Jury to get to weigh some lesser charges in Rittenhouse case

With a close verdict, Governor Tony Evers said Friday that 500 National Guard members would be prepared for service in Kenosha if local law enforcement officers asked them to do so.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of the shooting, is charged with willful homicide and other charges for the killing of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Großkreutz.

Wisconsin law allows the district attorney and defense to require that jury be notified that they can consider lesser charges as part of the instructions received before deliberating. Defense attorneys can appeal lesser charges, and in some cases they did so on Friday. For those to whom they had no objection Judge Bruce Schroeder asked Rittenhouse to confirm that he agreed with his lawyers’ decision.

Schroeder told Rittenhouse that adding the lesser counts “increases the risk of conviction, although you avoid the possibility of the jury ultimately compromising the more serious offense. And you also reduce the risk of having a second trial because the jury cannot agree. “

Rittenhouse said he understood.

Schroeder said he will make his final decisions on Saturday, but he gleaned some insights from the bank and hinted at how he might decide on others. On charges where the jury is allowed to consider lesser charges, they are instructed to consider them only if they first acquit Rittenhouse of the more serious original corresponding charge.

Friday’s skirmishes over the jury’s instructions were controversial at times, with attorneys rekindling the debates they had earlier on the case. When the prosecutors tried at one point to add an instruction that would allow the jury to examine whether Rittenhouse had been provoked, both sides argued about it what a particular photo showed. Schröder lost his temper and hissed: “You are asking me to give instructions. I want to see the best picture! “

Schroeder finally said he would allow the provocation instruction, which would ask the jury to examine whether Rittenhouse provoked Rosenbaum to attack him. If the jury found this, it would destroy self-defense.

Rittenhouse, now 18, faces charges of ruthless first degree homicide in the murder of Rosenbaum, who was the first person he shot after Rosenbaum pursued him in a used car parking lot. Prosecutors tried to bring charges of reckless second degree murder, but the defense appealed. Schroeder said he was unlikely to admit the lesser charge as he thought a guilty verdict on the lesser charge would be overturned on appeal.

Rittenhouse has also faced two first degree reckless endangerment charges: one for shooting an unknown man who tried to kick him in the face, and another for having a reporter in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum.

Schroeder said he was inclined to allow a lesser reckless second-degree endangerment allegation when it comes to endangering the reporter, but he couldn’t do it. He said he would not allow the lesser charge in the case of the unknown man who tried to kick Rittenhouse.

After Huber’s death, Rittenhouse also faces charges of first degree willful homicide. This is the heaviest charge against him and is punishable by life imprisonment. Huber swung his skateboard at Rittenhouse shortly after Rittenhouse killed Rosenbaum.

The defense had no objection to the addition of lower counts of second degree willful homicides and reckless first degree homicides in relation to Huber. She declined to add a second degree ruthless homicide charge. Schröder said he “embraced” this argument.

Rittenhouse is also facing charges of attempted first-degree murder for the shooting and wounding of Großkreutz in the arm. Großkreutz, with a gun in hand, confronted Rittenhouse immediately after Rittenhouse shot Huber.

Prosecutors requested, attempted to add premeditated second degree murder, reckless first degree endangerment, and reckless second degree endangerment. Rittenhouse attorney Corey Chirafisi had no objection to the number of attempted second degree murders, but declined to add the number of reckless endangerment and said he did not believe anyone “can try to be reckless”.

Schroeder said he would think about it, but was inclined to agree with the prosecutor.

Rittenhouse is also charged with possession of a dangerous weapon under the age of 18. What Schröder wanted to say to the jury about this allegation was not clear on Friday.

Legal observers said both sides scored some victories during the hearing. Julius Kim, a Milwaukee criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor, said no matter how confident Rittenhouse may be of his defense, accepting the lesser charge in the worst case minimizes the risk of him being convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.

“I think they recognize that it might be a good thing for Mr. Rittenhouse to allow the jury to possibly convict him of a lesser offense,” Kim said, adding that the defense’s lack of objection in this regard could signal that they are unsure of an acquittal.

Still, the fact that prosecutors are looking for a lesser offense is an “implied admission” that they are not confident that the jury will convict Rittenhouse on the original charges.

“I think they are trying to fix something at the time,” said Kim.

Michael O’Hear, a criminal law professor at Marquette University in Milwaukee, agreed, saying that the defense usually demands fewer charges.

“Ordinarily, the prosecutor would not ask for a less contained instruction if the prosecution has a very high level of confidence in the likelihood of conviction of the larger offense,” O’Hear said, noting that adding “practically invites the jury to compromise on the matter on the “lesser offense.”

The testimony in the case ended on Thursday after almost two weeks. The most exciting moment in the negotiation came when Rittenhouse told the jury that he was defending himself against assault when he shot the three men with his rifle.

The closing arguments will be on Monday, after which names will be drawn to decide which 12 jurors will deliberate and which will be released as deputies. Eighteen people heard the case. The panel seems overwhelmingly white, like Rittenhouse and the ones he photographed.

The protests were sparked when Blake was wounded by a white policeman. Rittenhouse went to protest with a rifle and medical kit, what the former police and fire department youth cadet said was an attempt to protect property after rioters started fires and ransacked shops over the past few nights.

The case has sparked a heated debate over vigilance, self-defense, the right to carry arms in the Second Amendment, and the unrest that has broken out in the United States over the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and other police violence against blacks.

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