Kyle Rittenhouse Defense Says Prosecutors Made ‘Political Case’
- Prosecutors and defense attorneys gave closing statements on Monday in Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial.
- Rittenhouse’s attorney, Mark Richards, accused prosecutors of making a “political case” and “cutting corners.”
- Prosecutors responded by accusing Richards of “gloating and boasting at his client’s kills.”
Kyle Rittenhouse’s lead defense attorney assailed prosecutors during a heated closing statement on Monday, accusing them of caving to public “pressure” and transforming the teenager’s trial into a “political case.”
Prosecutors charged Rittenhouse with fatally shooting Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz on August 25, 2020, during a night of civil unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse pleaded not guilty and testified that he shot all three men in self-defense after they attacked him.
He faces five charges: first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and two counts of reckless endangerment.
Rittenhouse’s lead attorney, Mark Richards, suggested in his closing statement that prosecutors long knew they had a faulty case against Rittenhouse and lacked evidence that the then-17-year-old provoked the shootings.
At one point he called Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger “the person who’s made it his goal of putting my client’s head on his wall.”
Throughout his closing statement, Richards named each of the witnesses presented by both prosecutors and the defense and described how many of them made statements that actually supported Rittenhouse’s claim to self-defense.
Richards played a number of video clips for the jury and emphasized that Rittenhouse opened fire only at the men who attacked him: Rosenbaum by lunging for his AR-15 rifle, Huber by hitting him with a skateboard, an unidentified man by kicking him in the head, and Grosskreutz by pointing a pistol at him.
Richards suggested the Kenosha County district attorney’s office had brought the charges out of fear of more violent unrest if they didn’t take action against Rittenhouse immediately.
“Were they under pressure? I’m sure they were. They were afraid there’s going to be another night of looting and destruction,” Richards said.
He also scoffed at prosecutors’ attempts to link Rittenhouse with extremists or white supremacists.
“Rush to judgment? As I said earlier, you bet. Highly charged atmosphere here in Kenosha? Make no mistake. You live here, you know. They had to do something,” Richards said. “They had to charge the ‘white supremacist’ who isn’t a white supremacist.”
Richards said prosecutors didn’t properly investigate the Rittenhouse case
Richards accused Binger of “cutting corners” during their investigation and noted that prosecutors announced the homicide charges against Rittenhouse before evidence had fully been collected, and before autopsy results revealed key details about how the shootings unfolded. At one point, Richards cited the testimony of the county medical examiner, who found a pattern of soot on the Rosenbaum’s hand. Richards said the soot indicated that Rosenbaum had been reaching for Rittenhouse’s gun.
Richards added that prosecutors never reassessed their case against Rittenhouse as they obtained more evidence throughout their investigation — particularly the video footage that shows all three men pursuing Rittenhouse. He even chastised police for failing to obtain and investigate Grosskreutz’s cellphone even though they had secured a warrant for it (prosecutors said they were following their interpretation of Marsy’s Law, a Wisconsin constitutional amendment protecting crime victims’ rights).
Richards accused prosecutors of “marching forward with this case because they need somebody to be responsible,” effectively punting their responsibilities to a jury of 12 Kenosha residents.
“They need somebody to put away and say, ‘We did it. He’s the person who brought terror to Kenosha,'” Richards said. “Kyle Rittenhouse is not that individual. The rioters, the demonstrators who turned into rioters, those are the individuals who bring us forth.”
In a rebuttal to Richards’ comments, Assistant District Attorney James Kraus accused Richards of getting “personal” in his closing statements.
“If not taking shots personally at Mr. Binger, it was gloating and boasting at his client’s kills,” Kraus said. At one point Richards had said he was “glad” Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum “because if Joseph Rosenbaum had gotten that gun, I don’t believe for a minute that he wouldn’t have used it on someone else.”
Prosecutors portrayed Rittenhouse as a ‘liar’ and an ‘active shooter’
Prosecutors in their closing statements sought to paint Rittenhouse as a “liar,” a “fraud,” and a “wannabe soldier” who had been looking for trouble in Kenosha that evening.
Binger pointed out that Rittenhouse lied to numerous people that night, falsely claiming he was an EMT. He suggested that Rittenhouse had never truly intended to protect the Kenosha car dealership that night, as the teenager has stated, and said no serious medic who genuinely intended to treat injured people would be toting an AR-15 rifle.
“He’s like a quack doctor practicing without a license,” Binger said. “He wrapped up an ankle and I think maybe helped somebody who got a cut on their hand. Yay. On the other hand, he killed two people, blew off Gaige Grosskreutz’s arm, and put two more lives in jeopardy.”
Binger labeled Rittenhouse an “active shooter” and alleged he had been the initial aggressor who provoked the deadly encounter with Rosenbaum by pointing his gun at Rosenbaum’s associate, Joshua Ziminski. Binger said Rosenbaum was unarmed and never posed any threat to Rittenhouse, and called the defense’s theory that Rosenbaum could have grabbed Rittenhouse’s rifle “cockamamie.”
“They know you can’t claim self-defense against an unarmed man like this. You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you’re the one who created the danger, when you’re the one provoking other people,” Binger said.
He added that the crowd of people who then began chasing Rittenhouse down Sheridan Road were justified in thinking that Rittenhouse was an “active shooter.”
Binger accused Rittenhouse’s attorneys of “hypocrisy,” arguing that Huber and Grosskreutz had been defending themselves when they approached Rittenhouse with a skateboard and a pistol, respectively.
“By their logic, [Rittenhouse] gets to run around with a gun all night, but, oh, we’re not supposed to take him as a threat,” Binger said. “The same rules apply to him and everyone else. And everyone else has a right to defend themselves also. Not just the defendant.”
The jury is set to begin deliberating Rittenhouse’s fate on Tuesday.