The jury in the Wisconsin murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse will deliberate for a second day on Wednesday, attempting to reach a consensus on whether to convict or acquit the teenager for killing two men and wounding a third during racial justice protests last year.
The jury of 7 women and 5 men from Kenosha, Wisconsin, deliberated for about eight hours on Tuesday. They sent two notes to the judge, neither giving any indication of the substance of their discussions on the first day.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with homicide in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and attempted homicide in the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 28, on Aug. 25, 2020. He also faces two felony charges for endangering the safety of two men – one he shot at but missed and another who was a bystander to a shooting.
The shootings took place in Kenosha during protests – marred by arson, rioting and looting – that followed the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, has pleaded not guilty and took the stand last week to argue that he only fired his weapon after the men attacked him. He said Rosenbaum, the first person he shot that night, grabbed the barrel of his semi-automatic rifle.
The jury has to weigh a large body of evidence, including surveillance and cellphone videos, and is being asked to consider a total of four lower-level charges in addition to the five main criminal counts. Rittenhouse faces life in prison on the most serious count.
During closing arguments on Monday, prosecutors sought to portray Rittenhouse as a reckless vigilante who provoked a series of violent encounters, first by raising his rifle in a threatening way, then by shooting Rosenbaum which created an “active shooter” situation that Huber and Grosskreutz tried to stop.
The defense described Rittenhouse as a civic-minded teen who carried a medical kit in addition to his weapon and wanted to protect a used-car dealership from the kind of property damage that Kenosha had seen over two nights prior to the shooting.
The Rittenhouse trial has emerged as the most closely watched case involving a civilian’s right to self-defense since George Zimmerman was acquitted in the fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager, in 2013.
Like Zimmerman, Rittenhouse has become a polarizing figure, viewed as heroic by some conservatives who favor expansive gun rights and as a symbol of a reckless American gun culture by many on the left.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne; Editing by Mary Milliken and Sandra Maler)