Kyle Rittenhouse’s Lawyer Will Argue Self-Defense

The case before the jury is about self-defense, Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyer said, describing a scene of lawlessness that ruled on the shootings.,

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Kyle Rittenhouse protected himself from people who ‘attacked him in the street like an animal,’ his lawyer says.

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Mark Richards, a lawyer for the defense, said in his opening statement that Kyle Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense when he shot and killed two men and wounded another during protests over a police shooting in Kenosha, Wis.CreditCredit…Pool photo by Sean Krajacic
  • Nov. 2, 2021Updated 3:09 p.m. ET

Kyle Rittenhouse, an Illinois resident, arrived in Kenosha, Wis., in August 2020 as a teenager with innocent motives, his lawyer told jurors in an opening statement.

Mr. Rittenhouse had ties to the community, family and friends who lived in Kenosha, a job as a lifeguard at the RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie, just outside town. When he came downtown on the third day of protests after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, Mr. Rittenhouse was there to clean graffiti and help protect the city from more destruction, his lawyer said.

And when Mr. Rittenhouse walked Sheridan Road in Kenosha with his rifle in the late-evening hours of Aug. 25, 2020, he was pursued by Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man he shot, and a series of other attackers who were determined to injure him, take his firearm and possibly kill him, said the lawyer, Mark Richards.

“Kyle Rittenhouse protected himself,” Mr. Richards said. “Protected his firearm so it couldn’t be taken and used against him or other people who Mr. Rosenbaum had made threats to kill. The other individuals who didn’t see that shooting attacked him in the street like an animal.”

The case before the jury is about self-defense, Mr. Richards said, describing a scene of lawlessness that ruled in Kenosha that night, and a series of shootings that happened so quickly that Mr. Rittenhouse had to make lightning-fast decisions on when to pull the trigger.

Mr. Richards acknowledged the prosecutor’s argument that Mr. Rittenhouse’s actions appear less reasonable if jurors consider that he was the only person who killed anyone during the unrest that spanned several days in the summer of 2020.

“True,” he said, adding: “Mr. Rittenhouse was the only person who was chased by Joseph Rosenbaum that evening.”

Punctuating his opening statement with photos and videos from the night of the shootings — over the objections of the prosecution — Mr. Richards turned to the people who were shot by Mr. Rittenhouse, characterizing them as hostile and belligerent.

The mob had a “marauding nature,” he said, so aggressive that he said Richard McGinniss, a video journalist for the Daily Caller, had to pacify some people with alcohol and cigarettes.

After Mr. Rittenhouse shot Mr. Rosenbaum and fled the scene down Sheridan Road, he was chased by dozens of people, including Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz. But while the prosecutors described Mr. Huber and Mr. Grosskreutz as citizens who were trying to stop an active shooter, the defense characterized them as aggressors.

Mr. Huber bludgeoned Mr. Rittenhouse with a skateboard, Mr. Richards said, and a man who was captured on video — but never identified — jump-kicked Mr. Rittenhouse in the face.

“Kyle Rittenhouse, flat on his back, in the most vulnerable position one can be in,” Mr. Richards said.

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