Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all charges

By Adrienne Vogt, Aditi Sangal, Meg Wagner, Melissa Macaya and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 0451 GMT (1251 HKT) November 20, 2021
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2:57 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Prosecutor in Rittenhouse trial: "While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected"

From CNN's Omar Jimenez

Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger listens in court on November 16.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger listens in court on November 16. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News/Pool/AP)

Following the acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges, Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, the lead prosecutor in this case, said in a statement that "while we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected."

“We are grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations. The Kenosha community has endured much over the past 15 months, and yet we remain resilient and strong. We ask that members of our community continue to express their opinions and feelings about this verdict in a civil and peaceful manner,” Binger continued.
3:46 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Biden reacts to Rittenhouse verdict: "The jury system works, and we have to abide by it"

From CNN's Nikki Carvajal

(Alex Brandon/AP)
(Alex Brandon/AP)

President Biden said he did not watch the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, but he stands by the verdict and the judicial system.

He made the comments upon returning to the White House after his routine physical exam at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

“I just heard a moment ago,” Biden said, when asked about Rittenhouse being found not guilty on all counts. “I didn’t watch the trial.” 

Asked if he stood by his past comments equating Rittenhouse to a white supremacist, Biden didn’t directly answer. 

“Look, I stand by what the jury has concluded,” he said. “The jury system works, and we have to abide by it.” 

In a statement released by the White House later Friday afternoon, Biden acknowledged that the verdict “will leave many Americans feeling angry and concerned, myself included,” adding that everyone “must acknowledge that the jury has spoken.” 

Biden said he “ran on a promise to bring Americans together, because I believe that what unites us is far greater than what divides us.”

“I know that we’re not going to heal our country’s wounds overnight, but I remain steadfast in my commitment to do everything in my power to ensure that every American is treated equally, with fairness and dignity, under the law,” the statement reads. 

2:46 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Wisconsin governor calls for peace and says state has "work to do" following Rittenhouse verdict 

From CNN’s Carma Hassan 

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said Kyle Rittenhouse’s trial has “reopened wounds that have not yet fully healed” and called for peace in Kenosha following the teen’s acquittal. 

“No verdict will be able to bring back the lives of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, or heal Gaige Grosskreutz’s injuries, just as no verdict can heal the wounds or trauma experienced by Jacob Blake and his family. No ruling today changes our reality in Wisconsin that we have work to do toward equity, accountability, and justice that communities across our state are demanding and deserve,” Evers said in a statement. 

Evers urged Wisconsinites to move forward and said “any efforts or actions aimed at sowing division are unwelcome in our state as they will only hinder that healing.”

3:02 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Rittenhouse has a "huge sense of relief" following acquittal, says defense attorney

From CNN's Josiah Ryan

Kyle Rittenhouse hugs one of his attorneys Corey Chirafisi after he is found not guilty on all counts on Friday.
Kyle Rittenhouse hugs one of his attorneys Corey Chirafisi after he is found not guilty on all counts on Friday. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News/Pool/AP)

Mark Richards, Kyle Rittenhouse's defense attorney, said his client is eager to get on with his life and is feeling a great sense of relief following his acquittal on all five counts against him today.

"He wants to get on with his life," said Richards, speaking at a news conference outside the courthouse. "He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this would have ever happened."

Richards said Rittenhouse has had 24-hour security and does not anticipate that he will continue to live in the area.

"I think eventually some anonymity will come back to it," he said, adding Rittenhouse has ambitions to become a nurse.

Richards reiterated the defense's argument that Rittenhouse was not responsible for the violence that occurred that night in Kenosha.

"As he said when he testified, he did not start this and we're thankful, in more ways than one, that the jury finally got to hear the true story," he said.

2:44 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Rittenhouse defense attorney says it "wasn't a close call" to put him on the stand

From CNN's Elise Hammond

(CNN)
(CNN)

Mark Richards, one of the defense attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse, said it "wasn't a close call" to put him on the stand.

