The defence has rested its case at the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, setting the stage for closing arguments in the shootings that left Americans divided over whether he was a patriot taking a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante.
The judge indicated closing arguments could be held Monday at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis.
Rittenhouse’s lawyers completed their side of the case on Day 9 of the trial Thursday, a day after the 18-year-old told the jury he was defending himself from attack and had no choice when he used his rifle to kill two men and wound a third on the streets of Kenosha last year.
Prosecutors have sought to portray Rittenhouse as the instigator of the bloodshed, which took place during a tumultuous night of protests against racial injustice in August 2020.
Rittenhouse could get life in prison if convicted.
The Wisconsin protests were set off by the wounding of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer. Rittenhouse, then 17, went to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Ill., in what the former police and fire youth cadet said was an effort to protect property after rioters had set fires and ransacked businesses on previous nights.
Use-of-force expert testifies
Use-of-force expert John Black took the stand Thursday as part of an effort by Rittenhouse’s lawyers to show that the then-17-year-old had reason to fear for his life and acted in self-defence.
The defence has suggested to the jury that the relevant timeframe for determining whether Rittenhouse’s use of force was reasonable consists of just a few minutes around the shootings.
Black said it took less than three minutes from the time the first man who was shot that night, Joseph Rosenbaum, chased Rittenhouse across a car lot to the time Rittenhouse approached police after the shootings.
Prosecutors, for their part, have stressed a much longer window, saying the tragic chain of events occurred over hours, starting with Rittenhouse’s fateful decision to go to a volatile protest with a rifle.
Rittenhouse is white, as were those he shot. He has pleaded not guilty to all seven charges he faces, including two counts of homicide, one reckless and one intentional, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety.