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Kyle Rittenhouse Trial: Judge Dismisses Gun Charge Before Closing Arguments Begin

CHICAGO (CBS)-- Ahead of closing arguments and jury deliberations in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Kenosha, the judge dismissed an illegal gun possession charge against the teen.

While discussing the instructions that will be given to the jury on Monday, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 against Rittenhouse.

While only a misdemeanor charge, it appeared to be the most likely count to result in a conviction for Rittenhouse, who was only 17 when he carried an AR-15 style rifle in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020, and used it to shoot three men, killing two of them.

Defense attorneys argued Wisconsin state law has an exception that would allow 17-year-olds to openly carry firearms if they are not short-barreled rifles, with a barrel of less than 16 inches and an overall length of less than 26 inches.

Schroeder said the Wisconsin law was poorly written, and that the shorter barrel size of the rifle Rittenhouse carried meant he didn't violate that law. Although prosecutors said they disagreed with the judge's interpretation of the law, they conceded Rittenhouse's weapon was not a short-barreled rifle, and Schroeder dismissed that count.

The dismissal of the gun charge against Rittenhouse leaves five counts for the jury to consider, ranging from intentional homicide to recklessly endangering safety.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys will present their closing arguments to the jury Monday. Both the defense and the prosecution will have two and a half hours for closing arguments.

Then the case goes to the jury.

There's no question Rittenhouse shot anyone. However, jurors must decide whether Rittenhouse fired in self-defense, as his attorneys claim, or was acting as a a vigilante, as prosecutors argue. The jury will be allowed to consider some lesser charges in addition to those prosecutors originally brought against him. Judge Bruce Schroeder said he would issue final rulings on Saturday about which lesser charges the jury could consider.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 when he fatally shot two protesters and wounded a third in August 2020 during a chaotic night of protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, testified that he had acted in self-defense.

It was on the third night of protests and unrest in Kenosha when Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz.

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