Kyle Rittenhouse, the teen charged with murder of two people during race riots in Wisconsin, has entered the second week of his trial to determine if the teen should face adult penalties for the deaths. Meanwhile, a political war is brewing over whether or not Rittenhouse did anything wrong or even illegal. With polarization on both sides of the issue, some believe that Rittenhouse was doing his best to protect his country from armed mobs. Others believe that Rittenhouse went out there looking for a fight. Depending on who you believe, you may be inclined to think Rittenhouse is guilty or innocent.
Despite media claims, Wisconsin does not place restrictions on the ownership or possession of weapons by 17-year-olds. Rittenhouse broke no law by carrying the rifle and his defense team maintains that he acquired the rifle in Wisconsin meaning he did not transport the rifle over state lines. The only question before the jury is whether or not Rittenhouse was justified in discharging the weapon.
The Question of Self-Defense
Most state laws require that an individual be in immediate peril in order to justify the lethal use of force. In this case, it is not clear who started the confrontation between Rittenhouse and Joseph Rosenbaum, and the prosecution and defense have differing theories there. The prosecution presented evidence that Rosenbaum was a harmless person, while the defense presented evidence that Rosenbaum was acting extremely aggressively and at one point, had a gun. In other words, both sides are pointing the finger at one another to prove that the other side was the aggressor. This spells doom for the prosecution because they need to situate Rittenhouse in a comfortable place where he was not in fear of his life. Nonetheless, when an altercation between one armed man and another unarmed man ensues, the man with the gun has the upper hand. The man with a gun, however, does not have to allow another man with a lesser weapon to harm him. He can use lethal force to defend himself from an attack with a knife, skateboard, or another improvised weapon.
The prosecution has tried to situate the victims as heroes, but that strategy has backfired after prosecutors moved to introduce evidence against them. The defense can only admit this evidence in the event that the prosecution attempts to characterize them a specific way. The prosecution has since stopped all attempts to characterize the victims in a positive light after the defense said they would challenge that characterization with evidence of their own.
The prosecution’s case is not as strong as it could be. Ideally, the prosecution would have pursued a second-degree felony murder charge against Rittenhouse that was based on the commission of some other felony. However, there was no corresponding felony that they could charge him with. Instead, they have charged him with first-degree reckless homicide, a lesser charge than murder arguing that Rittenhouse was indifferent to Rosenbaum’s life. Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree intentional homicide for shooting the man who attempted to hit him with a skateboard. While Rittenhouse should not have been there with an AR-15, there may be too much doubt as to what happened to justify intentional or even unintentional homicide charges.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
The Chicago criminal defense attorney David Freidberg can help you devise a self-defense argument to criminal charges involving battery or murder. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to set up an appointment and we can discuss your options in more detail.