As the high-profile case against Kyle Rittenhouse -- 18-year-old charged with killing two people and injuring another during a protest last spring -- draws to a close, Wisconsin prosecutors announced Thursday that they would like jurors not to dismiss Rittenhouse's lesser charges.
Kyle Rittenhouse is called to the stand during his trial at Kenosha County Courthouse, November 10, 2021 in Kenosha. Getty Images
The Key Facts
Judge Bruce Schroeder was informed by Kenosha County's prosecutor that they intend to ask him for permission to add "lesser included charges" to Rittenhouse for two of the six counts against Rittenhouse. These include the shooting death of Anthony Huber, and the wounding Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse was originally charged with first degree intentional homicide and attempted 1st-degree intentional murder in the shootings by Huber and Grosskreutz. While the state is not planning to seek lesser charges in the shooting death Joseph Rosenbaum, which stands at first-degree reckless murdericide, the prosecutor James Kraus said that Rittenhouse faces two counts each of recklessly endangering life and one count of possessing a dangerous weapon by an under-18.
Reuters reports that Schroeder could agree to allow the jury to weigh lesser charges, such as second-degree homicide. This would lower the burden of proof in order to find Rittenhouse guilty. Julius Kim, a Wisconsin defense attorney, said that Rittenhouse asking for lesser charges against him -- who has claimed he acted in self defence -- could suggest that the prosecutors are worried about the strength and will "at this stage, they're willing... to give up life imprisonment for defendant in exchange for convictions on something."
What to Watch
Monday will see Rittenhouse's closing arguments. The judge will give instructions to the jury before they begin, and then jurors will decide.
Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum and Huber, as well as Grosskreutz, during a tension-filled nighttime protest in Kenosha that took place in summer 2020. This was sparked in part by the shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse, then 17, went to Kenosha with a medical kit, a gun and claimed he was protecting local businesses. He has maintained that he shot the men in self defense because he feared that they would attack him or try to steal his gun. Rittenhouse's lawyers, who admitted in opening arguments that the case was not a "whodunit", have focused their argument on self defense. Rittenhouse will be on Wednesday to testify about the shootings, but prosecutors are trying to portray Rittenhouse as a poor-trained vigilante who acted in an aggressor role.
Explainer: Would a jury consider Rittenhouse's lesser charges? (Associated Press).