Defense lawyer Mark Richards on Monday said during closing arguments in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial that his client “feared for his life” before the shooting that left two dead and one injured during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger is “lying” and “misrepresenting” the evidence when he told them that Rittenhouse provoked the violence on Aug. 25, 2020, Richards said. What’s more, Rittenhouse was trying to leave the scene of violent protests and riots when Joseph Rosenbaum, who was shot and killed during the incident, and other individuals chased him.
“Did you hear one word out of Mr. Binger’s mouth about provocation? You didn’t. But when his case explodes in his face, he comes out with provocation,” Richards said.
He continued to say that “we don’t play fast and loose with the facts” before asserting that “Rosenbaum was a bad man. He was a rioter. And my client had to deal with him alone.”
Rosenbaum was “leaping” and “lunging” at the defendant before trying to grab Rittenhouse’s AR-15-style-rifle, Richards argued. Speaking to the jury, he said the “physical evidence does not lie” and asked members to “use your common sense and judgment” when considering whether Rosenbaum was a threat to Rittenhouse during the shooting.
Witnesses who testified in the trial saw rioters breaking blocks of concrete into smaller pieces to throw or use to smash property, Richards said, adding that Rosenbaum, meanwhile, was described by Rittenhouse as “belligerent” and filled with “malintent.” In contrast, Richards said that Rittenhouse “was there to help” during nights of rioting, arsons, and looting.
Before Rittenhouse shot Anthony Huber, Huber “strikes him in the head” and was “trying to take his head off,” the lawyer argued.
And Richards called on the jury to disregard erroneous media reporting on Rittenhouse, including unfounded claims he was a white supremacist. Members of Rittenhouse’s family, including his mother, have publicly decried reporting on the trial and her son, leading some analysts to speculate that the teen could file a defamation lawsuit if he’s found not guilty.
Earlier, Binger said during closing arguments the jury should ignore Rittenhouse’s defense claim that he was attacked and fired his weapon, injuring one and killing two. Rittenhouse initiated the encounter by brandishing his gun, he asserted.
The AR-15-style rifle is “what provokes this entire incident,” Binger argued. “If you are the one who is threatening others you lose the right to self-defense,” the prosecutor added.
Earlier in the day, Judge Bruce Schroeder morning dismissed a misdemeanor weapons charge against the teen, noting that he had issues with the way in which the Wisconsin statute was written. His attorneys argued that Wisconsin’s statute had an exception, involving the barrel length of the rifle or shotgun, that could be read to clear Rittenhouse of the weapons charge.
Prosecutors had also conceded during Monday’s court proceeding that Rittenhouse’s rifle wasn’t short-barrelled. Schroeder then dismissed the charge.