James Fetzer joined in for a very lively discussion about the Kyle Rittenhouse Verdict.
On the night of August 25, 2020, 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse travelled from his home town of Antioch IL to the neighboring border town of Kenosha WI, where he had worked as a lifeguard and spent considerable time. Kyle’s stated purpose was to help protect property from the riots, looting, and arson that had besieged the city since the lawful shooting of Jacob Blake by police two days earlier. (Blake, a 29-year-old black man, non-compliant with lawful arrest, wielding a knife in his hand, and was climbing into a car full of children when police shot him.) Kyle, trained in medical care, also intended to provide such care to anyone injured that he might come across. For that purpose he carried with him a sizable first-aid kit. In recognition of the violence rampaging through the city, Kyle also armed himself with an AR-15 pattern rifle (open carry of firearms is lawful in Wisconsin).
Count 1. First degree reckless homicide (Rosenbaum). At approximately 11:45pm amidst the chaos of August 25, 2020, Kyle would shoot and kill Joseph Rosenbaum, in claimed self-defense. This would result in the first degree reckless homicide charge against Kyle, Count 1 in the criminal complaint, under § 940.02(1) First-degree reckless homicide.. If convicted of this charge Kyle is looking at up to 60 years in prison, plus an additional 5 years for having used a dangerous weapon.
Count 2. First degree reckless endangering (McGinnis). Near to this scene was a reporter, Richard McGinnis, who had moments before been interviewing Kyle. McGinnis would later tell police that he did not think that Kyle was handing his rifle safely. This would result in the first degree reckless endangering charge against Kyle, Count 2 of the criminal complaint, under § 941.30(1). Recklessly endangering safety. If convicted on this charge Kyle is looking at up to 12 years in prison, plus an additional 5 years for having used a dangerous weapon. After shooting Rosenbaum, Kyle began to run towards a line of police officers who had created a vehicle barricade a short distance down the street.
During this flight to police Kyle was pursued by angry members of the mob, during which he would fall to the street. Once fallen, Kyle was subject to violent attack by several men. Count 3. First degree intentional homicide (Huber). One of the men who attacked Kyle was Anthony M. Huber. While Kyle was struggling to get up from where he had fallen, Huber struck at Kyle’s head and neck with a heavy skateboard. Kyle shot Huber, with fatal results. This would result in the first degree intentional homicide charge against Kyle,
Count 3 of the criminal complaint, under § 940.01(1)(a). First degree intentional homicide. If convicted on this charge Kyle is looking at life imprisonment—and, once again, an additional 5 years for having used a dangerous weapon. Count 4. Attempted first degree intentional homicide (Grosskreutz). Another of the men who attacked Kyle was Gaige Grosskreutz. While Kyle was fighting off the other attackers as he struggled to rise from the street, Grosskreutz approached Kyle initially with his hands up in a peaceful gesture, but then swiftly presented a pistol and rapidly closed on Kyle. Kyle shot Grosskreutz, striking him in the right bicep, causing serious not but fatal injury. This would result in the attempted first degree intentional homicide charge against Kyle,
Count 4 of the criminal complaint, under 940.01(1)(a). First degree intentional homicide. If convicted on this charge Kyle is looking 60 years in prison, plus an additional 5 years for having used a dangerous weapon. Count 5. First degree reckless endangerment (unknown male). Another of the men who attacked Kyle was an unidentified male who attempted a flying drop kick onto Kyle as he lay in the street. Kyle shot at this attacker, but missed. This would result in the first degree reckless endangerment charge against Kyle, Count 5 in the criminal complaint, under § 941.30(1). Recklessly endangering safety. If convicted on this charge Kyle is looking at up to 12 years in prison, plus an additional 5 years for having used a dangerous weapon. Count 6. Unlawful Weapon Possession by Minor. Finally, Kyle also would be charged with unlawful possession of a weapon by a minor,
Count 6 in the criminal complaint, under § 948.60(2)(a). Possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. This the sole misdemeanor charge specified in the criminal complaint, and if convicted on this charge Kyle is looking at up to 9 months in prison. Now I thought it might be useful to do a quick legal analysis of these various counts against Kyle. Well, brief for counts 2 through 6. With respect to Count 1, the shooting death of Joseph Rosenbaum, I’ll spend more time, as this first event is to some degree a lynchpin for all the others. If the shooting death of Rosenbaum looks sketchy, that would tend to flow downhill to all the other defenses.
On the other hand, to the extent that the shooting death of Rosenbaum appears legally justified, that justification also flows downhill to all the others. Upon his return from Walter Reed Medical Center on Friday afternoon, President Biden gave some brief remarks on the recent verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial. Biden, who said he didn’t watch the trial, told reporters he stands by “what the jury has concluded.” “The jury system works, and we have to abide by it.” On Friday, a jury acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges, which included reckless homicide, intentional homicide, and attempted intentional homicide. The president also addressed his physical and his impending “58th birthday.”
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