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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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.

12:55 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Prosecution argues Rittenhouse can’t claim self-defense on "a danger you create"

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Prosector Thomas Binger is playing video footage of the shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person that Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot on the night of August 25, 2020.

The assistant district attorney is arguing that the video shows that Kyle Rittenhouse provoked the fatal encounter with Rosenbaum, nullifying the defendant's self-defense claim.

"So what you see in that video is his left arm reaching for the gun holding it up. You can see it again on the video here. His left arm reaching up towards the gun. That is what provokes this entire incident and one of the things to keep in mind is when the defendant provokes the incident, he loses the right to self-defense," Binger told the jury.

Binger continued: "You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create. That's critical right here. If you're the one who is threatening others, you lose the right to claim self-defense."

The prosecution is showing the shooting from multiple angles, while also pointing out that Rosenbaum was not within "an arm's length" of Rittenhouse when he shot him.

Some more context: Rittenhouse testified last week that he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot 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."

The prosecution's closing argument is ongoing.

12:36 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Prosecutor asks jury to consider Rittenhouse's motivations for being in Kenosha on night of the shootings

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Prosecutor Thomas Binger opened his closing argument 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 said that what happened on August 25, 2020, isn't a situation where Rittenhouse was "protecting his home or his family." 

"He killed people after traveling here from Antioch, Illinois, and staying out after a citywide curfew," Binger added.

Binger was interrupted by the defense who objected to his mention of the curfew. "There's no curfew charge anymore," defense attorney Mark Richards said. The judge noted that "there had been an announced curfew so I'll leave it at that." 

Binger continued: "Although the defendant claimed to be protecting a business that he wasn't familiar with, the actual killings, in this case, had nothing to do with that and he also spent the entire evening lying about the fact that he was an EMT." 

"None of the things that I just told you are in doubt in this case," Binger said.

He asked the jury to consider Rittenhouse's motivations for being in Kenosha that night.

"Was he genuinely interested in helping people? He ran around with an AR-15... and lied about being an EMT," Binger said. "Does that suggest to you that he genuinely is there to help?"

Binger reminded the jury they all agreed to "keep an open mind" and told the attorneys that they didn't have any "preconceived notions" about the case. 

"Now you've heard the evidence and it's time to search for the truth," he said.

The prosecution's closing argument is ongoing.

12:22 p.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Closing arguments begin in Kyle Rittenhouse trial

From CNN's Amir Vera, Carma Hassan and Brad Parks

Closing arguments are now underway in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger is delivering the state's closing argument.

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder has set a total time limit of two and a half hours for each side to deliver their remarks.

The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial is expected to get the case this afternoon, when attorneys finish their closing arguments.

Schroeder explained if the prosecution is not able to establish Rittenhouse's guilt on the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, then the jury must acquit him.

11:58 a.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Judge and attorneys debate jury instructions for second-degree homicide

From CNN's Mike Hayes

(Pool)
(Pool)

Judge Bruce Schroeder and attorneys for both sides are currently debating the jury instructions for second-degree homicide, after sending the jury out of the room.

Schroeder had started reading the instructions to the jury before asking them to leave.

11:05 a.m. ET, November 15, 2021

Judge reads jury instructions ahead of closing arguments

From CNN's Brad Parks

(Pool)
(Pool)

Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder has begun reading instructions to the jury ahead of closing arguments in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse.

The judge and attorneys estimated the reading of the instructions will take around 45 minutes to an hour.

Schroeder said earlier in court that there are 36 pages of jury instructions.

Moments ago, before the jury entered the room, Judge Schroeder dismissed Count 6 of the indictment against Rittenhouse – a misdemeanor charge for possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.

The charge was punishable by up to nine months in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Rittenhouse now faces five charges.