The prosecution on Tuesday rested its case against Kyle Rittenhouse in his homicide trial after calling 22 witnesses over the course of six days, setting up the defense to potentially call Rittenhouse to the stand.
Once the prosecution rested, Judge Bruce Schroeder granted a defense motion to dismiss a curfew citation charge against Rittenhouse. Defense attorneys said prosecutors had failed to present any evidence that a curfew was in place, and the judge agreed.
The testimony so far has at times favored the prosecution's case that Rittenhouse committed five felonies and a misdemeanor in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on the night of August 25, 2020. Yet other evidence -- sometimes from the same witness -- has bolstered the defense's argument that Rittenhouse, then 17, acted in self-defense when he opened fire.
The events of that night, almost all captured on video, are hardly in dispute: Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-15-style rifle, fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum -- an unarmed man who was chasing the teenager -- and then shot at three other people who confronted him. Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber were killed, and Gaige Grosskreutz was wounded. The question before the jury, rather, is whether Rittenhouse's actions are to be considered reasonable or criminal.
On Monday, Grosskreutz, a paramedic out that night, testified that he believed the teenager was an active shooter and so pursued him and unholstered his own concealed firearm. He testified that he put his hands up when Rittenhouse pointed his AR-15-style rifle at him but believed Rittenhouse did not accept his surrender. Rittenhouse shot him in the right bicep.
"I was never trying to kill the defendant," Grosskreutz said. "In that moment, I was trying to preserve my own life, but doing so while taking the life of another is not something I am capable or comfortable doing."
However, Grosskreutz also admitted that he pointed his gun at Rittenhouse before he was shot.
"When you were standing three to five feet from him with your arms up in the air, he never fired, right?" defense attorney Corey Chirafisi said.
"Correct," Grosskreutz said.
"It wasn't until you pointed your gun at him, advanced on him with your gun -- now your hand is down pointed at him -- that he fired, right?" Chirafisi asked.
"Correct," Grosskreutz responded.
The paramedic also testified that his concealed carry license had expired, and he also admitted he incorrectly told investigators his gun had fallen out of his pants earlier in the night.
Rittenhouse fired his rifle eight times in all during the chaotic protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. He shot Rosenbaum four times; fired twice at an unknown man who tried to kick him; fatally shot Huber, who had hit him with a skateboard; and shot Grosskreutz in the arm.
Rittenhouse, now 18, has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and first-degree attempted intentional homicide.
The prosecution called 15 witnesses last week, including police, witnesses who filmed the shootings and armed men out in Kenosha that night. Five other witnesses testified on Monday, and two more testified on Tuesday.
Defense focuses on Rosenbaum as aggressor
Defense attorney Mark Richards said Rittenhouse fired only in self-defense. In opening statements, he described Rosenbaum as the aggressor in the initial shooting and said Huber and Grosskreutz were part of a mob who "attacked him in the street like an animal."
To make their case, the defense has repeatedly focused on what one witness described as Rosenbaum's "erratic" behavior that night. Cellphone and surveillance videos show he threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse and chased him across a parking lot before the teenager shot him.
Other video from earlier in the night showed Rosenbaum yelling, "shoot me (n-word)." One of the armed men said Rosenbaum had acted "belligerently" and another said he had threatened to kill him and Rittenhouse.
"He goes, 'You know, If I catch any of you guys alone tonight, I'm gonna f***ing kill you,'" according to Ryan Balch, a military veteran who brought his weapon into Kenosha that night.
Rosenbaum had just been released from the hospital that morning, his fiancée Kariann Swart testified. She said he was on an antidepressant as well as medication to treat bipolar disorder.
Richie McGinniss, a video editor with The Daily Caller news site, testified that Rosenbaum had lunged for the front of Rittenhouse's rifle moments before he was shot.
"It was as if, you know, if you were to lunge at somebody, if anybody were to lunge, they would probably stop themselves, you know, from falling face down on the ground, but the shots were fired in the exact instance that his momentum was going forward and that continued until Mr. Rosenbaum landed on the ground," McGinniss said.
McGinniss was just feet from the two when Rittenhouse opened fire, and McGinniss said he jumped out of the line of fire and then shook his legs out to make sure he hadn't been hit.
"Given where I was, certainly I was in danger," he said.
McGinniss' testimony is key to one of the charges against Rittenhouse -- a felony count of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
On Tuesday, a forensic pathologist testified that Rosenbaum was first shot in the front, bent forward into a horizontal position, and then was hit by a fatal bullet to the back.
Dr. Douglas Kelley with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office testified that Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum four times -- twice in the front, once in the back and once along the side of his head. Video of the shooting shows Rittenhouse fired at Rosenbaum's front, so Kelley determined that the fatal shot to his back came as his body leaned forward.
"The only time during the interaction in which he could have incurred the gunshot wounds to the back and to the right side of the head was when he was more horizontal, and the only time that happens is the last two gunshot wounds," Kelley said. "The first two gunshot wounds are represented by the injury to the groin and the injury to the left thigh."
Kelley said that horizontal position is consistent with a person either falling forward or lunging at someone. He also noted that Rosenbaum had a close-range gunshot wound to his hand.
"That hand was over the barrel of Mr. Rittenhouse's gun when his hand was shot?" defense attorney Richards said.
"That makes sense," Kelley responded.
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