In a criminal trial that divided the country over issues of gun rights, violence during racial justice marches, and vigilantism, Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old who fatally shot two people during the disturbance last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been cleared of all charges.
The verdict was announced on Friday and came after a closely watched trial in which the prosecution struggled to refute Rittenhouse's position that he shot the victims in self-defense.
Rittenhouse's defense attorney Mark Richards said,
"He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this would have ever happened, but as he said when he testified, he did not start this."
"To say that we're relieved would be a gross misunderstatement."
Defense attorneys were successful in persuading the jury of 12 that the night of August 25, 2020, was riddled with grave hazards for the then-17-year-old through two weeks of testimony and evidence, led by Rittenhouse himself testifying for a full day.
Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all five counts, including first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree attempted intentional homicide, and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment after the jury deliberated for about 27 hours over the course of four days. Additionally, the jury was requested to consider fewer counts, but they remained unconvinced.
The Kenosha County District Attorney's Office said in a statement,
"While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected. We are grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations."
"We ask that members of our community continue to express their opinions and feelings about this verdict in a civil and peaceful manner."
On a night of turmoil in Kenosha brought on by the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was left crippled following a confrontation with a white cop, Rittenhouse armed himself with an AR-15-style gun. Rittenhouse, who resided in Antioch, Illinois, just across the state line, said in court that he wanted to serve as a medic and aid in securing private property.
But things went horribly wrong that night. Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, both 26 at the time, in a series of chaotic incidents with demonstrators that were meticulously documented by images and recordings.
Where Is Kyle Now?
Kyle announced on Twitter that he will be attending the public, two-year Blinn College this fall.
Rittenhouse submitted his application to Blinn College on April 28, according to a spokeswoman for the institution, but he has not yet registered for a current or forthcoming term. All students are welcome at the junior college because it is open enrollment.
Unfortunately, the end of my high school career was robbed from me. I didn't have the time other students get to properly prepare for the future.
I look forward to attending Blinn College District this year, a feeder school for Texas A&M.
I'm excited to join Texas A&M in 2023! — Kyle Rittenhouse (@ThisIsKyleR) June 6, 2022
In addition, recently, he was also seen taking a selfie with the officer. Last week, a police officer in Central Texas stopped a car and took a photo with Kyle Rittenhouse, one of the passengers.