We're into the 15th day of the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager charged with killing two people and wounding a third during violent protests in Kenosha last year after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. The defense and prosecution gave closing arguments Monday, Nov. 15, and the jury began deliberation Tuesday.
Rittenhouse, 18, is charged with counts of intentional, reckless and attempted homicide and reckless endangerment. A misdemeanor charge of possessing a firearm as a minor was dismissed Monday, and a curfew violation charge was dismissed last week.
Check below for updates as Journal Sentinel reporters and photographers cover the trial. You can also read about what happened on day one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10 and 11 of the trial.
Longtime, and at times controversial, sheriff hands out coffee, cookies outside courthouse
Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth, who drew national attention for some of his comments last year after the police shooting of Jacob Blake and subsequent unrest, handed out coffee and cookies Thursday outside the courthouse where jurors continued deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse case.
Beth’s actions were a “gesture to the community and media in hopes that it would reduce tensions and bring folks together,” the sheriff’s department said in a tweet, adding the agency “believes in kindness and generosity.”
Beth has been sheriff since 2002. When he was re-elected in 2018, he said he would not run again in 2022.
In the aftermath of the Blake shooting, Beth’s past statements came under scrutiny. In 2018, Beth was heavily criticized after he made remarks about shoplifting suspects who crashed into another car during a police chase, saying “there are some people that aren't worth saving.” He apologized at the time. Civil rights activists replayed his comments during rallies for Blake last year.
Beth also drew attention when speaking after the shootings for which Rittenhouse is now on trial. He told reporters that “last night was very peaceful. Tuesday night, not quite so peaceful but it wasn’t too bad. Monday night was our big night.” That Tuesday was the night Rittenhouse fatally shot two people and wounded a third.
The next day, Beth answered questions from reporters and reiterated that he had not asked armed groups to provide support to law enforcement.
"You could clearly see the situation escalated Tuesday night because a 17-year-old boy carrying what appears to be an assault rifle who has no idea how to handle a situation like this — I don't care if he had the right intentions or not, two people are currently dead and one almost had his arm blown off," Beth said at the time.
Beth also generated headlines when he endorsed then-President Donald Trump for re-election in a USA TODAY opinion piece. He participated in a roundtable with the president during his visit to Kenosha soon after the unrest.
— Ashley Luthern
The jury will retire without a verdict after third day of deliberations
After its third full day of deliberations, the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse asked to retire around 4 p.m.
The jury submitted no questions during the day, but as the panel assembled in open court to formally excused, one juror asked if they could take their copies of the jury instructions home.
Judge Bruce Schroeder said they could.
The jury will return to begin a fourth day of deliberations Friday at 9 a.m.
— Bruce Vielmetti
State senator asks jurors to do the right thing
Wisconsin Sen. Lena Taylor of Milwaukee called on jurors in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial to not be afraid and to do the right thing while speaking to reporters on the steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse Thursday afternoon.
“I’m hoping for the jury to do what is best and do what is right and do what is just. I don’t believe that the message that we should send in this case or the (Ahmaud) Arbery case is that we want vigilantes,” she said.
Taylor, who is running for lieutenant governor in the 2022 election, said the jurors have a difficult job and she hopes they “rise to the occasion to do what is right,” without worrying about what may be happening outside the courtroom. She said she appreciates them answering the call to serve and taking it seriously.
Taylor, an attorney who has served in the Legislature for 18 years, commented on Judge Bruce Schroeder’s handling of the case, which has come under scrutiny throughout the trial, saying that she found some of his practices “unusual” but also acknowledging that he has experience in other high-profile cases.
She said she was “shocked” when the judge dismissed the firearm possession charge against Rittenhouse.
Taylor was asked to respond to people who say Rittenhouse’s case doesn’t have anything to do with race.
“If it was somebody that looked like me, I feel like hands-down it would be handled differently,” she said.
But she said she sees why some people might not understand where she is coming from.
“I know it’s very hard to see through somebody else’s lenses,” she said, especially in a largely white state. “But my lenses are real, the experience is true and the truth of the matter is we are all in this together.”
She said she hoped for a verdict that “will feel like justice to the families who have lost their loved ones and those that have been harmed and those that have been victimized by this whole experience just looking at it on the news.”
— Sarah Volpenhein
Jury silent on third day of deliberations
The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial has so far not asked any questions during the third day of deliberations, leaving no clues as to where their talks stand.
The jury has deliberated for a rough total of 22 hours as of 3 p.m. Thursday. During the previous two days, the jury asked for additional copies of jury instructions and to review video evidence of the shootings.
The jury broke for the day around 5 p.m. both Tuesday and Wednesday.
— Elliot Hughes
'Maserati Mike' identified as fired Missouri police officer
The man who called himself "Maserati Mike" and showed up Wednesday with a long rifle outside the Kenosha County Courthouse is a fired Ferguson, Missouri, police officer.
Jesse T. Kline confirmed his identity to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Thursday.
