By MICHAEL TARM, AMY FORLITI and TAMMY WEBBER Associated Press
KENOSHA, Wis. (AP) – The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial deliberated for an entire day on Tuesday without reaching a verdict on whether he was the instigator of a bloodshed night in Kenosha or a concerned citizen who was attacked while trying to protect property.
The case went to an anonymous jury after the judge, in an unusual move, allowed Rittenhouse himself to play a minor role in selecting the final panel of 12 whose job it was to decide his fate.
Rittenhouse entered a raffle drum and pulled numbered slips that determined which of the 18 jurors sitting in the case would deliberate and which would be fired as alternates.
>>> READ MORE: Daily highlights from Kenosha’s protest shooting test
This task is usually performed by a registrar, and not by the defendant. Judge Bruce Schroeder said later today that he has been asking the accused to do so for “I’ll say 20 years, at least.”
The jury will return on Wednesday morning to continue its work.
Rittenhouse, 18, faces life in prison if convicted of using an AR-style semi-automatic rifle to kill two men and injure a third during a night of racial injustice protests in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. The former young cadet policeman is white, just like those he shot.
Rittenhouse said he acted in self-defense, while prosecutors argued he provoked the violence. The case has become a flashpoint in the US debate over guns, racial justice protests, self-defense, and law and order.
The jury appeared to be predominantly white. Prospective jurors were not asked to identify their race during the selection process, and the court did not provide a racial breakdown.
As the jury deliberated, dozens of protesters – some for Rittenhouse, others against – stood outside the courthouse. Some spoke in low voices with those on the other side, while others shouted insults. A woman could be heard repeatedly calling some Rittenhouse supporters “white supremacists.”
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who has come under fire for his response to the Kenosha protests in 2020, called for calm while the jury deliberated. He announced last week that 500 members of the National Guard would stand ready to work in Kenosha if necessary.
“Whatever the outcome of this case, I call for peace in Kenosha and across our state,” Evers tweeted. He added, “I ask all who choose to come together and exercise their First Amendment rights in every community to do so safely and peacefully.”
The big protests that some had anticipated did not materialize during the testimony phase of the trial. Most of the time, only a few protesters gathered on the steps of the courthouse, and the tall fence that protected the building during last year’s unrest is gone.
Rittenhouse was 17 when he traveled to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Ill., In what he said was an effort to protect property from rioters in the days following a black man, Jacob Blake, was shot and killed by a white policeman from Kenosha.
In a series of quick street clashes, Rittenhouse shot dead Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28.
In closing arguments on Monday, prosecutor Thomas Binger said Rittenhouse was an “aspiring soldier” who sparked the deadly chain of events by bringing a gun to a protest and pointing it at protesters just before being for follow-up.
But Rittenhouse’s attorney, Mark Richards, countered that Rittenhouse had been ambushed by a “mad person” – Rosenbaum.
Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum chased him down and grabbed his rifle, causing him to fear the weapon would be used against him. His account of Rosenbaum’s behavior was largely corroborated by the video and some of the prosecution’s own witnesses.
Huber was shot after hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard. And Grosskreutz admitted he had his own pistol pointed at Rittenhouse when he was shot.
In his instructions to the jury, Schroeder said that in order to accept Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense, jurors must find that he believed there was an illegal threat against him and that the amount of force he used was reasonable and necessary.
Forliti reported from Minneapolis; Webber of Fenton, Michigan. Associated Press writer Scott Bauer contributed from Madison, Wisconsin.
For the latest trial news and updates on WI v. Kyle Rittenhouse, visit www.courttv.com/rittenhouse