was acquitted on all charges in the August 2020 shootings of three men, including two who were killed. The teen's attorneys argued that the teen opened fire in self-defense.
Rittenhouse, 18, teared up and embraced his attorney as the not guilty verdict was read Friday. The teen had faced five charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a sentence of life in prison.
The jury, which was made up of seven women and five men, deliberated for three and a half days and heard from more than 30 witnesses over two weeks of testimony.
The teen's attorney, Mark Richards, described how Rittenhouse felt leaving the courthouse. "A huge sense of relief. He wished none of this would have happened. He is thankful the jury got to hear the real story - the true story."
On August 25, 2020, Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, went to Kenosha during protests that erupted after police shot and wounded. He testified that he intended to help protect local businesses and provide first aid. Armed with an AR-15 style rifle, Rittenhouse ended up in the midst of the crowd and shot three men, killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz.
In a statement, Huber's family said they were "heartbroken and angry" over the verdict. "Today's verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends an 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," they said.
At trial, Rittenhouse and his attorneys said he only fired in self-defense, while the prosecution painted him as the aggressor. In this case, the burden of proof fell on the prosecutors to prove the shooting was not justified.
The trial heated up when Rittenhousein his own defense. At one point, he broke into tears when his attorneys questioned him about why he fatally shot Rosenbaum. "I didn't do anything wrong, I was defending myself," Rittenhouse said.
At closing arguments, prosecutors disputed the defense's self-defense claim, telling the jury that Rittenhouse was an aggressor, a liar, and an "active shooter" who did not face an imminent threat of great bodily harm or death that night. Instead, the state argued that Rittenhouse was the one who provoked the violence and posed a threat to others.
Reacting to the verdict, the lead prosecutor, Thomas Binger, said, "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."
District attorney asks the public to "peacefully" accept the verdict
Michael Graveley, the district attorney in Kenosha, issued a statement hours after the verdict. Graveley asked the public to peacefully accept the verdict.
"We respect the jury verdict based on three and a half days of careful deliberations. Certainly, issues regarding the privilege of self-defense remain highly contentious in our current times," Graveley said in a statement.
"We ask that all members of the public accept the verdicts peacefully and not resort to violence."
Biden: "The jury system works and we have to abide by it"
Upon returning from the White House from Walter Reed Hospital this afternoon, President Biden said he stood by the jurors in Kenosha who found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all counts.
"Look I stand what the jury has concluded. The jury system works and we have to abide by it," Mr. Biden said.
Attorney says Rittenhouse has a "huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today"
Kyle Rittenhouse's defense attorney, Mark Richards, reacted to the not guilty verdict in a press conference on Friday, "To say that we were relieved would be a gross mis-understatement."
Responding on behalf of his client, Richards said the teenager "has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today," adding that the days of deliberation were "torture."
Rittenhouse was not present at the conference, Richards said he was already on his way home, just a few hours after he was acquitted on all charges.
When asked about the decision to let Rittenhouse testify in his own defense, Richards said they "had to put him on," adding it was not a "close call."
Richards responded to speculation about whether Rittenhouse's tears on the witness stand were genuine, saying the teen would often get emotional as they walked through different aspects of the case in their office. He said the teen has struggled with PTSD from the incident and is not sleeping.
"He has to get on with his life the best he can," Richards said, later adding that Rittenhouse still wants to become a nurse, but may have to move away from the area noting the volume of death threats he and the defense team have received.
Wisconsin governor calls for peace
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers called for peace after Rittenhouse was acquitted on Friday.
"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.
"We must have peace in Kenosha and our communities, and any efforts or actions aimed at sowing division are unwelcome in our state as they will only hinder that healing."
Family of man killed by Rittenhouse "heartbroken and angry" by verdict
The family of Anthony Huber, one of the two men who were fatally shot by Rittenhouse, said they were "heartbroken and angry" over the verdict.
"Today's verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son. It sends an 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," the statement said.
Huber was 26 when he was shot in the chest by Rittenhouse. Born in Kenosha, he died four days after his birthday, according to an obituary.
"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," the statement says. "Anthony will have his day in court."
Rittenhouse supporters celebrate outside the courtroom
Outside the courthouse, a small crowd of supporters of Rittenhouse began to celebrate the verdict chanting, "Second Amendment." Others, who were there in support of the men he had shot, expressed disappointment.
Prosecutor reacts to verdict
Thomas Binger, the assistant district attorney and lead prosecutor in the case, issued a brief statement after the jury was excused from the courtroom. "The jury has represented our community in this trial and has spoken," Binger said.
Binger later issued a statement saying, "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."
He added, "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."
Rittenhouse gets choked up as the verdict is read
Rittenhouse, 18, immediately began to cry and laid his head on the defense table as the not guilty verdict was read, laying his head briefly on the defense table. His lawyer rubbed Rittenhouse's shoulders and told him to breathe.
Meanwhile, families of the men who were killed shook their heads in disbelief and cried in reaction to the verdict.
The teen had faced five charges, including first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a sentence of life in prison.
A breakdown of the charges
- Count 1: First-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon. Rittenhouse was charged with recklessly causing the death of Joseph Rosenbaum. The felony carries a maximum possible sentence of 65 years.
- Count 2: First-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon. Rittenhouse was charged with endangering Richie McGinniss' safety when he shot at him while McGinniss was filming Rittenhouse. The felony carries a maximum possible sentence of 17.5 years in prison or a $25,000 fine.
- Count 3: First-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon. Rittenhouse was charged with intentionally causing the death of Anthony Huber. The felony carries a sentence of life in prison, plus five years for the crime being committed with a dangerous weapon.
- Count 4: Attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon. Rittenhouse was charged with attempting to intentionally cause the death of Gaige Grosskreutz. The felony carries a maximum possible sentence of 65 years.
- Count 5: First-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon. Rittenhouse was charged with recklessly endangering the safety of an "unknown male." The felony carries a maximum possible sentence of 17.5 years in prison or a $25,000 fine.
- A sixth count, possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, was dropped by the judge before both sides began their . Prior to the trial, Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder also dismissed a curfew violation charge pending against Rittenhouse after a motion by the defense.