In recent days, Kline has been seen outside the Kenosha County Courthouse as the jury deliberates in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse. On Wednesday, when he showed up with the long rifle, Kenosha County sheriff's deputies asked him to put the rifle away and he complied.
Thursday, he was seen carrying a gun case. It could not be determined if it was empty. He was also speaking out of a bullhorn and parading with a dog. He appeared to be in Kenosha to support Rittenhouse.
According to media reports, Kline was arrested in August 2018 in the St. Louis suburb of Maplewood. He allegedly followed a woman he had been in a romantic relationship with to another man's home and threatened him with a gun.
— Bill Glauber and Mike De Sisti
NBC News responds to jury photog controversy
NBC News released a statement confirming someone affiliated with the network was cited in Kenosha on Wednesday, but denied that he was trying to photograph jurors.
The statement, obtained by CNN’s Brian Stelter, said:
NBC News statement: "Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them" (1/2)
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) November 18, 2021
“Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them. We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation.”
— Elliot Hughes
Kenosha police detain man trying to photograph jurors
Kenosha police briefly detained and cited a man who police believe tried photographing jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
Judge Bruce Schroeder called the lawyers together to comment on the matter, saying someone claiming to be employed by NBC or MSNBC was following the bus that transports jurors to and from the courthouse.
It wasn’t immediately clear if the man is in fact employed by either network, but Schroeder said nobody affiliated with MSNBC would be allowed in the courthouse.
“That is an extremely serious matter,” Schroeder said.
Jurors are ferried to and from the courthouse in a bus with the windows covered to protect their anonymity, Schroeder said. The man followed the bus Wednesday evening from a distance of about a block and ran a red light to stay on its tail, he said.
Kenosha police said they issued the man several traffic-related citations and are still investigating the matter.
However, there was no breach of security regarding the jury and no photographs were taken, police said.
Earlier Thursday morning, the media liaison with the Kenosha County Courthouse entered the media workroom accompanied by a police officer. They said they were looking for someone affiliated with NBC or MSNBC.
A representative from NBC later said police asked him to verify if someone worked for either network. He told police the person in question did not.
The man in question said he was told to follow the bus by his supervisor, who works in New York.
Additionally, Kenosha police clarified Thursday morning that a reported shooting near a protest on the courthouse steps did not happen.
The report initially came from a Facebook group monitoring police scanner traffic.
“Another attempt at disinformation,” police said.
— Elliot Hughes
Jacob Blake calls for peace following verdict
In an interview with TMZ, Jacob Blake said Kyle Rittenhouse shouldn’t have been in Kenosha as people protested his shooting, and he called for peace following the jury’s decision.
Blake, who was shot seven times by a Kenosha police officer last summer, said he has forgiven the officer, Rusten Sheskey, and was worried when he heard Sheskey’s address was published online.
Blake told TMZ he believed there was a racial double-standard in how police dealt with Rittenhouse, who was in Kenosha protecting an empty used car dealership during the unrest following Blake’s shooting.
Rittenhouse got preferential treatment throughout his case because he is white, Blake said.
“The judge seems like he really likes the guy,” Blake said.
“The kid might not be a bad person. I’m not saying he’s a bad person at all. But what he did, he shouldn’t have been there,” he said.
Blake said he wished the demonstrations last year didn’t “escalate to the point where it caused a riot.”
He also said he hoped the result of Rittenhouse’s trial didn’t spark more unrest.
“I don’t know if they’re going to riot, if they’re going to protest off of this, but I’m hoping whatever the outcome is that there’s none of that. Because it’s not going to fix nothing. It’s not going to fix anything. Destroying stuff does not fix stuff,” Blake said.
Paralyzed from the waist down from his shootings, Blake said he is often in severe pain. He has become a believer in God since being shot because he survived, he said.
“Every bullet, except for the two that hit my arm, that’s five bullets that should’ve killed me. But they didn’t,” he said.
— Sophie Carson
Jury resumes deliberations
As of 9 a.m. Thursday, the jury has gathered and resumed deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
Thursday marks day 14 of the trial and day three of deliberations. The jury has spent roughly 15 hours deliberating since Tuesday.
Jurors again did not appear in Judge Bruce Schroeder’s courtroom before reconvening.
Check back here for updates on deliberations as they happen.
— Elliot Hughes
Schools moved to virtual learning
Five Kenosha schools have been moved to virtual learning because of their proximity to the courthouse.
Kenosha Unified School District had already moved Harborside Academy, a charter school for grades 6 through 12, and Reuther Central High School, an alternative high school, to virtual learning for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Now, Harborside and Reuther, as well as three other nearby schools, will be virtual through Friday.
According to a letter the district sent to parents, the decision was made because the schools are close to the courthouse, where an increasing number of demonstrators have been gathering since the jury began deliberations.
Plus, the district said, many students walk to and from those schools.
