The Case of Kyle Rittenhouse:

A Life-Changing Verdict


Sean Krajacic/Pool/Getty Images

Then-17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse arrived at Kenosha, Wisconsin with the intent of acting as a medic and protecting private property (NPR)

Cynthia Zhou, Staff Writer

The gavel has been struck, and it has been settled: Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all counts, including first-degree intentional homicide.

During the summer of 2020 in Kenosha, Wisconsin, then-17-year-old Rittenhouse, armed with an AR-15-type rifle, attended a protest sparked by the death of Jacob Blake. During the unrest, the teenager fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded ​​Gaige Grosskreutz. Rittenhouse claimed to have acted in terror, with his main objective being to defend himself. His actions were in response to Rosenbaum pursuing and throwing a plastic bag at him, Huber hitting him with a skateboard, and Grosskreutz approaching him with a pistol (CNN).

Rittenhouse, now 18, returned to Kenosha, this time to arrive at the Kenosha County Courthouse to be charged with first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, and two counts of attempted first-degree recklessly endangering safety (CBS Chicago). According to AP News, Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed two charges during the trial: possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 and failure to comply with an emergency order from state or local government.

Rittenhouse’s verdict came on the fifteenth day of trial, with the jury acquitting him of all the felonies he faced (Fox News). In light of this decision, CNN reported both Rittenhouse’s and Judge Schroeder’s statements embraced closure. Rittenhouse stated, “The jury reached the correct verdict. Self-defense is not illegal.” Meanwhile, Judge Schroeder “couldn’t have asked for a better jury” (CNN).

With contentment came disappointment, the latter stemming from the prosecutor’s side. Lead prosecutor Thomas Binger demonstrated deference for the justice system in the statement: “While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected.” Hannah Gittings, Huber’s girlfriend, expresses her dissatisfaction in a blunter manner. “We know that this system is a failure,” she asserts (CNN).

Ms. Gregory, the advisor of Mock Trial, weighs in on the result of the case. “When it comes to cases where there is a loss of life and the defendant claims they acted in self defense, it needs to be proven that they were not acting aggressively and they feared for their life beyond a reasonable doubt.” In her analysis of the trial, she contends, “Because the burden of proof was on the prosecution to prove Rittenhouse wasn’t acting in self defense they had a tougher job, and couldn’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury. Any doubt at all—even a little bit—means the defense wins. Which they did here.”

With this in mind, opinions regarding the court case have starkly been split into two; either justice has or has not been served. A student in Mock Trial has also developed their opinions on the controversial trial. “The judge did things that were completely illegal and out of jurisdiction,” they argued. “He was out of line.”

Paying no heed to the immense controversy surrounding his person, Rittenhouse hopes to study and eventually become a nurse (CNN). The teenager can now replace his fears of a foreseeable future in prison with a foreseeable future in university.