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.

Today’s Top Stories

More Americans are struggling to pay their energy bills.  Nearly 1.5 million more U.S. households ...
Curt Gresseth

Cost of heating homes in Utah rising as thermometer sinks

The cost of heating a home in Utah is rising because demand has increased and the drought in the West has cut into production.
18 hours ago
Friday, February 3 at noon, don't miss a special hour with KSL's BYU Insider Mitch Harper....
Ike Yospe

BYU Big 12 Preview Special

Friday, February 3 at noon, don't miss a special hour with KSL's BYU Insider Mitch Harper.
18 hours ago
Shots were reportedly fired in the parking lot of Taylorsville High School on Thursday afternoon, l...
BY MADISON SWENSON, KSL TV

Teen arrested for firing shots in Taylorsville High parking lot

A 17-year-old boy was arrested in connection to the shots fired last week in the parking lot of Taylorsville High School.
18 hours ago
Mr. Murphy, a basset posing as a bee, leans in to get a sniff of 5-year-old Alex Schilling during t...
Elizabeth Weiler

Humane Society of Utah says shelters are full, adoptions are needed

The Humane Society of Utah says their shelters are filling up, especially with large breed dogs and puppies.
18 hours ago
amber alert...
Adam Small

Suspect in Layton Amber Alert charged

LAYTON, Utah– Prosecutors in Davis County have officially filed charges against a man suspected of kidnapping a 13-year-old boy, which prompted police to send out an Amber Alert in December. New charging documents allege Aaron Michael Zeman, 26, also known as Tadashi Kojima, had been communicating with the 13-year-old Layton boy as far back as […]
18 hours ago
Tyre Nichols...
CNN

MLK invoked as Tyre Nichols’ life is celebrated in Memphis

Nichols, 29, who was Black, was subdued yet continuously beaten after a traffic stop by Memphis police on January 7. He died three days later.
18 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Judge dismisses weapons charge at Rittenhouse murder trial