“While we have not been advised of any existing imminent danger, we feel this is the best course of action to protect our students and staff during an uncertain time. We will continue to work closely with law enforcement to receive support as needed in the days and weeks ahead,” the letter reads.
The schools going virtual are Harborside, Reuther, Brass Community School, Frank Elementary and Washington Middle School.
— Sophie Carson
Day 2 of jury deliberations ends without a verdict
Day two of deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial has ended without a verdict.
The 12-person jury broke for the day shortly after 4:30 p.m. after approximately seven hours of deliberation. Jurors will convene at 9 a.m. Thursday.
— Elliot Hughes
Fight breaks out outside the Kenosha County Courthouse, two people arrested
A scuffle broke out Wednesday afternoon on the Kenosha County Courthouse steps.
A man wearing a shirt that says “(Expletive) Kyle” apparently punched another demonstrator, according to videos from the incident. He also picked up a nearby man and slammed him to the ground.
Police arrested two people, according to reporters outside the courthouse.
Several officers shouted “back up!” at the crowd as it pushed toward a police van carrying the two people who were arrested.
Justin Blake, Jacob Blake’s uncle, shouted obscenities at the officers as they directed people to move out of the way of the van.
Viewer discretion on the video below:
The man wearing the F-Kyle teeshirt attacked a female counter protester before bodyslamming a journalist. pic.twitter.com/MUr7A7RqB9
— Steve Oatley (Host of Wake Up America) (@steveoatley) November 17, 2021
Once the two were arrested, the situation calmed down outside. People were standing around and chanting.
Inside the courtroom, reporters and court officials were allowed to reenter around 4:30 p.m. The jury had been using the courtroom to view videos they requested.
— Sophie Carson
Rittenhouse defense to seek regular mistrial
The drone footage that is key to the prosecution’s case is now the subject of another defense motion for a mistrial — this one without prejudice, meaning charges could be filed again.
“We didn’t have the quality of evidence the state had until the case had been closed,” said defense counsel Corey Chirafisi.
The request seemed to indicate a growing defense concern about a possible guilty verdict, something Rittenhouse's supporters have long discounted as they predicted rapid acquittals.
Defense attorneys have taken issue with drone video used by prosecutors showing the shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum. They said prosecutors provided them with a "compressed version" of drone video on Nov. 5 that "was not as clear as the video kept by the state." The higher-quality video was given to the defense after testimony ended and before closing arguments.
Defense attorneys argued that was done intentionally, calling the video the "linchpin" of the state's case in their earlier mistrial motion.
“If we’re really trying to get to the heart of it. We’ve watched the video, I can tell you what we think, but it doesn’t matter what we think because we don’t get to present that to the jury anymore,” Chirafisi said.
"We have to ask for this, and I’m asking for this. We understand that it’s going to be without prejudice. We understand the state can redo this case if the court grants it, we understand they will do it again," he said. "But then I think we will all have the same information, the same quality of videos, and I think that is required in a case like this where he’s looking at a life sentence potentially without parole if he’s convicted.”
The judge did not issue a ruling immediately. The jury continued deliberating late Wednesday afternoon.
— Bruce Vielmetti and Ashley Luthern
Rittenhouse case generates flood of messages to Kenosha County courthouse, judge
People everywhere have been following the Kyle Rittenhouse trial through various online streams. Many of them have sent their thoughts to the presiding judge, Bruce Schroeder.
From expletive-laden abuse, to praise and blessings, and even some legal advice, the unsolicited input arrives by email, fax and even old-fashioned postcards decorated with orioles, a doll and the Hungarian parliament building. And the Clerk of Court enters them all into the docket in Rittenhouse's case.
Some emails are pretty long and detailed in their critiques. They call Schroeder biased, unethical, racist and technologically ignorant.
In one, someone called the judge a “disgrace to the bench.” In another, someone praised his “application of blind justice.”
Read the full story here.
Anthony Huber's girlfriend: 'He was so underrepresented in this trial'
The girlfriend of Anthony Huber, who was shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse, told WTMJ-TV (Channel 4) she expected Huber to be more of a focus during the trial.
"I just feel he was so underrepresented in this trial, and I don't think that's fair because what he did was assess an active shooter situation and he was just that type of man,” Hannah Gittings told WTMJ reporter Tony Atkins.
Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in Huber's death.
Gittings said Huber's goal was to stop Rittenhouse who had just fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum.
Prosecutors put forward the same account during trial, that Rittenhouse was running away when Huber tried to stop him and Rittenhouse fatally shot him. Video and witness statements showed Huber hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard and appearing to try to take his gun.
Prosecutor did call Susan Hughes, Huber's great-aunt, to the stand early in the trial and asked her about Huber's background.
But her testimony ended somewhat abruptly after prosecutors asked if she had ever seen Huber run towards danger and Rittenhouse’s attorneys objected to the question.
After the jury left the room, prosecutors said they were going to ask Hughes about a specific instance in which Huber was a child and he ran to try to help stop an explosion at a family gathering.
