Jury acquits Rittenhouse on all charges
Rittenhouse was on trial for the fatal shooting of two men and wounding of a third in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer
A Wisconsin jury on Friday acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all five charges in the murder trial of two men whom a then-17-year-old Rittenhouse shot during riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer.
The 18-year-old Rittenhouse became visibly emotional, shaking, crying, and almost collapsing, after the jurors' acquittal was read.
He was acquitted of five charges, including first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
Rittenhouse faced the charges in connection with the chaotic night on social justice protests on Aug. 25, 2020.
He fatally shot two men and wounded another with an AR-15 rifle, after coming from his home in Illinois to protect business from rioters during the protests, sparked by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black male.
Prosecutors claimed in closing arguments Monday that Rittenhouse was a "wannabe soldier" who provoked bloodshed by bringing a semi-automatic rifle to the night of protests and rioting, amid the summer of social justice demonstrations.
Rittenhouse's lawyer said his client acted in self-defense after being ambushed by a "crazy person" who he feared would wrest away his gun and use it to kill him, according to the Associated Press.
The verdict came after two weeks of testimony including the defendant's.
Following the contentious trial, Judge Bruce Schroeder told the jurors they can decide whether to address the media going forward.
"You're never under any obligation to discuss any aspect of this case with anyone," he said.
"The media have requested – a number of media sources have requested the ability to talk to you ... and it's entirely up to you whether you want contact them. They are not to contact you. If anyone does contact you and you tell them you're not interested in discussing it. If that's the case and if anyone persists in doing so, report that to us and it will be addressed. I assure you."
The safety of the jurors has been a top priority to Schroeder throughout the trial, and he once again assured them that "we will take every measure to ensure that that is your concerns are addressed and respected."
"I believe justice has been served in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial," said Wisconsin GOP Sen. Ron Johnson. "I hope everyone can accept the verdict, remain peaceful, and let the community of Kenosha heal and rebuild."
Patricia McCloskey, one half of the St. Louis couple who stood on their property brandishing firearms as BLM rioters stormed past their home during the summer of 2020, said of the Rittenhouse verdict, "It's a great day for America, the First amendment, Second amendment."
Prior to the delivery of the verdict, the families of the victims gathered in the courtroom. There was also reportedly a notable increase in police presence in and around the courthouse as the jury prepared to deliver its verdict.
Eighteen jurors heard the case. The 12 who will decided Rittenhouse’s fate and the six who were designated alternates were determined by a drawing from a raffle drum, the wire service also reports.