Judge dismisses weapons charge at Rittenhouse murder trial

Nov 15, 2021, 10:15 AM | Updated: 11:14 am

Rittenhouse murder trial...

Kyle Rittenhouse, center, makes his way to his seat at the beginning of the day at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

(Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) — The judge at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial Monday dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, a misdemeanor that had appeared to be among the likeliest of the charges to net a conviction for prosecutors.

The judge then launched into 36 pages of legal instructions to the jury, explaining the charges and the laws of self-defense. After that, the two sides were expected to deliver closing arguments, the final word before the jury was to begin deliberations.

Rittenhouse, 18, killed two men and wounded a third in the summer of 2020 during a turbulent protest against racial injustice, in a case that has underscored bitter division in the U.S. Supporters have hailed him as a hero who took a stand against lawlessness; foes have branded him a vigilante.

He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him, first-degree intentional homicide.

The underage weapon charge was punishable by up to nine months in jail.

There is no dispute that Rittenhouse was 17 when he carried an AR-style semi-automatic rifle on the streets of Kenosha and used it.

But the defense argued that Wisconsin law has an exception related to the length of a weapon’s barrel. Prosecutors argued that the defense was misreading the statute. Judge Bruce Schroeder had twice sided with prosecutors earlier in declining to dismiss the charge, but he also said the law was confusingly written.

After prosecutors conceded Monday that Rittenhouse’s rifle was not short-barreled, the judge threw out the charge.

Public interest in closing arguments was evident in the morning, when more people than usual stood in a line outside Courtroom 209 to get a seat.

Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, listened intently in court during the jury instructions.

Rittenhouse traveled the few miles from his home to Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, as the city was in the throes of destructive protests that erupted after a white police officer shot and wounded Jacob Blake, a Black man. Rittenhouse said he went there to protect property.

Bystander video captured the critical minutes when Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 28.

Rittenhouse is white, as are the three men he shot. The case has polarized Americans, raising questions about racial justice, vigilantism, the Second Amendment right to bear arms, and white privilege.

Rittenhouse testified that he feared for his life and acted in self-defense. Prosecutors contended he was the aggressor that night and created a dangerous situation in the first place by showing up with a rifle.

But some of the prosecution’s own witnesses — and a wealth of video — largely supported his claims of self-defense.

Perhaps in recognition of that, prosecutors asked the judge to let the jury consider several lesser charges if they acquit him on the original counts. Schroeder agreed to do so Monday.

In the case of Huber’s slaying, the judge said that if jurors find Rittenhouse is not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, then they can weigh whether he is guilty of second-degree intentional homicide. If he is not guilty of that count, then they can decide whether he is guilty of first-degree reckless homicide

In his instructions, the judge said that to decide that Rittenhouse acted lawfully in self-defense, the jury must find that he believed there was an unlawful threat to him and that the amount of force he used was reasonable and necessary.

Among the prosecution witnesses was videographer Richie McGinniss, who testified that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and lunged for his rifle right before he was shot. Ryan Balch, a military veteran in Rittenhouse’s group that night, testified that Rosenbaum had threatened to kill Rittenhouse and others if he got them alone.

Grosskreutz, for his part, acknowledged on the stand that he approached Rittenhouse with a gun of his own pointed at the young man. As for Huber, he hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard before he was gunned down.

Among the trial’s most compelling moments was Rittenhouse’s own testimony. In some six hours on the stand — most of it poised and matter-of-fact — he said he was afraid Rosenbaum would take away his gun and kill him and others. He said he never wanted to kill anyone.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself,” Rittenhouse said.

After closing arguments, names were to be drawn to determine which 12 of the 18 jurors who heard testimony would deliberate, with the rest dismissed as alternates.

With a verdict near, Gov. Tony Evers said that 500 National Guard members would be prepared for duty in Kenosha if local law enforcement requested them.

___

This story has been updated to correct Gaige Grosskreutz’s age to 28.

___

Bauer reported from Madison and Forliti reported from Minneapolis.

___

Find AP’s full coverage of the Rittenhouse trial: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

The New Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital, Miller Family Campus, in Lehi is dedicated at ...

Heather Peterson

One third of Utah hospitals not in compliance with hospital price transparency law

Hospitals have been required to post a list of the prices they charge for services since January 1, 2021.

49 minutes ago

Noah Pirkle snowshoes by the Mill B trailhead in Big Cottonwood Canyon on Monday, Jan. 15, 2024....

Carter Williams

Comparing Utah’s snowpack this winter with the rest of the West

Utah's mountains gained 12.9 inches of snow water equivalent, otherwise known as snowpack, between the season start on Dec. 1 to its end on Thursday

2 hours ago

Cookie Monster has taken to X to express his frustration over shrinking products, aka: "shrinkflati...

Bryan Mena

Even Cookie Monster is complaining about the US economy

“Me hate shrinkflation! Me cookies are getting smaller,” Cookie Monster posted on X. “Guess me going to have to eat double da cookies!”

2 hours ago

Macy Schmidt, the founder of The Sinfonietta, conducts the group....

Mariah Maynes

Barbie The Movie: In Concert features all-women orchestra, coming to Utah

"Barbie the Movie: In Concert" features an all women orchestra. And the film featured an all-women team of production and tech professionals.

3 hours ago

Thousands of pounds of Trader Joe's chicken soup dumplings have been recalled due to possible conta...

Jamie Gumbrecht, CNN

Trader Joe’s chicken soup dumplings recalled for possible contamination

The manufacturer, CJ Foods Manufacturing Beaumont Corporation, said customers found hard plastic in the dumplings. 

3 hours ago

tumbleweed...

Becky Bruce

South Jordan still cleaning up after tumbleweed take over

The invasive and non-native tumbleweeds blew into South Jordan on Saturday, blocking streets, driveways and even entire homes. 

4 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Judge dismisses weapons charge at Rittenhouse murder trial