After some back-and-forth between Judge Bruce Schroeder and the attorneys, it became clear that if prosecutors went forward with that line of questioning, the defense intended to introduce evidence of Huber's past criminal cases. Prosecutors withdrew the question and Hughes' testimony ended shortly after that.
— Ashley Luthern
More than two hours after its request, jury will be allowed to review video evidence from laptop outside courtroom
After a lengthy back and forth with Judge Bruce Schroeder and lawyers from both parties, the jury will be allowed to review video evidence from a laptop outside of the courtroom.
Earlier Wednesday morning, when the jury tried asking how and where it could review video evidence, it appeared Schroeder decided they could watch it alone in the courtroom. Live camera feeds into the room soon after went black.
But shortly before 1 p.m., Schroeder and the lawyers reconvened to discuss further how many times the jury could rewatch the footage and where they could do it.
The defense argued the jury should only be able to rewatch video evidence one time to avoid the risk of over-emphasizing a piece of evidence. The prosecution argued for unlimited viewing privately in the courtroom.
Schroeder sided with the prosecution but determined the jury could view the footage from a laptop outside the courtroom. The decision came about 2½ hours after the jury first asked how it could review the footage.
— Elliot Hughes
Jury asks where and how it can to rewatch video evidence
The jury has asked where and how it can rewatch video evidence, and as lawyers weighed the question with Judge Bruce Schroeder, he went off on a tangent about the media’s coverage of the trial.
About 11 a.m. Wednesday, lawyers convened with Schroeder to discuss the jury’s question. Both parties agreed the jury should rewatch video evidence from a television in the courtroom, rather than from a laptop at another location.
It wasn’t immediately clear which footage the jury wanted to review, but defense attorney Mark Richards said he had an issue with the jury watching drone footage of the shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum.
That footage is cited in the defense’s motion for a mistrial with prejudice. The motion, filed Monday, alleges that prosecutors intentionally gave the defense a compressed version of the footage, with a lower viewing quality.
The defense said it was given the lower quality footage Nov. 5. It was not given the same quality of footage until Saturday, according to court documents.
Schroeder eventually agreed the jury would have to view the footage alone in the courtroom. As of 11:15 a.m., court officials began clearing out the room and turning off the live camera feed.
But Richards’ mentioning of the motion for a mistrial — which Schroeder still has not yet ruled on — set him off on a six-minute tangent about media coverage of the trial.
That tangent culminated with him saying he might rethink allowing live television cameras in his courtroom in the future.
Schroeder directly referenced coverage from the Journal Sentinel quoting several legal experts who said it was “odd” he hadn’t ruled on the motion. He first clarified that he hadn’t read the motion yet and wanted to give prosecutors a chance to respond formally.
But he then said he was “astounded” that anyone would speculate as to why he hadn’t ruled on the motion. He argued judges should hold such motions “under advisement” and said it’s “a shame that irresponsible” comments were being made in the media.
Schroeder then touched on several other items that have made waves in the media, including his allowing Rittenhouse to help randomly select jurors and his decision not to allow the men Rittenhouse shot to be described as “victims.”
He repeated that he has allowed defendants to randomly select jurors for the last 20 years. His practice of not allowing anyone to be called a “victim” until someone is convicted of a crime is also a long-held practice of his.
He asked if it was “so difficult” to keep from referring to the men as victims “instead of pre-judging what the jury is here to determine, as to whether there is a victim?”
— Elliot Hughes
Protesters gather on steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse
Flags are waving in the air, stockpiles of food and water are at hand, music is blaring, signs are hoisted and at least one gun is being toted.
As the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial begins day two of deliberations, protesters are again gathering on the steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse on Wednesday.
By mid-morning, things were off to a slow start with journalists outnumbering protesters. But, as happened Tuesday, crowds outside the courthouse are expected to grow as the day wears on.
One man with a long gun and a bullhorn was seen pacing around outside the front steps, playing loud music from a speaker. Law enforcement kept a steady presence outside the building as dozens of media outlets waited under tents across the street.
Emily Cahill, 33, of Plainfield, Ill., was seen making another version of a sign she said was destroyed by a counterprotester Tuesday. It reads, “BLM and Antifa are here 2 intimidate.”
Her last sign was snatched from her and ripped to shreds in front of her by a counterprotester. She said she plans to stand outside the courthouse every day in support of Rittenhouse until a verdict is reached.
“Self-defense is not a crime,” Cahill said. “I would want to defend myself in that situation.”
Cahill and a protester on the other side of the issues — Xavier Simmons, 25, of Racine — both said they remain worried about additional violence or unrest following the verdict.
Simmons, who was also outside the courthouse Tuesday, said interactions between the two groups were tense. He said he came to Kenosha to support a community that was “tortured” by Rittenhouse last year.
“No young boy should come out here with an AR-15,” he said.