"Had to put on him. It wasn't a close call," Richards said in an exchange with reporters after the verdict was read on Friday.

"At certain points we wondered whether we would put him on. We had a mock jury and we did two different jurors, one with him testifying and one without him testifying and it was substantially better when he testified," he added.

"In Wisconsin if you don't put a client on the stand, you're going to lose, period," Richards said.
2:44 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

CNN legal analyst on why the prosecution's case did not persuade the jury

From CNN's Elise Hammond

(CNN)
(CNN)

Laura Coates, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, said she was not surprised the jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges because of the jury instructions and the execution of the prosecution's argument.

The prosecutors were trying to make a case about an active shooter, arguing that everyone else who responded to Rittenhouse's actions that night were actually the one's acting in self-defense. Coates said, in the end, it wasn't compelling.

"That proved unpersuasive it seems to this particular jury for two reasons. One, Wisconsin is a place that has a gun culture that's not synonymous with criminal activity. The idea of saying you want to alienate a gun owner would not have been persuasive enough. The idea of saying, hey, they were acting in self-defense might have been compelling, except for the jury instruction," Coates explained.

She said the jury instruction said jurors had to look at the case through the eyes of then 17-year-old Rittenhouse, not in hindsight. The jurors had to access the reasonableness of Rittenhouse's actions and decide whether it was his belief that he had to use self-defense.

"When you saw him take the stand and explain why he himself thought he was in lethal danger at that point, that probably was the one that tipped the needle," Coates said.

"He believed that it was reasonable to do so and now the burden went back to the prosecution where it always should stay to say, hey, we have proven that he was not reasonable in his belief, that he was in a kill or be killed scenario," she added.

Wisconsin law requires that when a self-defense claim is raised, prosecutors must disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, not the other way around as it is in other jurisdictions, Coates explained.

In order for the prosecution to successfully make its active shooter argument, attorneys would have had to present evidence that disproves Wisconsin's self-defense threshold, according to Coates.

"Of course, the two people who were killed might have been in a position to do so, but they couldn't testify, they were dead," she said, adding that the third person who was shot, Gaige Grosskreutz testified that Rittenhouse fired when Grosskreutz aimed his gun at him.

2:36 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Rittenhouse jurors looked "fatigued" as verdict was read, reporter says

From CNN's Brad Parks

As the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict was read Friday afternoon, "some jurors looked fatigued in the jury box," according to a pool reporter in court.  

"The jury forewoman, in a jean jacket and wearing a face mask, handed the verdicts to a court official, who passed them to the judge for review," the reporter said.

"Some with their hands on their chins or rubbing their eyes. Others appeared ill-at-ease, shifting in their chairs or folding their arms across their chests," the reporter added. 

Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of killing two people and shooting another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer was found not guilty on all five charges against him. 

2:15 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

These are the 5 charges Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted of

Kyle Rittenhouse reacts after being found not guilty on all counts on Friday.
Kyle Rittenhouse reacts after being found not guilty on all counts on Friday. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News/Pool/AP)

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager accused of killing two people and shooting another during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer has been found not guilty on all charges

The jury of five men and seven women deliberated more than 25 hours over the past four days in a closely watched case.

If convicted on the most serious charge, Rittenhouse would have faced a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

These are the charges he was acquitted of:

Count 1: First-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon

Count 1 states Rittenhouse recklessly caused the death of 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum under circumstances that showed utter disregard for human life.

Wisconsin law allows the use of deadly force only if "necessary to prevent imminent death or great bodily harm."

Count 2: First-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon

Count 2 states Rittenhouse recklessly endangered the safety of Richard McGinniss — a journalist with the conservative Daily Caller — under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life.

Count 3: First-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon

Count 3 states Rittenhouse recklessly endangered the safety of an unknown male, referred to as "jump kick man" in court, under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life.

