9 takeaways from Kyle Rittenhouse trial closings

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Attorneys in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial sparred for the last time Monday during closing arguments, with prosecutors painting Rittenhouse as an inexperienced instigator and defense lawyers insisting the Illinois man fired in self-defense.

Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during street unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020. He has claimed self-defense, while prosecutors have argued he was an inexperienced and overmatched teen who provoked violence by showing up with a rifle.

Here are some takeaways from Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger and defense attorney Mark Richards’ closings:

“QUACK DOCTOR”

Binger painted Rittenhouse as a fraud. He said Rittenhouse told people at the protest that he was an emergency medical technician when he was really just a lifeguard.

Jurors listened to a full day of arguments before being told to return Tuesday morning for the start of deliberations in the case that has stirred fierce debate in the U.S. over guns, vigilantism and law and order.

Eighteen jurors have been hearing the case; the 12 who will decide Rittenhouse’s fate and the six who will be designated alternates will be determined by a drawing from a raffle drum.

Rittenhouse, then 17, shot two men to death and wounded a third during atumultuous night of protests against racial injustice in the summer of 2020.

Rittenhouse said he went to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to protect property from rioters in the days after aBlack man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a white Kenosha police officer. Rittenhouse, a former police youth cadet, is white, as were those he shot.

In closing arguments, prosecutor Thomas Binger called Rittenhouse a “wannabe soldier” who was “looking for trouble that night” — repeatedly showing the jury drone video that he said depicted Rittenhouse pointing the AR-style weapon at demonstrators.

“This is the provocation. This is what starts this incident,” the prosecutor declared. “You lose the right to self-defense when you’re the one who brought the gun, when you are the one creating the danger, when you’re the one provoking other people.”

Rittenhouse, now 18, faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him, first-degree intentional homicide, which is Wisconsin’s top murder charge.

Binger zeroed in on the killing of 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man gunned down that night and whose shooting set in motion those that followed. The prosecutor repeatedly called it murder, saying it was unjustified and reminded jurors that Rittenhouse testified he knew Rosenbaum was unarmed.

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