— Elliot Hughes
MORE RITTENHOUSE COVERAGE: How the jury was narrowed
— Mike De Sisti (@mdesisti) November 17, 2021
Father of man shot by Kenosha police takes out ad in New York Times
Michael Bell Sr., whose son was fatally shot in the head by Kenosha police in 2004, has taken out a two-page ad in the New York Times, alleging corruption in the Kenosha Police Department.
Under a large heading that reads, “A History of Corruption: How Kenosha PD Killed Michael Bell,” the ad includes a copy of the letter Bell Sr. wrote to Gov. Tony Evers dated last month.
On the second page, several photos and renderings accompany 22 bullet points in which Bell Sr. alleges wrongdoing and a cover-up in his son’s case.
Bell Sr., a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel, has never accepted the Kenosha Police Department’s version of events and has continued battling for accountability ever since.
The city paid the Bell family $1.75 million in a federal lawsuit settlement, and the case pushed Wisconsin to require outside law enforcement agencies to investigate officer-involved deaths.
Bell Sr. said he will be in Kenosha Wednesday with copies of the advertisements.
— Sophie Carson
Day two of jury deliberations begin
The second day of jury deliberations is underway in Kenosha.
The 12 jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial did not appear in Judge Bruce Schroeder’s courtroom Wednesday morning, but a court official informed media they already began deliberating as of 9:25 a.m.
The jury deliberated for roughly eight hours Tuesday and elected to end for the day around 5:30 p.m. Schroeder has said he will let jurors decide how long they want to deliberate each day.
Yesterday, jurors forwarded zero questions to lawyers of either party. They did, however, request additional copies of the 36 pages of jury instructions.
— Elliot Hughes
U.S Senate candidate photographed with two people flashing 'OK' sign
Republican Mark McCloskey, a candidate for the U.S. Senate in Missouri, was photographed Tuesday outside the Wisconsin courthouse where Kyle Rittenhouse was on trial for murder with two people flashing a sign associated with white supremacists.
McCloskey and his wife, Patricia, were both in Kenosha on Monday and Tuesday to show support for Rittenhouse. The McCloskeys gained national attention after they waved guns at racial injustice protesters who were marching in their gated St. Louis subdivision last summer.
Mark McCloskey compared himself to Rittenhouse in a statement Tuesday, saying they have both been prosecuted and were defending themselves from an “angry mob.” McCloskey said he hopes the jury finds Rittenhouse not guilty.
McCloskey on Tuesday was photographed standing next to two men flashing an “OK” sign, which is associated with white supremacists.
Rittenhouse was also photographed in January with two men as they made the “OK” sign with their hands. The judge in September ruled against allowing that to be discussed during Rittenhouse’s trial.
— Associated Press
Jury goes home at about 5:45 p.m. after about eight hours of deliberation
The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case has officially retired for evening as of about 5:45 p.m.
The 12 jurors’ day concludes after roughly eight hours of deliberation, during which they did not request additional information from lawyers of both parties — only extra copies of jury instructions.
The selection of the jurors did spur a healthy amount of discussion online Tuesday, after Rittenhouse himself helped randomly select who would deliberate and who would serve as an alternate from a pool of 18.
Judge Bruce Schroeder said late Tuesday that the practice of a defendant randomly choosing his or her jurors has been standard in his courtroom for the last 20 years.
Schroeder indicated the jury would reconvene at 9 a.m. Wednesday.
— Elliot Hughes
Jury expected to go home for the evening, no verdict reached Tuesday
Judge Bruce Schroeder says it appears the jury has decided to go home for the evening and continue deliberations Wednesday morning, according to reporters inside the courtroom.
The jury will return to the courtroom shortly to formally break for the day and receive jury instructions from the judge.
The judge said he is going to go "get dressed up," presumably in his robes, and then "dismiss the jury for the evening," according to the pool reporter.
— Ashley Luthern
Judge to check in with jury around 5 p.m.
Judge Bruce Schroeder expects to check in with jurors about 5 p.m. to see how long they want to continue deliberating Tuesday evening, according to a pool reporter in the courtroom.
He said his general policy is to defer to the jurors.
"I'll pretty much let them run the show," he said.
— Ashley Luthern
Rittenhouse's trial is happening in state court. Here's why the US DOJ was not involved.
Kyle Rittenhouse faces charges in state court with counts of intentional, reckless and attempted homicide and reckless endangerment.
A misdemeanor charge of possessing a firearm as a minor was dismissed Monday, and a curfew violation charge was dismissed last week.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shootings, has not faced any federal charges.
Federal law only applies in homicide cases in vary narrow circumstances, such as the crime occurring on federal land or the victim being an elected federal official.
Most criminal cases are handled at the state level. If Rittenhouse is cleared of state charges, it's very unlikely he would face any federal charges, said John P. Gross, professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School and director of the Public Defender Project.
