By Ray Sanchez, Eric Levenson, Brad Parks, and Carma Hassan
Testimony in the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide trial in Wisconsin concluded Thursday, with closing arguments expected Monday in a high-profile case that has polarized the nation.
Jurors heard from more than 30 witnesses over eight days. The highlight came Wednesday when the 18-year-old defendant took the stand and offered dramatic testimony interrupted by tears and several heated exchanges between the judge and prosecutor.
Judge Bruce Schroeder told jurors that each side will have two and half hours for closings Monday before he instructs the panel on the law.
The jury of eight men and 10 women will be narrowed to 12 by a drawing of names, according to the judge.
The closely watched case has divided observers who consider the young man a do-gooder out protecting businesses from protesters against police brutality and others who saw an armed vigilante looking for trouble.
Rittenhouse’s testimony was crucial to both prosecution and defense arguments about his actions on the night of August 25, 2020. He shot at four people, killing two of them and wounding one. The prosecution sought to show that Rittenhouse’s actions were reckless and criminal, while the defense said he acted in self-defense.
Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to six charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and first-degree attempted intentional homicide. Schroeder dismissed a curfew violation charge Tuesday, saying prosecutors had failed to present evidence to support it.
Prosecutors told the court Thursday they intend to ask that jurors be allowed to consider lesser charges on some counts.
If convicted of the most serious charge against him, Rittenhouse faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Testimony lacked emotion of Rittenhouse’s hours on the stand
The defense called 10 witnesses over less than three days of testimony. Thursday lacked the emotion of Rittenhouse’s hours on the stand a day earlier.
Jurors heard from use-of-force expert John Black, who testified that fewer than three seconds passed between the time a protester fired a shot and Kyle Rittenhouse opened fire with his rifle in Kenosha.
Brittni Bray, a Kenosha police officer, testified about collecting shell casings from the shooting scene.
And Drew Hernandez, who shot video of the protests, testified that Rittenhouse tried to deescalate tensions at one point the night of the shooting. He told the jury that Joseph Rosenbaum — the first person to be shot — was “physically aggressive” even before his encounter with Rittenhouse.