“This case is not a game,” defense lawyer Mark Richards told jurors in a courtroom in Kenosha County, Wisconsin, during closing arguments on Monday. “It is my client’s life.”
Richards’s client Kyle Rittenhouse, 18, is on trial for killing two men and injuring a third amid spiraling protests after a police officer shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha. There’s no dispute that Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, ran away, then killed Anthony Huber, 26, and injured Gaige Grosskreutz, 27. The question before jurors is whether this constituted self-defense under the circumstances, as the defense maintains, or if Rittenhouse committed murder and attempted murder, as prosecutors allege. Kenosha County’s
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger argued earlier on Monday that Rittenhouse provoked the initial fatal confrontation with Rosenbaum, lied to bystanders during the aftermath, acted callously by not trying to care for the dying Rosenbaum, and did not try to show bystanders he was not dangerous.
Richards ripped into Binger, flat out calling him a liar. He maintained the prosecutor downplayed Rosenbaum’s irrational, belligerent behavior that fateful night of Aug. 25, 2020, and misrepresented his client’s actions.
“Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve had this video almost as long as they’ve had this video, but Mr. Binger will use this video to lie to your faces and tell you that Kyle Rittenhouse was taking advantage of the situation,” he said.
Binger never mentioned provocation in opening statements, only bringing it up after the case exploded “in his face,” Richards argued. He asserted that Rosenbaum ambushed Rittenhouse. Is that provocation by Rittenhouse?
“I don’t think so,” Richards said.
In the defense’s depiction of the incident, Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag, and Rittenhouse did not know what was inside it. The 17-year-old retreated, but Rosenbaum kept chasing after Rittenhouse, Richards said.
“We don’t play fast and loose with the facts pretending that Mr. Rosenbaum was citizen A, number one guy,” Richards said. “He was a bad man. He was there. He was causing trouble. He was a rioter, and my client had to deal with him that night alone.”
He sardonically asked if Rosenbaum was going to give his client a key to the city of Kenosha, or to thank Rittenhouse for providing security.
“He was irrational and crazy,” Richards said of Rosenbaum, and suggested the man might have taken Rittenhouse’s gun and used it on other people.
Richards: [Rosenbaum] was a bad man. He was there. He was causing trouble. He was a rioter. And my client had to deal with him that night alone.
— Sierra Gillespie (@sierragillespie) November 15, 2021
#KyleRittenhouse – Defense closing argument still going. Richards shows this still shot of Rosenbaum pointing out he’s holding a chain and the bag he has is backlit by the fire. He says we don’t know what that object is in his bag. @LawCrimeNetwork pic.twitter.com/ZtSPpjJopy
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) November 15, 2021
In many trials, it’s not unusual for both sides to get combative, but Richards leaned in hard on Binger. At one point, Richards suggested that Binger has acted like a “whiny defense lawyer.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, you sat through almost ten days of testimony,” Richards said. “You’ve heard the openings, most of the closings, and I have yet to hear Mr. Binger explain why Joseph Rosenbaum had the right to chase my client. To me, if I didn’t know better, I would think he’s a whiny defense lawyer. ‘Everybody’s out to get me. Everybody’s lying. I’m the one who is bringing forth the truth.’ Ladies and gentlemen, the videos show the truth. The videos show the actions of Joseph Rosenbaum.”
The attorney also maintained that Binger misrepresented the forensic evidence. Rosenbaum was shot in the back, but he was on a horizontal plane, consistent with lunging, Richards said.
Richards said that Rittenhouse shooting Huber and Grosskreutz was also done in self-defense under the circumstances. Binger maintained in his closing argument that the people in the crowd — after the Rosenbaum shooting — had every right to protect themselves, believing Rittenhouse to be an “active shooter.” Richards said this was a loaded term and even a “buzzword.”
Rittenhouse ran for two blocks without shooting or pointing the gun at anyone, the defense lawyer said. Someone holding a rock in hand hit Rittenhouse in the head, the attorney said. Huber hit Rittenhouse in the head with a skateboard, and an unknown man described in court as “Jump Kick Man” kicked Rittenhouse in the face. Huber came in with a second attack to try to “take his head off,” and also to grab Rittenhouse’s gun, Richards said. Even Grosskreutz testified about being concerned about the blows Huber and “Jump Kick Man” inflicted on Rittenhouse, he said.
“My client does not have to take a beating from the hands of this mob, or the hands of Mr. Rosenbaum,” Richards said.
For the most part, however, Richards also told jurors that Grosskreutz was not a reliable witness. He said that Grosskreutz, an armed man who sustained a gunshot wound to the bicep, lied to authorities after the shootings, and conveniently omitted details that made him look bad. The attorney also suggested that Grosskreutz lied to benefit his lawsuit over the incident.
“Grosskreutz, the person with 10 million reasons to lie,” Richards said.
The attorney argued that the self-defense stance carried over from the Rosenbaum shooting to the charge of first-degree recklessly endangering safety regarding nearby Richard McGinniss, a video editor for the conservative outlet The Daily Caller. McGinnis, Richards said, ran into danger with a phone in his hand. Rittenhouse is not responsible for that, he said.
[Screenshot via Law&Crime Network]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]