Kenosha, WI – A Kenosha County jury found 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts on Friday afternoon.
Rittenhouse had pleaded not guilty to six felony charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree attempted intentional homicide.
Kenosha Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a curfew violation charge on Tuesday and a gun charge just before the start of closing arguments on Monday, CNN reported.
If convicted, the most serious of the charges against Rittenhouse could have resulted in life in prison for the 18 year old.
The jury deliberated for four days before rendering not guilty verdicts on all remaining charges.
The teen’s attorneys have said the shootings occurred when he was in Kenosha to help clean graffiti off school buildings that had been vandalized during the anti-police riots when a friend asked him to help provide security for a car dealership.
Rittenhouse, then 17 years old, brought a medic kit and an AR-15 rifle that a friend had purchased for him with his stimulus check and told reporters on the scene he was there to help anybody who was hurt.
At one point, he left the car dealership to provide medical aid to a protester and then found himself blocked from returning to where his friends were.
His attorneys have said Rittenhouse was pursued through the streets of Kenosha and shot three people – killing two – in self-defense.
On Nov. 10, one of the men whom Rittenhouse shot that night testified that he had pointed his gun at the teenager before the boy shot him, CNN reported.
“When you were standing three to five feet from him with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?” defense attorney Corey Chirafisi asked Gaige Grosskreutz, whom Rittenhouse shot in the right bicep.
“Correct,” Grosskreutz said.
“It wasn’t until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him with your gun – now your hand is down pointed at him — that he fired, right?” Chirafisi asked.
“Correct,” Grosskreutz responded.
Grosskreutz testified that he was carrying a pistol concealed that night even though his conceal carried permit wad expired, CNN reported.
He also admitted that he lied to investigators when he claimed his gun had fallen out of his pants earlier in the evening.
The prosecution clearly surprised prosecutors when they put Rittenhouse on the stand because Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger had to ask for a break to go back to his office first.
Rittenhouse, for his part, fell apart in sobs on the stand when Binger he was being walked through the shootings on the stand.
“I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me,” the 18 year old told the jury.
“By killing them?” Binger asked.
“Two of them passed away but I stopped the threat from attacking me,” Rittenhouse replied.
“By using deadly force?” Binger asked.
“I used deadly force,” Rittenhouse answered the prosecutor. “… I didn’t know if it was going to kill them. But I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me.”
On Wednesday, the judge exploded several minutes into the state’s cross-examination of Rittenhouse.
Schroeder upheld an objection the defense made to questions that Binger asked the teen about his beliefs and opinions.
The judge said he had ruled against that material in a prior motion and also reprimanded Binger for a second time during the cross-examination for having referenced the defendant’s pre-trial silence.
Schroeder warned Binger, not for the first time, that he was dangerously close to violating Rittenhouse’s Constitutional rights.
Activists protested ahead of the start of the trial, furious that the judge ruled he wouldn’t allow Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Grosskreutz to be called “victims,” the Chicago Tribune reported.
Kenosha and Milwaukee have prepared for the Rittenhouse trial for weeks in anticipation of civil unrest in the case of a not-guilty verdict.
Last Friday, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers activated 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops in anticipation of riots if the jury in the murder trial of 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse doesn’t find him guilty.