Gross pointed out the following:
Rittenhouse is not accused of a hate crime. He is not a member of law enforcement and therefore cannot be charged with depriving anyone of their civil rights as a government agent. He is not accused of a robbery involving a federally insured business, like a bank, or interfering with interstate commerce.
Rittenhouse was not old enough to buy an AR-15 at the time and he was not the person who purchased the weapon. Rittenhouse, who lived in Illinois, did not take the gun across state lines to Kenosha. The AR-15 was stored at the Kenosha home of the person who purchased the weapon and Rittenhouse retrieved it there before going to the protests, according to testimony.
"I don't think there's any grounds for the DOJ to get involved, and that's true of most criminal cases," Gross said.
The buyer of the AR-15, Dominick Black, does face possible federal exposure related to the straw purchase of the firearm. Black testified during Rittenhouse's trial and he faces two charges of intentionally giving a dangerous weapon to someone under 18, resulting in death, in state court.
Federal authorities have looked into Black's purchase of the rifle, a spokesperson for the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told the Journal Sentinel earlier this year. Black testified he knew Rittenhouse was younger than 18 when he took Rittenhouse's money and purchased the gun for him.
— Ashley Luthern
Kyle Rittenhouse's mom seeks donations in son's legal defense
Wendy Rittenhouse signed a mass email sent Tuesday asking for more donations to her son Kyle’s legal defense fund.
The email was sent by Free Kyle USA, also known as the Milo Fund, a Nevada-based LLC that supposedly provides Wendy Rittenhouse with more control of the donations than a previous fund created by his former attorneys Lin Wood and John Pierce that garnered $2 million.
“Both the prosecution and my son Kyle’s defense team have finished their closing arguments and I am beyond nervous,” reads the email, according to a screengrab from CNN reporter Sarah Sidner.
As we wait forthe jury to return a verdict I received this email. It says it’s from #KyleRittenhouse’s mother and it is asking for donations.
It is written like many political emails I get from the GOP. Never seen anything like this during jury deliberations. pic.twitter.com/Bokb7To61p
— Sara Sidner (@sarasidnerCNN) November 16, 2021
“This corrupt persecution has been extremely difficult and I’m reaching out with an emergency request to help ensure it doesn’t bury us,” it continues.
The email is in the style of political campaigns’ fundraising emails. On social media Tuesday, news of the email prompted harsh words from Rittenhouse critics.
The email is signed: “Sincerely, Wendy Rittenhouse.”
— Sophie Carson
Don't expect to hear from prosecutors after the verdict
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, the lead prosecutor, and his colleagues will not convene a news conference or sit for media interviews after the jury reaches its verdict.
In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Binger said he consulted Wisconsin Supreme Court rules around ethics for prosecutors and trial publicity after receiving inquiries from media organizations.
"In light of these ethical guidelines, I have concluded that it would not be appropriate for our office to comply with your requests," Binger said.
Prosecutors have made a number of decisions that have drawn attention during the high-profile trial.
— Ashley Luthern
Jury asks for 11 additional copies of instruction packet
As of about 3 p.m. Tuesday there were few signs as to where jurors were at after more than five hours of deliberation.
The 12-person jury was sent away around 9:30 a.m. and since then, they have asked for more copies of jury instructions and broke for lunch.
The jury requested 11 additional copies of the 36-page instruction packet.
Lawyers from both parties were told to remain within 10 minutes of the courthouse should questions arise, but as of 3 p.m. none had.
The jury also took a break around 12:30 p.m. to eat pizza.
— Elliot Hughes
Vice president calls for focus on 'the facts and the evidence' in case
As Wisconsinites anxiously await a verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial, Vice President Kamala Harris is calling for the focus to be on "the facts and the evidence" presented in the Kenosha courtroom.
"As a former courtroom prosecutor, I can tell you that the focus should be on the facts and the evidence in the case, and I'm not going to comment on either," Harris said Tuesday in an interview with the Journal Sentinel.
Harris, who previously served as the district attorney of San Francisco and California's attorney general, repeated that the focus on should be on "the facts and the evidence that are presented in the courtroom."
On Monday, the judge in Rittenhouse's homicide trial ordered the jury to disregard the opinions of both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump in reaching a verdict.
"You will pay no heed to the opinions of anyone, even the president of the United States, or the president before him," Judge Bruce Schroeder said during jury instructions.
Schroeder's comments came after Rittenhouse's mother, Wendy, appeared on Fox News and accused Biden of defaming her son by portraying him as a white supremacist last year.
On Monday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki declined to weigh in on Biden's previous comments.
"What I'm not going to speak to right now is anything about an ongoing trial, nor the president's past comments," Psaki said. "What I can reiterate for you is the president's view that we shouldn't have, broadly speaking, vigilantes patrolling our communities with assault weapons."
— Mary Spicuzza
Was it unusual that Kyle Rittenhouse randomly picked the jurors who would be alternates?
On Tuesday morning, Kyle Rittenhouse drew six slips of paper from a rolling tumbler, similar to one used for bingo numbers or raffle tickets.