The man jumped at Rittenhouse at one point, trying to kick him and the teen opened fire. "I thought if I were to be knocked out, he would have stomped my face in if I didn't fire," he said. Rittenhouse fired at the man twice and missed.

Count 4: First-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon

Count 4 states Rittenhouse caused the death of 26-year-old Anthony Huber, with intent to kill him. It's the most serious charge he faced, with a mandatory life sentence. Huber swung his skateboard at Rittenhouse after Rosenbaum was fatally shot.

Prosecutors asked that the jury also be instructed on second-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and second-degree reckless homicide.

Defense attorneys objected to second-degree reckless homicide. The judge said he "embraced" the defense's argument. But he would likely allow lesser charges of second-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide.

Count 5: Attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a weapon

Count 5 states Rittenhouse attempted to cause the death of 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz, with intent to kill him.

After shooting Huber, Rittenhouse testified, he saw Grosskreutz lunge at him and point a pistol at his head. Rittenhouse shot him, he testified. Grosskreutz was wounded.

Grosskreutz testified he pulled out his own firearm because he believed Rittenhouse was an active shooter.

Prosecutors asked for lesser charges of attempted second-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree reckless endangerment. Schroeder said he was inclined to agree with the prosecution.

Rittenhouse, wearing a dark jacket with a burgundy tie and shirt, stood behind the defense table as each not guilty verdict was read. He tried to hold back tears, then sobbed and appeared to collapse forward on the table, where he was held by one of his lawyers.

Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a misdemeanor weapons possession charge and a non-criminal curfew violation prior to deliberations.

Read more about how the trial unfolded here.

2:27 p.m. ET, November 19, 2021

Family of Anthony Huber: "There is no accountability for the person who murdered our son"

From CNN's Jason Kravarik

Anthony Huber
Anthony Huber (from GoFundMe)

The family of Anthony Huber, one of the men who was fatally shot by Kyle Rittenhouse during unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer, said in a statement that "there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son," following the acquittal of Rittenhouse.

Here's their full statement:

"We are heartbroken and angry that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in his criminal trial for the murder of our son Anthony Huber. There was no justice today for Anthony, or for Mr. Rittenhouse’s other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz. 
We did not attend the trial because we could not bear to sit in a courtroom and repeatedly watch videos of our son’s murder, and because we have been subjected to many hurtful and nasty comments in the past year. But we watched the trial closely, hoping it would bring us closure. 
That did not happen. Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street. We hope that decent people will join us in forcefully rejecting that message and demanding more of our laws, our officials, and our justice system. 
Make no mistake: our fight to hold those responsible for Anthony’s death accountable continues in full force. Neither Mr. Rittenhouse nor the Kenosha police who authorized his bloody rampage will escape justice. Anthony will have his day in court.
No reasonable person viewing all of the evidence could conclude that Mr. Rittenhouse acted in self-defense. In response to racist and violent calls to action from militia members, Mr. Rittenhouse travelled to Kenosha illegally armed with an assault rifle. He menaced fellow citizens in the street. Though he was in open violation of a curfew order, Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently. Kenosha police told militia members that they would push peaceful protestors toward the militia so that the militia could “deal with them.” Soon after, Mr. Rittenhouse killed Joseph Rosenbaum. The police did nothing. Concerned citizens, confronted with a person shooting indiscriminately on the street, stepped in to stop the violence. Anthony was shot in the chest trying to disarm Mr. Rittenhouse and stop his shooting spree. Still, the police did nothing. Mr. Rittenhouse continued to shoot, maiming Gaige Grosskreutz. The police let Mr. Rittenhouse leave the scene freely. Mr. Rittenhouse came to Kenosha armed to kill. Kenosha police encouraged him to act violently, and our son is dead as a result.
We are so proud of Anthony, and we love him so much. He is a hero who sacrificed his own life to protect other innocent civilians. We ask that you remember Anthony and keep him in your prayers.
-Karen Bloom & John Huber"