As the Kyle Rittenhouse trial entered its second day, prosecutors and the defense gave opening statements to the jury and Dominick Black, Rittenhouse’s friend, was called to testify.
The jury of 20 people chosen Monday, which includes eight alternates, were seated in the courtroom and sworn in just before 10 a.m. Tuesday.
Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce E. Schroeder reminded the jury to be fair and impartial when presented with the evidence.
“Anything that you see or hear outside the courtroom is not evidence. Do not let any personal feelings about race, religion, national origin, sex, age, or politics affect your consideration of the evidence,” Schroeder told them.
He also reminded the jury to not seek information about the case outside of the courtroom.
Schroeder then read the charges against Kyle Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse, 18, who formerly resided in Antioch, is facing charges of first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger gave his opening statement to the jury, explaining the case to them.
“On the night of August 25th, 2020, here in our community of Kenosha, the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time, had armed himself with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle loaded with 30 rounds in the magazine,” Binger said.
“And using that rifle, he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, an unarmed man. The shot that killed Mr. Rosenbaum was a shot to the back. This occurred after the defendant chased down Mr. Rosenbaum and confronted him while wielding that AR-15,” Binger said.
Binger said that Rittenhouse fled the scene “without stopping to offer any aid whatsoever.”
Binger said people attempted to stop Rittenhouse after “word spreads from the crowd on the street that there is an active shooter running through the area.”
Binger said those people included Anthony Huber, who “takes a swing at him with a skateboard.”
He said that an unknown individual attempted to kick Rittenhouse in the face after he “loses his balance and falls to the ground.”
Binger added that although that individual was not shot when Rittenhouse discharged his gun twice while on the ground, he said, “clearly if he had been hit, the wound would have been severe, and perhaps even fatal.”
Binger said Huber came in and reached for Rittenhouse’s gun.
“He grabs ahold of the gun and tries to pull it away from the defendant. The defendant is wearing his AR-15 strapped to his body,” Binger said. “It (Rittenhouse’s gun) is essentially attached to him.”
Rittenhouse discharged his gun once and Huber is fatally shot in the chest, Binger said.
Rittenhouse later shot Gaige Grosskreutz, who was live-streaming the chase on Facebook with his phone in his left hand while carrying a semi-automatic Glock pistol in his right hand.
Binger said Grosskreutz was shot while he “blades his body with his left hand, reaching towards the defendant.” That was the eighth and final round from Rittenhouse’s gun, Binger said.
“On that night, he (Rittenhouse) killed two unarmed people. Shot at a third, at very close range, and wounded Mr. Grosskreutz in the arm who was armed with a gun.”
Binger backtracked and provided the jury with context, including the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake on August 23.
“The community erupted in protest, looting, rioting, arson and violence. Sunday night and Monday night were two of the roughest nights our community has ever seen,” Binger said.
Binger said that people outside of Kenosha came to contribute to the chaos, comparing them to “moths to a flame.”
Binger emphasized repeatedly to the jury that Rittenhouse was the only person that killed anyone.
“The evidence will show that the only person that killed anyone was the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse,” Binger told them.
“There will be no dispute in this record that the defendant had that gun that night, shot eight bullets, four of them hit Joseph Rosenbaum, two of them at an unknown individual, one into Anthony Huber’s chest and one into Gaige Grosskreutz’s arm. That will not be in dispute.”
“The central issue, in this case, is going to be self-defense,” Binger said.
Binger then read Wisconsin’s self-defense law to the jury, telling them they would be the ones to decide if the use of deadly force was necessary.
Binger introduced the first witness, Dominick Black, who he said was dating Rittenhouse’s sister at the time.
Last November, Black was charged with two counts of intentionally giving a dangerous weapon to someone under 18 causing death, a felony. Black purchased the AR-15 for Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old at the time.
Binger said that Black straw-purchased the AR-15 for Rittenhouse because he was too young to legally purchase the gun himself.
Binger said infrared video from an FBI surveillance plane will show Rittenhouse following and initiating a confrontation with Rosenbaum.
“Based on all of that evidence, I think you will agree with me that the defendant is guilty of all of these charges,” Binger told the jury at the end of his statement.
After a break, Binger objected to the defense intending to show pictures and videos to the jury, calling it “unusual procedure” to show evidence during opening statements.
Mark Richards, one of Rittenhouse’s attorneys, told Schroeder that the exhibits will show the men who Kyle Rittenhouse shot, some of which will help identify them by clothing.
Binger objected and said that the witnesses should be presenting evidence, not the defense.
Schroeder allowed the defense to show the photos and videos, saying their way of opening their statement is acceptable and not against the law.
“We have two very different outlooks on the events of August 25 of 2020,” Richards told the jury as he began his opening statement.