On each slip was the number of a juror. The six jurors he drew became alternates. The remaining 12 jurors left the courtroom to begin deliberations.
The visual of a defendant picking jurors, even randomly, drew attention online Tuesday.
The Associated Press spoke with several attorneys who said it was unusual but not illegal or unethical. Ion Meyn, an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, told the AP there's no ban on the practice, but usually the clerk of courts performs the task.
On Tuesday afternoon, journalists at the Kenosha courthouse reported that prosecutors said having a defendant select the alternates had become a tradition in recent years inside Judge Bruce Schroeder's courtroom.
A reporter with the Kenosha News noted the tumbler used Tuesday is original to the courtroom, which dates to the 1920s, according to the clerk of courts.
— Ashley Luthern
Kenosha religious leaders gather to pray for healing and peace
A few blocks from the clamor and impromptu debates on the steps of the Kenosha County Courthouse, local religious leaders gathered over the noon hour Tuesday to pray for the healing of Kenosha.
“Here in Kenosha we find ourselves on the banks of troubled waters,” Rabbi Dena Feingold told around three-dozen people gathered in Library Park, a quiet and graceful spot.
With the city on edge and waiting for the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse case, the religious leaders made a plea for the community to stick together and remain peaceful, no matter the decision of the jury.
“When the verdict is announced, some will celebrate that right has prevailed and justice was done. And others will shake with outrage and despair and ask, ‘where is justice?’ “ Feingold said.
Kevin Beebe, pastor of Spirit Alive Lutheran Church, noted that for now there is a crush of news media focused on Kenosha. But eventually, he said, the news crews will leave and “we are the people who will seek justice, seek peace, call for reconciliation.”
“When the verdict does come and you feel whatever you feel, know you are not alone,” said Monica Cummings, Assistant Minister of Pastoral Care at Bradford Community Church Unitarian Universalist.
Erik David Carlson, minister of Bradford Community Church, said the Rittenhouse trial “pits two of your most sacred American values against one another — individual liberty versus collective welfare.”
The event was organized by Religious Leaders Caucus of CUSH (Congregations United to Serve Humanity, the WISDOM organization in Kenosha County).
— Bill Glauber
As jury deliberates, mistrial motion remains pending
As the jury began weighing the case against Kyle Rittenhouse Tuesday, another legal issue remained in limbo before the court.
Last week, Rittenhouse's attorneys asked for a mistrial with prejudice, meaning if the judge granted their motion, prosecutors could not refile the charges.
As of Tuesday morning, Judge Bruce Schroeder had not issued a ruling.
If the jury comes back and acquits Rittenhouse in the fatal shooting of two people and the wounding of a third, the motion is moot.
But if the jury returns a conviction on any count, Schroeder will need to make a ruling.
Given those dynamics, legal experts told the Journal Sentinel it was somewhat unusual that Schroeder had not yet issued a ruling on the motion.
"I’m not sure why the judge has waited to rule," said Michael O'Hear, professor of criminal law at Marquette Law School, in a email. "It seems unlikely to me that he would have turned the case over to the jury if he expected to grant the mistrial."
Keith Findley, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, called the lack of decision "odd."
"The only reason I can think of for waiting is perhaps he wants to give the jury a chance to acquit so he doesn’t have to, but that’s speculation on my part," Findley, co-founder of the Wisconsin Innocence Project, said in an interview.
John P. Gross, professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School, said the delay possibly made sense in terms of the resources already expended in the case, which included eight days of testimony. Still, he said it was rare.
"It really should be off the table but as he’s shown during the trial, he likes to keep his options open," Gross said of the judge.
Read the full story here.
— Ashley Luthern
Explainer: Why did the judge drop the gun possession charge?
On its face, convicting Kyle Rittenhouse of illegally possessing a dangerous weapon looked like a slam dunk for prosecutors. Rittenhouse was 17 when he shot three people, killing two, with a semi-automatic rifle last year. Under Wisconsin law, anyone under 18 who possesses a dangerous weapon is guilty of a misdemeanor.
But from early on, Rittenhouse's attorneys have pointed to an exception in a confusingly worded statute that they argued makes it legal for 16 and 17-year-olds to carry rifles or shotguns as long as they are not short-barreled.
Rittenhouse’s AR-15-style rifle was not short-barreled.
Prosecutors argued that if the exception was interpreted that way, it would “swallow the whole statute” and wouldn’t make any sense. Under that interpretation, prosecutors said, 17-year-olds would be prohibited from possessing nunchucks, but allowed to carry loaded assault-style rifles.
Before ultimately dismissing the charge, Judge Bruce Schroeder said he had been “wrestling” with the statute for a while, calling it unclear.
"I'd hate to count the hours that I’ve put into it, and I’m still trying to figure out what it says, what is prohibited," Schroeder said Friday. "How are ordinary people supposed to know what’s against the law?"
