Kyle Rittenhouse Opening Statements Paint 2 Different Pictures

Trial of teen accused of killing 2 during Kenosha protests gets underway
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Nov 3, 2021 1:31 AM CDT
Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Gets Underway
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger presents opening statements to the jury during the Kyle Rittenhouse trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis, on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2021.   (Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP)

Jurors heard starkly different portrayals of Kyle Rittenhouse—instigator or victim—in opening statements at his trial Tuesday on charges of shooting three people on the streets of Kenosha during a turbulent protest against racial injustice, the AP reports. A prosecutor said Rittenhouse set the bloodshed in motion when he triggered a confrontation with a man that night and then killed him with a bullet to the back. But Rittenhouse's attorney told the jury that his client acted in self-defense after the man tried to grab Rittenhouse's gun and others kicked the then-17-year-old in the face and clubbed him in the head with a skateboard. Rittenhouse, now 18, is charged with killing two men and wounding a third during the summer of 2020 with an assault-style rifle. The one-time aspiring police officer could get life in prison if convicted.

The first witness called after opening statements was Dominick Black, who was dating Rittenhouse's sister at the time. Black faces charges he bought the rifle for Rittenhouse months before the shootings because the teen was not old enough to own one at the time. Black testified that he and Rittenhouse went to downtown Kenosha to help protect a car dealership after vehicles were burned the night before. Black said he thought nobody would start trouble if they saw him with his assault-style rifle. He also said Rittenhouse helped give medical aid and put out fires. After the shootings, Black said, Rittenhouse was “freaking out. He was really scared. He was pale, shaking a lot.” Black said Rittenhouse told him that he acted in self-defense because “people were trying to hurt him.” Testimony is expected to continue Wednesday.

Prosecutor Thomas Binger said that it is not known exactly what words were said, but it is clear that Rittenhouse started a confrontation that led Joseph Rosenbaum to begin chasing Rittenhouse across a parking lot. Binger emphasized that Rosenbaum, 36, was killed by a shot to the back after he threw a plastic bag. The first two bullets hit Rosenbaum in the lower extremities, causing him to fall forward, the prosecutor noted. But Richards, the defense attorney, argued that it was Rosenbaum who “lit the fuse that night." Rosenbaum yelled an expletive at Rittenhouse and lunged for his gun before Rittenhouse fired at him, according to the defense. Moments after shooting Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, 26, a protester from Silver Lake, Wis., who was seen on bystander video hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. The defense attorney portrayed Rittenhouse as the victim, saying Huber was “trying to separate the head from the body” with the skateboard.

(Read more Kyle Rittenhouse stories.)

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