Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand at his trial Wednesday on charges of killing two men and wounding a third during a night of turbulent protests last year in Wisconsin, responding no when asked by his attorney whether he came to Kenosha looking for trouble.
The former police youth cadet was 17 when he went to Kenosha during the summer of 2020 with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he has said was an effort to safeguard property from the damaging protests that broke out over the wounding of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot by a white Kenosha police officer.
Prosecutors used more than five days of testimony to try to portray Rittenhouse as the aggressor on the night of the shootings. But the prosecution’s witnesses often bolstered the young man’s claim of self-defence.
Rittenhouse’s decision to testify came despite several legal experts saying that an underwhelming prosecution case had made it less likely he would need to do so.
Rittenhouse, now 18, could get life in prison if convicted of the most serious charge against him. He has pleaded not guilty to all seven charges he faces, including two counts of homicide, one reckless and one intentional, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety.
Rittenhouse shot and killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum at close range. Then, as members of the crowd set upon him, he killed Anthony Huber, a 26-year-old protester seen on video clubbing Rittenhouse with a skateboard.
Rittenhouse then wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, a 27-year-old protester and volunteer medic who admitted pointing his own gun at Rittenhouse just before he was shot.
The case has stirred debate over vigilantism, the right to bear arms and the unrest that erupted around the U.S. that summer over the killing of George Floyd and other police violence against Black people.