Update: In what has dragged on for several days longer than anticipated, Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all charges.
The jury, which deliberated for several days despite cases of harassment, intimidation and even being followed by an MSNBC reporter, have determined that Rittenhouse is not guilty of all charges pressed against him.
Juror 54, who took responsibility for reading the verdict, read off the series of charges, ending each with “not guilty.”
Rittenhouse, who appeared tense as he faced the jury, was quickly overcome with emotion upon hearing the final verdict.
Judge Schroeder dropped all charged with predjudice, and released Rittenhouse from his bond.
Christy Gutowski, Stacy St. Clair and John Keilman
KENOSHA, Wis. — As jury deliberations dragged into a third full day, Kyle Rittenhouse’s attorney Mark Richards came into the courtroom for a change of scenery.
He has spent much of his time since closing arguments on a different floor of the stately Kenosha County Courthouse waiting for a sign of where jurors were in their discussion. Considered one of the best criminal defense attorneys in Wisconsin, he had never had a jury take longer than 18 hours to make a decision.
The Rittenhouse jury has deliberated for 23 hours so far and will resume its work Friday morning.
Reporters asked Richards how he was feeling. His answer was as honest as it was telling.
“Worse than I was yesterday,” he said.
The Rittenhouse jury ended its third day of deliberations around 4 p.m. Thursday, without sending a single new note to the court before the judge sent the jurors home for the evening. Before they left, one juror asked if she could take jury instructions home. The question prompted Richards to shake his head, a fellow juror to frown and the judge to give his permission.
“But you obviously can’t talk to anyone else about it,” Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said.
The extended deliberations may seem almost inconceivable to the social media pontificators who made up their minds about the case more than a year ago, but legal experts say it’s natural in a nuanced case with multiple charges, 36 pages of jury instructions and multiple videos.
“I don’t think the length of time says anything about what the jurors are thinking,” veteran Chicago attorney Joe Lopez said. “But it definitely shows that it wasn’t the slam-dunk many people thought it was.”
The jury has sent five notes to the court during its deliberations, including three Wednesday dealing with video evidence. The last one, sent shortly before noon, indicated jurors hadn’t made a decision on the fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man killed by Rittenhouse.
“Please prepare Mr. Rosenbaum shooting (event 1),” the note read, before specifically requesting the following: “FBI aerial video with all PIO’s (persons of interest) marked. Drone video. Zoomed in image still after Mr. Rittenhouse put down fire extinguisher. Full event 1 video in regular and slow motion.”
The request was signed by the foreperson, a white woman in her mid-50s who appeared to be taking copious notes during the trial. During the selection process, the soft-spoken woman said she had driven through downtown Kenosha after the unrest to look at the damage. She said it would not influence her decision in the case.
Before asking for the Rosenbaum footage, the foreperson — who is referred to as the presiding juror in court documents — had sent a note asking for video of Rittenhouse’s interaction with Gaige Grosskreutz, an armed medic whose right bicep was blown off that night.
“View video starting with Mr. Grosskreutz interview with Mr. Rittenhouse to 10 seconds after Mr. Grosskreutz shooting. In regular and slow motion,” the note read.
The jurors were given everything they requested, except for the still images from the drone footage. The defense has been challenging the validity of the still shots since prosecutors received the drone records midway through the trial.
Rittenhouse, then a 17-year-old resident of Antioch, Illinois, volunteered to patrol downtown Kenosha in August 2020 amid turmoil surrounding the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man left partially paralyzed after being shot by a white police officer during a domestic disturbance call days earlier. Prosecutors later declined to charge the officer with wrongdoing.
Carrying an AR-15-style rifle that police say a friend illegally purchased for him, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Grosskreutz during the third night of unrest in the city. Rittenhouse is charged with reckless homicide, intentional homicide and attempted intentional homicide related to his actions toward the men, respectively.
Rittenhouse, who faces five felony charges for his actions that night, has pleaded not guilty and said he shot the men in self-defense.
Blake’s uncle, Justin, who has been a constant presence outside the courthouse on behalf of the slain men since the trial began Nov. 1, told the Chicago Tribune he felt confident the jury would convict Rittenhouse on at least some of the five charges.
“We know more than likely all the counts won’t be guilty. They’ll throw some out,” Justin Blake said. “But something is going to stick. This young man (Rittenhouse) is not going home.”
The trial featured eight days of testimony, 30 witnesses and voluminous video evidence.
“You can’t predict a jury and it’s hard to read tea leaves but … a day for every week of trial is a decent rule of thumb,” former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer said. “If we’re having this conversation on Friday afternoon, and there’s no verdict, then it’s fair to say there could be some angst in that jury room.”
Based on the jury’s questions so far, Chris Grohman, a white-collar defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said the panel appears to be on track.
“If there’s been issues, I think you probably would have heard it by now. It sounds like they’re working well together,” Grohman said. “I don’t think it’s going to go on too much longer. I would expect a verdict.”
The day’s main action came shortly before noon, when the judge banned MSNBC for the duration of the trial after police suspected one of the cable outlet’s freelancers of following the jury bus.
Jurors are bused to the courthouse each day from an undisclosed location in a van with windows covered so they can’t see the protests outside the courthouse. They enter through a private door, which prevents them from having contact with the public upon arrival.
The journalist, who the Tribune is not naming because he wasn’t charged with a crime, was pulled over Wednesday night for running a red light as he drove about a block behind the jury bus, Schroeder said.
“This is a very serious matter and I don’t know what the ultimate truth of it is,” the judge said. MSNBC sent a statement to CNN’s Brian Stelter saying the journalist never intended to contact or photograph the jurors.
“Last night, a freelancer received a traffic citation. While the traffic violation took place near the jury van, the freelancer never contacted or intended to contact the jurors during deliberations, and never photographed or intended to photograph them,” the statement read. “We regret the incident and will fully cooperate with the authorities on any investigation.”
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