A jury has been selected in a single day for the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the young aspiring police officer who shot three people while they were on the streets of Kenosha during a protest against racial injustice. ‘last year.
Opening statements are expected to begin Tuesday morning.
The jury in the politically charged case must decide whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense, as his lawyers claim, or whether he was engaged in vigilance when the 17-year-old opened fire with a rifle AR-15 style semi-automatic in August 2020, killing two men and injuring a third.
In a one-day session that took place well after dark, 20 people – 12 jurors and eight alternates – were selected. The judge said he would decide at the end of the trial which ones are deputy and which will deliberate. The 20 consist of 11 women and nine men.
Jurors were not asked to identify their race during the selection process, and the court did not immediately provide a racial breakdown of the group.
The jury selection proceeded quickly, given the strong polarization caused by the case. A dozen candidate jurors were fired because they had strong opinions on the case or doubted they could be fair.
Rittenhouse had traveled to Kenosha from his home in Illinois during unrest that erupted after a white Kenosha policeman shot Jacob Blake, a black man, in the back. Rittenhouse said he traveled there to protect property after two previous nights marked by arson, gunfire and the rampage of businesses.
Rittenhouse, now 18, faces life in prison if convicted of first degree manslaughter, the most serious charge against him.
Rittenhouse has been portrayed by right-wing supporters – including enemies of the Black Lives Matter movement – as a patriot who has taken a stand against protestor lawlessness and exercised his Second Amendment gun rights. Others see him as a vigilante and an aspiring police officer.
He is white, just like those he shot dead, but many activists see an underlying racial current in the case, in part because the protesters were on the streets speaking out against police violence against blacks.
As jury selection began, Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder repeatedly stressed that jurors should decide the case only on what they hear in the courtroom, and warned: “This is no it’s not a political trial. “
“It was mentioned by both political campaigns and last year’s presidential campaign, in some cases very, very recklessly,” he said.
The judge said Rittenhouse’s constitutional right to a fair trial, not the Second Amendment right to bear arms, would come into play, and “I don’t want him to be sidelined on other issues.”
One of the jurors is a female gun owner with a high school diploma who said she was so scared during the protests that she parked her cars in the back of her house and walked away. assured that its doors were locked. She said she walked downtown in stride and cried.
Another chosen woman is a special education teacher who expressed concern about being on the jury: “I guess either way you’re going to have half the country mad at you and they react badly.
Another juror, a man, said he owned a gun and had it for “home defense”.
One juror is a pharmacist who said she was robbed at gunpoint in 2012, but that would have no effect on her ability to weigh the evidence in this case.
Among those excluded from the case were a man who said he was at the site of the protests when “everything happened” and a woman who said she watched a live video of the events and wasn’t sure if she could put aside what she saw.
One person was taken out of the case after saying he believed in the biblical injunction “Thou shalt not kill” even in self-defense.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger also called for the dismissal of a woman who said she had a biracial granddaughter who had participated in some of the protests and could not be impartial. Rittenhouse’s lawyers had no objection.
Rittenhouse’s lawyer had a potential juror withdrawn after saying she would find Rittenhouse guilty of all charges simply because he carried an assault-type weapon. “I don’t think a gun like this should be in the general public,” the woman said.
The start of jury selection was briefly delayed in the morning for unexplained reasons. During the time limit, the judge played a simulated game of “Jeopardy! With potential jurors in the courtroom, which he sometimes does when lawyers organize themselves.
Rittenhouse shot dead Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, after Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse through a parking lot and threw a plastic bag at him shortly before midnight on August 25. Moments later, as Rittenhouse was running down a street, he shot dead 26-year-old Anthony Huber. , a protester from Silver Lake, Wisconsin, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, a protester from West Allis, Wisconsin.
A viewer video captured Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse but not the actual shoot. The video showed Huber swinging a skateboard in Rittenhouse before he was shot. Grosskreutz had a gun in his hand as he walked towards Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse faces two counts of homicide and one of attempted homicide, as well as charges of reckless endangerment and unlawful possession of a dangerous weapon by someone under the age of 18.