Richards said Rittenhouse saw the unrest unfolding on live streams the day before and went to downtown Kenosha to look at the damage and to help clean up at Reuther Central High School.
Richards said Rittenhouse met one of the owners of Car Source to help protect their property. He said that Rittenhouse had strong ties to Kenosha.
“His father lived in Kenosha, his mother lived in Antioch, Illinois, Kyle worked here in Kenosha County at the RecPlex in Pleasant Prairie as a lifeguard,” he said.
Richards said Black and Rittenhouse decided to help Car Source protect their property later in the evening.
“You will see the events of that night unfold in video and still photographs. But ultimately, what this case will come down to, it isn’t a whodunit, when did it happen, or anything like that. It is, was Kyle Rittenhouse’s action privileged under the law of self-defense?” Richards told the jury.
Richards acknowledged that Rittenhouse was the only person who shot someone that night, but said he was the only person that was chased by Rosenbaum.
“Mr. Rittenhouse was the only person who was chased by Joseph Rosenbaum that evening,” Richards said.
Richards showed the jury photos of Joseph Rosenbaum, saying it helps them identify him.
Richards told the jury that Rosenbaum, along with other people, lit a dumpster on fire. Richards said Rosenbaum became “enraged” after someone had put the dumpster fire out, which was near a gas station.
The jury was shown a video of Rosenbaum saying, “Shoot me, n—a” twice.
Richards said Rosenbaum was directing anger towards a person with a baseball cap, rifle and short pants. Richards said that individual “looked very much like Kyle Rittenhouse.”
Richards continued to show the jury photos of Rosenbaum, one of which shows him with a chain.
Richards said a man, identified as Joshua Ziminski, fired his gun into the air as Rittenhouse was being chased by Rosenbaum.
Richards continued to show the jury photos of what transpired that night, including Anthony Huber swinging his skateboard at Rittenhouse.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I would love to be able to hold up that skateboard in front of you as evidence today because then you can see it. You can see the weight, and the heft of what a skateboard is and what that skateboard would do if somebody takes it in their hand and swings down on somebody’s shoulder, head and neck, trying to separate the head from the body as Mr. Huber did,” Richards said while demonstrating the motion.
“You’ll see the photographs, you’ll see the videos, and ultimately you’ll get to make the decision of what Anthony Huber was trying to do,” he told the jury.
Richards showed the jury a photo of the unknown individual who jump-kicked Rittenhouse, who he referred to as “jump kick man.”
He explained the photo to the jury, saying, “Kyle is laying on the ground after being knocked to the ground by an individual hitting his head with a rock. Anthony Huber is hitting him with a skateboard and jump kick man comes in, kicks him (Rittenhouse) square in the face with his black boot.”
Richards said after Rittenhouse fired the two shots, the unknown individual “runs away into the night never to be seen again” despite efforts by the defense and prosecutors to identify him.
Richards argued Rittenhouse was not looking for trouble when he left from a short confrontation with an individual accusing Rittenhouse of pointing a laser from a gun at him.
“Kyle shrugs it off, does not want confrontation with these individuals, did not point his firearm at him and he leaves. Why does he leave? Because he doesn’t want trouble,” Richards said.
Richards shows the jury infrared video from the FBI plane, saying Rittenhouse was trying to get away from Rosenbaum.
Richards also told the jury that Rittenhouse decided to retreat from Rosenbaum, even though he had “no obligation whatsoever to retreat from Rosenbaum.”
While Rosenbaum was chasing Rittenhouse, Ziminski fired a shot. Richards said Rittenhouse turned and addressed Rosenbaum, but he was “not deterred” and continued to run towards Rittenhouse, “closing the distance.”
Richards told the jury that Rosenbaum used his shirt as a face mask when chasing Rittenhouse to conceal his identity and to steal Rittenhouse’s gun.
“Mr. Rosenbaum is wearing that maroon shirt on his face as a mask, covering up his identity, because he wants to steal my client’s firearm and use it against him to carry out the threat he had made earlier.”
Richards said Richard McGinnis, a reporter who was following the chase, will testify that Rosenbaum let out “one of the scariest screams I’ve ever heard yelling f–k you and dove for Kyle Rittenhouse’s gun.”
Richards said Rittenhouse fired four times in a span of 76 hundredths of a second from first shot to last shot.
The jury was shown more photos and videos of the events that unfolded.
After Rittenhouse fired four shots, Richards said the evidence will show an unknown person in the Car Source parking lot firing three shots.
Richards showed the jury video of Rittenhouse running away after shooting Rosenbaum.
“He’s not taking his gun, he’s not threatening anyone as he’s running down Sheridan Road,” Richards said.
