Kelly Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to all five charges of shooting dead two people and seriously injuring a third during a night of unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last summer.
The jury returned its verdict on Friday afternoon after spending four days deliberating on the charges.
Mr Rittenhouse, 18, trembled uncontrollably before his knees gave way and he collapsed in his seat as he learned he would walk a free man off the court.
The teenager hugged her lawyer, who sobbed and gestured for her to take a deep breath.
Mr Rittenhouse was charged with five felony counts of first-degree reckless manslaughter, first-degree intentional manslaughter and attempted murder in the first degree, and two counts of first-degree negligent felony endangering safety.
The teenager, who was 17 at the time, armed with an AR-15-style rifle on 25 August 2020, in Antioch, Illinois, amid protests against the police shooting of a black man, Jacob Blake, on 25 August 2020. Traveled from home to Kenosha, Wisconsin.
He shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and also shot Gage Grosskretz, who survived.
Mr Rittenhouse claimed he acted in self-defense after being attacked by a mob. Prosecutors claimed Mr Rittenhouse incited the violence and then used lethal force.
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Mr Rittenhouse’s lawyer Mark Richards said the 18-year-old was looking to “move on with his life” and left the courthouse and went home as soon as the verdict was delivered.
“She is relieved, and she is eager to move on with her life. And the jury of 12 people found her not guilty meant the world to her in practical and symbolic ways,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, the family of one of the people he shot dead said they were “heartbroken” by his acquittal.
Mr Huber’s parents said: “We are saddened and outraged that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in the criminal trial of the murder of our son, Anthony Huber.”
“There was no justice today for Anthony, or for the other victims of Mr Rittenhouse’s Joseph Rosenbaum and Gage Grosskretz.”
Prosecutor Thomas Binger said in a statement that “the jury has represented and spoken to our community in this trial” after the verdict was returned.
The most serious charges against Mr Rittenhouse were first-degree willful manslaughter for the death of Mr. Huber and first-degree negligent manslaughter for the death of Mr. Rosenbaum.
Each of those charges carried a prison sentence of up to 60 years if convicted, with an additional five years for the use of a dangerous weapon.
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the sixth charge of possessing a weapon under the age of 18.
The misdemeanor charge was dropped last week due to technicalities in Wisconsin’s open carry law regarding the barrel length of a firearm.
The judge had earlier also dismissed another misdemeanor charge of violating curfew in the city that night.
Judge Schroeder also directed the jury to consider several so-called “less-involved” charges if they were unable to plead guilty on the initial charges.
After spending more than 24 hours over the past three days working on the case, the jurors began their fourth day of deliberations on Friday morning.
During the trial, video shown to jurors traced the shooting to the moment Mr Rittenhouse fired his first shot in less than four minutes in an attempt to surrender to police.
“If someone is hurt, I am on a path of harm. So I have my rifle with me because I need to protect myself, obviously, but I have my med kit with me too,” Mr. Rittenhouse told daily callerMcGinnis in a video.
Pointing to the other armed men with him, he said: “Their job is to protect me.
“We’re running therapy and we’re going in and we’re getting people,” he said.
Mr Rittenhouse did not provide medical aid to those he shot that night.
He claimed he was a “college student studying nursing at Arizona State University” in his testimony, though a university spokesman said he “did not go through the admissions process” and was not enrolled in its nursing program. He started a non-degree online program a few days before the start of the trial.
The footage showed Mr Rosenbaum, who was unarmed, following Mr Rittenhouse and throwing a plastic bag.
His fiancé testified that Mr Rosenbaum – who was released from a Milwaukee hospital earlier that day – was carrying paper, socks, deodorant, toothpaste and a toothbrush.
Before Mr Rosenbaum ran after Mr Rittenhouse, another man, Joshua Ziminsky, fired a “warning shot” nearby, according to a criminal complaint.
A few seconds later, Mr Rittenhouse – to face Mr Rosenbaum – fired four shots.
More videos show a group of people surrounding Mr Rosenbaum as he is bleeding on the ground. Mr Rittenhouse can then be seen running from the area.
“If I had let Mr. Rosenbaum take his gun from me, he would have used it and killed me with it and probably killed more people,” Mr. Rittenhouse told the court.
daily callerMcGinnis, who had interviewed Mr. Rittenhouse moments before the shooting, was following Mr. Rittenhouse and Mr. Rosenbaum, and ended up just a few feet away when Mr. Rittenhouse fired his gun for the first time – so Closer that Mr McGinnis said he checked to see if he had been shot.
Mr McGinnis, who was named as both a witness and a victim in the case, claimed that Mr Rosenbaum had first limped at Rittenhouse, and seconds later was comforting a dying Mr Roseumbaum.
“I was just telling him we were going to have a beer together later, and it was going to be all right,” he said.
In further footage, people can be heard shouting after Mr Rittenhouse as he jogs towards a police line.
According to the video presented at the trial, Gage Grosskretz, a street doctor armed with a pistol while chasing the crowd, called Mr Rittenhouse as he left the scene near Mr Rosenbaum.
“Hey what are you doing?” Mr. Grosskretz can be heard saying this. “You shot someone? Who shot?”
“At the time, the only thing I was concerned about was being shot,” she told the court.
“At the moment, I thought the defendant was an active shooter.”
The following video shows an unidentified man – known as the “Jumpkick Man” on the court – leaps over Mr Rittenhouse, who fires two shots and misses.
Mr Huber – who can be seen in the video chasing Mr Rittenhouse behind “Jumpkick Man” – swings his skateboard and grabs for Mr Rittenhouse’s rifle before Mr Rittenhouse shoots him in the chest.
Mr Huber was the second person killed that night.
After firing Mr. Huber, Mr. Rittenhouse fired a single shot at Mr. Groskretz, who was raising his arms near Mr. Rittenhouse a few moments before Mr. Rittenhouse fired.
Mr Grosskretz told the jury that his hand had “vaporized” at that threshold.
The video shows him kneeling on the ground as he holds out a bloody hand and screams for therapy.
Mr Rittenhouse – who fired a total of eight times that night – then walked away from the scene with his hands toward a row of armored law enforcement vehicles in front of him.
Kenosha Police Officer Pep Moretti testified that he did not see Mr Rittenhouse’s approach as an attempt to surrender.
He warned her to go back and her accomplice fired pepper spray from her squad car.
A headline on the UK homepage, which pertained to the article for nearly an hour on 19 November 2021, incorrectly stated that the people shot by Rittenhouse were black. They weren’t, and we’re happy to set the record straight.
Credit: www.independent.co.uk / Kyle Rittenhouse