Illinois teenager Kyle Rittenhouse is scheduled to go on trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Monday over three shootings that took place during a riot last year.
While many Democrats have demanded to see Rittenhouse behind bars, a number of legal experts say the young man has a solid claim of self-defense, the New York Post reports.
Among the group of experts is Colorado lawyer and author Andrew Branca, who wrote a 2016 book titled, The Law of Self Defense: The Indispensable Guide to the Armed Citizen.
“Poor judgment is not a crime”
“If I had a 17-year-old-son, I would not encourage him to engage in this kind of behavior,” Branca told the Associated Press with regard to Rittenhouse’s decision to try and protect business owners while armed with a rifle.
“But poor judgment is not a crime,” he continued, adding that the circumstances provide Rittenhouse with a “strong case for self-defense.”
Kenosha had already been the scene of violence before Rittenhouse arrived, with the New York Post reporting that rioters broke an elderly man’s jaw after he tried to stop them from setting his store on fire.
“[I]t has been my experience in these politically-energized use-of-force cases that begin with a quick, politically-clamored for arrest on charges as serious as murder, that as further evidence is developed it is invariably evidence consistent with innocence rather than consistent with guilt,” he wrote.
“Deserved what he got”
“This was true of the George Zimmerman case, the Eric Garner case, the Freddie Gray case, the Mike Brown case, the Tamir Rice case, now the Jacob Blake case, and I expect the same will prove true of this Kyle Rittenhouse case, as well,” Branca noted.
However, when speaking to the AP, Branca acknowledged that “trials are dangerous and unpredictable … and innocent people get convicted all the time.”
“So it’s quite possible that Kyle Rittenhouse could be convicted in this case based on that kind of rhetoric, despite the legal merits of the charges,” Branca explained.
Former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher agreed that a conviction is possible, telling the news service, “Everybody in that courtroom is going to be thinking he deserved what he got because he put himself in a hostile situation.”