Closing arguments came this week in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen facing charges related to a shooting during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year.
Prosecutors used the opportunity on Monday to put forward a new argument claiming that Rittenhouse fueled the violence that day, but his attorneys responded by maintaining that the defendant acted in justifiable self-defense against legitimate threats to his safety.
“You lose the right”
According to the Washington Examiner, the back-and-forth came as the case was about to be handed off to the jury, who will decide if Rittenhouse is guilty of some or all of the five criminal charges being pursued.
The most serious count could land him in prison for the rest of his life if a jury votes to convict him.
As CBS News explained, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger spent his closing arguments accusing Rittenhouse of lying about his true motives for being present and armed at the protest in Kenosha on a night that left two other demonstrators dead and a third wounded.
The prosecutor specifically claimed that Rittenhouse was looking for trouble and not, as he initially claimed, there to provide medical aid to those in need.
Binger went on to accuse Rittenhouse of engaging in “provocation” that resulted in the shootings, labeling the defendant an “active shooter” and arguing: “If you are the one that is threatening others, you lose the right to claim self-defense.”
Prior to that point, prosecutors referred to drone footage entered as evidence that, despite being blurry and unclear, allegedly showed Rittenhouse aiming his rife at others prior to the shooting.
Defense attorney Mark Richards, however, offered a measured response denouncing his counterpart’s entire narrative.
Rittenhouse’s attorney said the prosecutor had been “misrepresenting” the truth and flat-out “lying” about what that blurry video actually showed. He also decried Binger’s use of the phrase “active shooter’ to describe his client, calling it a “buzzword” with “loaded connotations” intended to sway the jury against the defendant.
Furthermore, the defense attorney accused the prosecution in general of being politically motivated, challenging the strategy of entering new evidence late in the trial after they realized their initial strategy was failing.
In fact, some of the prosecution’s witnesses provided testimony that only served to bolster Rittenhouse’s claim of self-defense.