November 29, 2021

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Judge in Rittenhouse trial allows jury to consider lesser charges in one of two killings – Reuters

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KENOSHA, Wisc., Nov 12 (Reuters) – The judge in the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse said on Friday he would allow the jury to consider lesser charges in the shooting of one of two men the defendant is charged with killing during racial justice protests in a Wisconsin city last year.

But Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled against the prosecution’s request to allow the jury to consider a lesser charge in the killing of a second man.

Prosecutors were seeking approval for less serious charges to be considered after days of testimony in which considerable evidence was presented to support the teenager’s argument that he acted in self-defense. Lesser charges generally lower the burden of proof for conviction.

Rittenhouse, 18, is charged in the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020. The shootings took place during protests that followed the police shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty and testified on Wednesday that he acted in self defense.

The shooting of Blake became a flashpoint in nationwide protests following the police killing of George Floyd months earlier in Minneapolis.

Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree reckless homicide in the death of Rosenbaum, first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Huber and attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting of Grosskreutz. He faces life in prison if convicted on those counts.

Schroeder ruled against the prosecution’s request for a lesser charge with Rosenbaum’s shooting, saying the evidence did not show that Rittenhouse could win acquittal on first-degree reckless homicide but found guilty on the second.

With Huber, Rittenhouse’s lawyers said they would accept jury consideration of second-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide but not second-degree reckless homicide. Unlike the higher charges, second-degree reckless homicide does not require proof that the teen exhibited an “utter disregard” for life.

After Rittenhouse’s lawyers indicated they were fine with the lesser charges, the judge agreed to instruct the jury on them.

The defense lawyers rested their case on Thursday after calling their final witness, a video journalist who testified that one of the men Rittenhouse fatally shot had charged and lunged at the teenager, who was 17 at the time of the shootings.

Schroeder said closing arguments in the trial would begin on Monday. He said the prosecution and defense would each have 2-1/2 hours to address the jury.

Reporting By Frank McGurty
Editing by Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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