The Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Progresses


Over a year ago (as of 11/3/2021), in Kenosha, WI, Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, shot and killed two men and wounded another during a protest. A group of people were protesting the death of Jacob Blake, a black man who had been shot in the back 7 times by police. On the third night of protesting, Rittenhouse showed up with a semi-automatic rifle and joined the counterprotest.

According to the New York Times, “Mr. Rittenhouse is facing six criminal counts, including first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.” 

At the beginning of the trial, Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled that the men shot by Rittenhouse would not be allowed to be referred to as “victims.” In a statement on Monday, Oct. 25, the judge said, “The word ‘victim’ is a loaded, loaded word. And I think ‘alleged victim’ is a cousin to it.” He has asked prosecutors to use words like “complaining witness.”

This decision was very controversial with people following the case since he allowed the defense to use words like “looters,” “rioters,” or “arsonists.” However, he has said that they are only allowed to use those words if they are able to prove that they are true. Essentially, if there is evidence that the men were looting or rioting during the protest, then the defense will be allowed to describe them as such. 

The defense is arguing that the case is a matter of self-defense. They say that one of the men he killed, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, had reached for Rittenhouse’s gun and attempted to pursue him. While he was running down the street, Anthony Huber, 26, had tried to chase him down and strike him with a skateboard. Rittenhouse turned and shot at those two men, killing them, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse said that he was in Kenosha in order to protect businesses from rioters during the protests. 

The prosecution argues that he came to Kenosha looking to be violent, because of the fact that he was not from the area and came heavily armed. Since they believe he came with weapons and was looking for a fight, they argue that the acts were not those of self-defense. 

Jury selection began on Monday. They will be asked to look at the events of that night, and decide whether or not Rittenhouse’s use of deadly force was reasonable. According to Wisconsin Law Section 939.48(1), “The actor may not intentionally use force which is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm unless the actor reasonably believes that such force is necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm to himself or herself.” Wisconsin has no “duty to retreat” rule, so the prosecutors have to prove to the jury that his use of deadly force was unreasonable.