On Friday, Schroeder said he would instruct the jury that Rittenhouse could not be convicted of the weapon possession charge unless the state proved his rifle had an unlawfully short barrel — something for which there was no evidence.
On Monday, prosecutors stood by their interpretation of the law that it prohibited Rittenhouse from carrying a firearm that night, but agreed that the weapon used by Rittenhouse was not short-barreled. The judge then immediately dismissed the charge.
The judge’s ruling is not precedential in the legal sense, said Keith Findley, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School and co-founder of the Wisconsin Innocence Project.
"It would take an appellate court ruling to make that binding in other courts," he said.
The "real problem" of the ruling isn’t the judge’s decision but rather when he made it, said John P. Gross, professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School and director of the Public Defender Project.
The defense had asked for the dismissal months ago and the judge denied it. The defense filed a motion for reconsideration and the judge still was not granting the motion to dismiss the charge but “he wasn’t definitive,” Gross said.
"Nothing about the evidence at trial requires that decision," Gross said. "That should have been made six months ago. That did hurt the prosecution. ...It’s the only charge that they were absolutely going to get a conviction."
If the judge had ruled months ago, prosecutors could have appealed and gotten a decision from an appellate court to say how the statute should be interpreted.
The Wisconsin law in question begins by defining dangerous weapons to include “any firearm, loaded or unloaded,” as well as things like Tasers and even nunchucks and throwing stars.
It then says, "Any person under 18 years of age who possesses or goes armed with a dangerous weapon is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor."
In part, the exception in question says that the prohibition on possessing dangerous weapons "applies only to a person under 18 years of age who possesses or is armed with a rifle or a shotgun if the person" has an illegal short-barreled rifle or shotgun or if the person doesn’t comply with hunting-related requirements in two separate sections of the law.
Rittenhouse's attorneys argued the hunting-related part does not apply in his case because one of the sections only applies to children under the age of 16.
This post includes information from the Associated Press.
— Sarah Volpenhein, Ashley Luthern, Bruce Vielmetti
Kenosha law enforcement, Evers reach out to public
As Kenosha law enforcement officials announced they have improved their response to large events since last year, Gov. Tony Evers urged peace in the city.
In a joint statement, the Kenosha Police Department and Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office said they “understand and recognize the anxiety surrounding the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.”
“Our departments have worked together and made coordinated efforts over the last year to improve response capabilities to large scale events. We have also strengthened our existing relationships with State and Federal resources,” the statement read.
The departments also said there is not a current need to set curfews or close roads.
In a statement posted to Twitter, Evers asked “all those who choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights in every community to do so safely and peacefully.”
“Any efforts to sow division and hinder that healing are unwelcome in Kenosha and Wisconsin. Regardless of the outcome in this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and across our state,” he said in the statement.
“Please respect the Kenosha community and their efforts to come together,” it continued.
Evers is sending 500 Wisconsin National Guard troops to the Kenosha area to be on standby at the conclusion of jury deliberations in case they are needed.
— Sophie Carson
Consultant for Simpson defense team working with Rittenhouse attorneys
A jury expert who was a consultant for O.J. Simpson’s defense team has been working with Rittenhouse’s attorneys.
Jo-Ellan Dimitrius has consulted in over 1,000 trials and picked over 600 juries, according to her firm’s website. She has worked on several high-profile cases and has spoken since the Simpson murder trial about determining the profile of the “perfect juror” who would acquit him.
The Washington Post reported Dimitrius helped the defense select the jury in Rittenhouse’s case.
“It is not exactly clear what services Dimitrius was brought on to provide for Rittenhouse’s defense or how long she has been helping,” the Post reported.
Dimitrius has been seen in the courtroom gallery, often sitting next to Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy. When Rittenhouse began crying on the witness stand, Wendy Rittenhouse also began crying. Dimitrius was seen hugging her and speaking to her.
— Sophie Carson
Jury deliberations begin in Rittenhouse trial
Following two weeks of proceedings and eight days of testimony, the jury in Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial has been sent away to deliberate.
Jury deliberations began shortly after 9 a.m.
Defense attorney Corey Chirafisi placed 18 slips of paper, each with a juror’s designated number, into a rolling tumbler similar to one used for bingo numbers or raffle tickets.
Rittenhouse was the one who pulled out the six pieces of paper.
The 12-person jury consists of five men and seven women; 11 white people and one person of color. Six alternates – three white males and three white females – will remain at the courthouse if they are needed.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder thanked the alternates for their time and said the court would try to arrange some kind of entertainment for them as they waited.
Attorneys for both parties were told to stay within 10 minutes of the Kenosha County Courthouse in case there are questions from the jury.
— Elliot Hughes and Sophie Carson
Our subscribers make this reporting possible. Please consider supporting local journalism by subscribing to the Journal Sentinel at jsonline.com/deal.
DOWNLOAD THE APP: Get the latest news, sports and more
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kyle Rittenhouse trial replay: Jury ends day 3 without verdict