He said Rittenhouse was running towards law enforcement at 60th Street.
“The evidence will show that is where law enforcement is and that’s where somebody would run to be protected from a mob that wants to kill him,” Richards said.
Richards showed a video taken by Grosskreutz where he asked Rittenhouse what he was doing.
“Hey, what are you doing? You shot somebody?” Grosskreutz can be heard in the video.
“I’m going to get police,” Rittenhouse said while running towards 60th Street.
“You see him running with the gun at the ground away from Mr. Grosskreutz. Mr. Grosskreutz came up on Kyle and got very close. Did Kyle point a firearm at him? Did Kyle shoot at him? No. All he wanted to do was get to the police,” Richards said.
The jury watched more photos and videos, one of which Richards said was an individual who ran up behind Rittenhouse and hit him in the head with a rock, which knocked his hat off.
Richards showed a photo to the jury of Huber picking up his skateboard off the ground. Richards said the skateboard was on the ground because Huber swung it at Rittenhouse’s head for the first time while he was running away.
“Why is his skateboard on the ground? Because he has taken his skateboard and swung it at Kyle Rittenhouse’s head for the first time, hitting him in the head and you could see in the blue circle Kyle Rittenhouse beginning to fall down.”
Richards showed photos of the rest of the incident, including “jump kick man” and Huber’s skateboard making contact with Rittenhouse’s head while Huber’s left hand is grabbing onto Rittenhouse’s gun.
“Where’s Mr. Huber’s hand? And it’s important here, ladies and gentlemen, it’s a bare hand grabbing his (Rittenhouse’s) gun.”
After Huber is shot, Richards shows photos of Grosskreutz approaching Rittenhouse, putting his hands up at first, but then “he moves in on Kyle, getting closer, pointing the gun almost directly at his head.”
“Another individual approaches after Gaige Grosskreutz has been shot and puts his hands up. Kyle Rittenhouse does nothing,” Richards says as he describes a photo to the jury.
Richards again stressed the timing of the shots to the jury.
He said Dominick Black will testify that he saw Rittenhouse “white as a ghost” and “sweating like a pig.”
Richards told the jury Black drove Rittenhouse home to Antioch when Rittenhouse, alongside his mother, turned himself in at the Antioch Police Department after midnight.
“The evidence will show that his actions on August 25th of 2020 were reasonable under the circumstances as they existed that night, being attacked by Mr. Rosenbaum,” Richards said as he ended his statement.
After a lunch break, Dominick Black was called to the stand. Black was asked questions by Binger first.
“Kyle had also wanted a gun similar to the one I had. I did not have the money for it, so he said he would pay for it. I told him that wasn’t a good idea, he wasn’t 18. But we came to an agreement to where he could have it once he is 18. It would be kept at my house until then,” Black told Binger.
Black said he purchased the gun, an AR-15, at a store in Ladysmith, Wisconsin using Rittenhouse’s money.
Black, who likes to hunt as a hobby, said he and Rittenhouse practiced shooting targets with the new gun at Black’s private shooting range.
Binger then showed the jury a photo of Rittenhouse’s TikTok page with a profile picture showing him posing with his AR-15.
When questioned, Black told Binger he stayed on the roof of Car Source the night of the shootings because he did not want to get hurt.
Black also said he had his own gun to protect himself.
He described a crowd that was pushed back towards him by the police when he was at Car Source.
Black said the crowd was violent and were “saying a lot of threats, throwing a lot of things.” He said the crowd directed threats at his group, the police and people within the crowd.
Later that night, after the shooting, Black received a phone call from Rittenhouse, he said.
“He just said ‘I shot somebody, I shot somebody’ and then hung up right away,” Black said.
He said he saw Rittenhouse a few minutes later and said, “he (Rittenhouse) was freaking out, he was really scared, he was pale, sweating a lot. You can tell he was just scared.”
“He just said he had to do it, it was self-defense, people were trying to hurt him,” Black said.
Black told Binger that Rittenhouse did not tell him someone was trying to attack him with a gun, knife or any sort of weapon.
Afterward, Black suggested that Rittenhouse should surrender to the police.
“But we couldn’t do it in the one in Kenosha because there was people rioting at the front doors. So I took him home and then we decided he should turn himself in at the nearest police department,” Black said.
When Binger asked Black if there was any discussion at the time on what Rittenhouse should do, Black said Rittenhouse wanted to leave to other families’ private property in Michigan or West Virginia.
Black said he advised Rittenhouse to turn himself in rather than flee, and Rittenhouse took Black’s advice.
Black also testified that he saw “some red marks” on Rittenhouse’s head, and he told Black that his head hurt.
The jurors were released around 5 p.m. Tuesday and were instructed to return on Wednesday as the trial continues into the third day.