Kyle Rittenhouse provoked the fatal shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year by pointing his AR-15-style weapon at Joseph Rosenbaum, prosecutors said Monday in closing arguments of his homicide trial.
“That is what provokes this entire incident,” prosecutor Thomas Binger said. “When the defendant provokes this incident, he loses the right to self-defense. You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create.”
In response, defense attorney Mark Richards said Rittenhouse did not act recklessly when he fatally shot Rosenbaum, who Richards argued had threatened him, chased him, thrown a plastic bag at him and lunged for his gun.
“When my client shot Joseph Rosenbaum, he feared for his life. He feared because of his prior threats, prior statements and the violent acts that had been witnessed by my client,” Richards said.
The dueling closing arguments, which took up most of Monday, came at the end of a two-week trial highlighted by emotional and illuminating testimony from Rittenhouse himself, who said he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Rosenbaum.
A crowd of people then pursued the teenager, and Rittenhouse testified he shot in self-defense at a man who tried to kick him; fatally shot Anthony Huber, who had hit him with a skateboard; and shot Gaige Grosskreutz, who was armed with a pistol. Rosenbaum and Huber were killed, and Grosskreutz was wounded.
The group of 18 jurors will be narrowed to 12 this morning and will then begin deliberating in the case.
Earlier Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a misdemeanor weapons charge against Rittenhouse, now 18. He still faces five felony charges and, if convicted on the most serious charge, could face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Schroeder also read a set of legal instructions to the jury members and informed them they will be allowed to consider lesser included offenses for two of the five counts.
The trial featured more than a dozen videos from the night of August 25, 2020, showing what happened before, during and after the shootings. Most of the facts of what happened that night were not up for debate — rather, the heart of the trial was the analysis of Rittenhouse’s actions and whether they can be considered “reasonable.”
The prosecution rested its case last Tuesday and the defense rested Friday.