard them and you just saw them," Binger said, after playing the clip.

Binger pointed out that the people on the street didn't know Joseph Rosenbaum, "they just knew somebody needed help." 

"And while that is going on, the defendant flees. Callously disregarding the body of the man that he just shot and killed," Binger said.

The prosecutor claimed that as Rittenhouse was running away after the shooting "he's lying to the crowd about what just happened."

Binger then played another clip showing a bystander ask Rittenhouse why he shot Rosenbaum. In the footage, Rittenhouse appears to respond "he pulled a gun."

"The defendant says he pulled a gun. That statement, he pulled a gun, was a lie. It's not true. The defendant knew it wasn't true. He's lying to the crowd as he's running away," Binger said. 

He continued: "Joseph Rosenbaum didn't have a gun. The defendant knew he didn't have a gun. The defendant is lying to save his own skin."

Binger said that after Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum, those around him believed they were "dealing what they perceive to be an active shooter." 

"Someone who has just shot someone who is still in possession of the gun who is fleeing the scene and how are we supposed to know where he's going next," Binger added. 

The prosecutor said it was "entirely reasonable" for others to view Rittenhouse as a threat. 

"This is someone who has committed a criminal act and is putting people in danger. It is entirely reasonable for that crowd to believe at that moment that he is a threat to kill again."
1:55 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Closing arguments resume

The court has reconvened and the prosecution is resuming closing arguments.

Prosecutor Thomas Binger opened his closing argument before the court went on a short break by telling the jury that he will keep his summary of the state's case against Kyle Rittenhouse "as simple as possible." 

"This is a case in which a 17-year-old teenager killed two unarmed men and severely wounded a third person with an AR-15 that did not belong to him," he said. 

Binger argued that video from the night of August 25, 2020 shows Rittenhouse provoked the fatal encounter with Joseph Rosenbaum, nullifying the defendant's self-defense claim.

Before the closing arguments, Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder spent much of the morning reading instructions to the jury, outlining some 36 pages of things they should consider when hearing closing arguments today in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse, the armed Illinois teenager who killed two people and wounded another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer, is charged with five felonies.

1:40 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Why the idea of provocation is important in Rittenhouse trial, according to a former federal prosecutor

From CNN's Laura Coates / Written by CNN's Maureen Chowdhury

Prosecutor Thomas Binger argued that the self defense argument should not apply in Kyle Rittenhouse's case because he provoked the situation, and this will be the key point for the jury to decide said Laura Coates, former federal prosecutor and CNN senior legal analyst.

"The idea of provocation becomes all the more important because in Wisconsin and in this trial, as been instructed, if you provoke you lose the right to claim self-defense," Coates explained.

Coates continued, "However, if by your action causes somebody to attack you and then you believe, reasonably that you have some fear of imminent bodily harm or death, then you can use some level of self-defense, after you’ve exhausted all means of trying to get away or escape. The prosecutor honed in on that point when he asked the question rhetorically. Did he exhaust all means and try to leave? ... Did he do everything he could to get away?And they say no."

Some more context: Rittenhouse testified last week that he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, who had thrown a plastic bag at him and chased him last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in what is likely to be the pivotal testimony of his homicide trial.

"I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself," he testified.

But in cross-examination, Rittenhouse said that he knew Rosenbaum was unarmed when he ran at the teenager. Rittenhouse said he pointed his rifle at Rosenbaum in an attempt to deter him, adding that he knew pointing a rifle at someone is dangerous.

"He was chasing me, I was alone, he threatened to kill me earlier that night. I didn't want to have to shoot him," Rittenhouse testified. "I pointed it at him because he kept running at me and I didn't want him to chase me."

1:07 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Prosecutor argues Kyle Rittenhouse should have run away instead of shooting Joseph Rosenbaum

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News/Pool/AP)
(Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News/Pool/AP)

Prosecutor Thomas Binger said during his closing argument that Kyle Rittenhouse should have continued to run away instead of shooting Joseph Rosenbaum.

"One of the things that [the] judge instructed you, is when the defendant provokes the situation he has to exhaust all reasonable means to avoid killing someone. Did he? He didn't have to shoot." 

Referring to video footage of the moments leading up to the shooting, that was played during Binger's presentation, the assistant DA said Rittenhouse is "the one who chose where to run. He chose to run in between those parked cars." Binger said that Rittenhouse then "slows down" and shoots Rosenbaum.

Binger noted that other people in the streets were running away and scattering after hearing gunshots.

The prosecutor told the jury that according to the law, Rittenhouse "has to exhaust all reasonable means of escape before killing Mr. Rosenbaum."

The court is currently taking a break. After that, the prosecution will resume its closing arguments.