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Who is Kyle Rittenhouse? Will he be convicted?

Kyle Rittenhouse broke down in tears as he recalled shooting Joseph Rosenbaum four times during a night of unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year.

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Who is Kyle Rittenhouse? Will he be convicted?
POOL REUTERS

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old charged with murdering two men and wounding another during racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin last year, took the witness stand at his trial on Wednesday in risky and dramatic testimony.

Rittenhouse facing six criminal charges

Rittenhouse has been charged with first degree reckless homicide in the death of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and first degree intentional homicide in the death of Anthony Huber, 26 and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27. The shootings occurred on 25 August 2020 after protesters took to the streets to demand justice for Jacob Blake, who had been shot seven times by a police officer in the town earlier that week.

The teenager has pleaded not guilty to charges of reckless and intentional homicide and insists that he acted in self-defence.

Rittenhouse gave testimony at the Circuit Court in Kenosha on Wednesday. Dressed in a navy blue suit and tie, the teenager was asked a series of questions about the night of by his lawyer Mark Richards. The 18-year-old, who lived 39 kilometres away in Antioch, Illinois, drove down to Kenosha armed with an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle to protect property and provide medical assistance. When asked why he had gone to Kenosha that night he replied, “I went down there to provide first aid. I brought my orange first aid kit, a fanny pack, I also brought my pelican box which was filled with first aid stuff”.

He went on to describe how he and several others found themselves protecting a used car dealership, Car Source.

Rittenhouse breaks down recalling events that led to Rosenbaum shooting

When asked to relate the events that led to the shooting of Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse said. “I started running towards Car Source lot 3 to put out the fires. I didn’t notice Mr. Rosenbaum until he came out from the car and ambushed me. As I am walking down Sheridan Road, I heard somebody scream, ‘Burn in Hell’ and I replied with ‘Friendly, friendly, friendly’ to let them know that I am just here to help. I just want to put out the fires if there are any”. He added that an individual called Joshua Ziminski stepped towards him with a pistol.

Rittenhouse struggled to compose himself when asked to explain what happened next. He was just about able to blurt out his recollection of the event. “Mr Rosenbaum was now running from my right side. I was cornered with Mr Ziminski in front of me..” the accused said before breaking down. That was when Judge Bruce Schroeder called for a recess.

After returning to the stand, Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum started to chase him, telling the jury, “Mr Ziminski instructed him to ‘Get him and kill him’ - that’s what I heard. I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun. I shot him, I believe four times”.

What kind of prison sentence could Rittenhouse face?

Prosecutors described Rittenhouse as a vigilante who intentionally intended to kill everyone he shot on the evening of 25 August. If convicted of a Class B felony for killing Rosenbaum, he could face a minimum of 40 years in prison. Under Section 940.02 of the Wisconsin Statutes, if he is found guilty, Rittenhouse could even face the maximum penalty of 60 years with an additional five-year sentence on top of that for breaching Wisconsin’s open carry law, as he was not old enough to legally carry a rifle.

But Rittenhose also faces charges of first degree intentional homicide, with prosecutors claiming that he intentionally caused the death of Anthony Huber - if found guilty, he would be handed a mandatory life sentence, meaning that he would spend the rest of his life behind bars.