Key moments from the initial days of the Rittenhouse trial
The State of Wisconsin moved forward with its case against Kyle Rittenhouse Tuesday. Prosecution put forward three witnesses in an attempt to convince the jury that Rittenhouse, who is now 18 years old, is guilty of two homicide counts and one count of attempted homicide.
In opening statements, the defense claimed that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he shot three people during the unrest in Kenosha that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Jr.
What is not in question in the case is that Rittenhouse killed two people and injured a third on August 25, 2020, while armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle. Defense counsel, Mark Richards, emphasized this in his opening remarks to jurors Tuesday.
“It isn't a 'who done it, when did it happen' or anything like that. It is ‘was Kyle Rittenhouse’s actions privileged under the law of self-defense.’ That is, that the defendant believed that there was an actual or imminent unlawful interference with his person. The defendant believed that the amount of force, which he used or threatened to use, was necessary to prevent or terminate interference. And that his belief was reasonable,” said Richards.
Rittenhouse was in Kenosha along with other armed civilians in an attempt to protect a business from fires and looting.
Richards said Rittenhouse was compelled to fire his gun after the first man he killed, Joseph Rosenbaum, ran after him, grabbed for Rittenhouse’s gun and caused him to fear for his life.
Rittenhouse’s interaction with Rosenbaum then set off a spiral of other confrontations between Rittenhouse and members of the crowd.
In the opening statement, defense counsel used dozens of stills from video footage taken by onlookers or livestreamed during the protest, as well as actual video.
“This is Mr. Rosenbaum in full stride, running after Kyle Rittenhouse. This is still from a video, and you'll see a lot of videos leading up to this. You'll see a video. I believe it's from Koerri Elijah, confronted by Mr. Rosenbaum, and he does a lot of confrontation,” Richards said.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said despite the self-defense claim, Rittenhouse was the aggressor.
Binger told jurors to look at the context of the night.
“We need to keep in mind the fact that there were hundreds of people on the street that night, experiencing the same chaos, the same loud noises, the same gunfire, the same arson, the same tear gas, the same hostile confrontations with people who believe the opposite of them. And yet, out of these hundreds of people, only one person killed anyone that night. Only one person shot anyone that night,” Binger said.
Binger said while prosecutors don’t know what words were exchanged between the two, at some point Rittenhouse initiated a confrontation with Rosenbaum, running after Rosenbaum.
Binger said the confrontation caused Rosenbaum to start running after Rittenhouse, ultimately closing in on him before Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum four times.
The state called three witnesses after the opening statements, in attempt to lay out its case. Dominick Black was the first to testify. Black was Rittenhouse’s friend, who bought him the AR-15 because Rittenhouse, then 17 years old, wasn’t old enough to buy one.
FBI agent Brandon Cramin testified about law enforcement aerial surveillance of the protest on the night of the shooting. He’ll likely be brought back later in the trial.
The day of testimony ended with Koerri Washington, a Kenosha resident who live streamed the events of that night. His testimony was scheduled to continue Wednesday morning.