Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial will go to the jury after closing arguments Monday — leaving the teen gunman’s mom “scared” and “overwhelmed” and the city of Kenosha, Wisconsin, bracing for a violent reaction.
Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder has allotted 2 1/2 hours each to the prosecution and Rittenhouse’s defense Monday before the jury starts its deliberations into the then-17-year-old’s triple shooting at riots last summer.
“I’m scared. I am overwhelmed,” the defendant’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, told NBC in an interview aired Monday.
“Twelve people have my son’s life in their hands,” she said of the dozen jurors. “I will always stand by him,” she vowed.
Officials and businesses in Kenosha are also fearing a repeat of the violent upheaval that rocked the city of about 100,000 people in August last year after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Photos show numerous buildings with boarded-up windows — many seemingly still there from the first round of riots last year that saw Black Lives Matter protesters torching often black-owned local businesses.
Gov. Tony Evers also ordered 500 National Guard troops into State Active Duty to support hundreds of law enforcement officers in preparation for possible upheaval.
Evers pleaded for roving protesters to stay away from his city, and asked those “who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully.”
Now 18, he faces charges ranging from intentional homicide — punishable by life in prison — to an underage weapons charge that could mean a few months in jail if convicted.
He testified that he was in fear of his life when shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, breaking down on the stand at the memory.
“I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself,” Rittenhouse told the court.
In her interview with NBC, Rittenhouse’s mom insisted her son was just one of many who “shouldn’t have been there” when large swathes of Kenosha went up in flames during the BLM riots.
“He went down there to help. And he was chased by a mob,” she insisted.
“He [brought] that gun for protection, and to this day if he didn’t have that gun, my son would’ve been dead,” she said.
As well as his own testimony, Rittenhouse was backed by numerous witnesses who also gave compelling accounts reinforcing the teen’s argument that he opened fire in self-defense, legal experts have said.
Videographer Richie McGinniss testified that Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse and lunged for his rifle right before Rittenhouse shot him. Military veteran Ryan Balch also testified that Rosenbaum threatened to kill Rittenhouse and others if he got them alone.
Grosskreutz — the only man shot who survive — also admitted that he was only shot when he pointed his own handgun at the already under-attack teen.
Seemingly confirming their own fears at the evidence, prosecutors asked the judge to allow jurors to consider lesser charges if they acquit on the original counts.
“I believe a reasonable jury and a reasonable juror could, based on the defendant’s own testimony, not find utter disregard for human life,” prosecutor James Kraus told the judge of the standard needed for the most serious charges.
While ordering National Guard cover, Gov. Evers said that the verdict was coming at a time when the city of about 100,000 people was still “healing.”
Justin Blake, a 52-year-old uncle of the man p[aralysed in the police shooting that set off the initial riots, insisted to NBC that “most of the people seem as though they want a conviction.”
“For the Blake family, it’ll be a small token of victory, because these people were gathered around after coming from Jacob Blake’s rally,” he told the outlet.
Insisting that Rittenhouse “shouldn’t have been here with this weapon,” the elder Blake said, “This case could set a precedent about gun rights.”
John Eason, an assistant sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, predicted it could be a pivotal moment against “the whole racial awakening” from last year.
“All signs are this is going to be the case that vindicates white people,” Eason predicted.
“If the peak of the country’s social justice reckoning was George Floyd, then this is the pendulum swinging back. This is the tipping point back,” the professor told NBC.
With Post wires