Defense attorney explains what jurors will consider as they deliberate in Rittenhouse trial

MADISON, Wis. — Jurors in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial are set to begin deliberations Tuesday morning after prosecutors and defense attorneys made their closing arguments on Monday.

Rittenhouse, 18, faces five felonies for shooting three people, two fatally, during last summer’s unrest in Kenosha sparked by a police officer’s shooting of Jacob Blake.

The charges include one count of first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of recklessly endangering safety, one count of first-degree intentional homicide and one count of attempted first-degree homicide. All five charges include modifiers involving the use of a dangerous weapon.

Judge Bruce Schroeder dropped a gun charge Rittenhouse faced Monday and agreed to allow jurors to consider lesser charges, the Associated Press reported.

“We’ve seen a lot of testimony, we’ve seen a lot of contentious advocacy between the groups of lawyers,” Jessa Nicholson Goetz, a Madison-based defense attorney who briefly represented Rittenhouse, said.

Jurors will have a lot to consider as they weigh whether Rittenhouse, as his attorneys argued, acted in self-defense or if he instigated violence as prosecutors alleged.

“In the context of a first-degree homicide, they simply need to conclude that Kyle believed it was necessary to act with deadly force,” Nicholson Goetz said. “Second-degree intentional homicide requires an objective element as well.”

Nicholson Goetz said Wisconsin has robust self-defense laws, but it’s the intentional homicide charges that carry the longest prison sentences if convicted.

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“The maximum penalty for a first-degree reckless homicide is much higher than that of a second-degree,” she said.

Nicholson Goetz expects the jury to acquit Rittenhouse on the homicide charges.

“I think the facts support acquittals,” she said.

Regardless of the outcome, Nicholson Goetz knows someone will be upset with the verdict.

“I think this is an extremely divisive case, I think that there are going to be people that are unhappy no matter which way this verdict comes out,” she said.