Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand Wednesday in his homicide trial for the Kenosha, Wisconsin, shootings which killed two men and injured a third, sobbing as he recalled being ‘cornered’ in one of the encounters.
The 18-year-old was called by his defense team to testify about last year’s riots shootings that killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 27.
Questioning Wednesday turned to the details of Rittenhouse’s encounter with Rosenbaum, the first person he shot and killed. During his recount of the events, Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum was carrying a chain, screaming and shouting racial epithets and threatening his life.
‘That’s when I run,’ Rittenhouse said, before becoming too emotional to continue. Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder then called a brief recess.
Rittenhouse testified that Rosenbaum had threatened to kill him twice that night.
‘He screamed, if I catch any of you alone, I’m going to f***ing kill you,’ Rittenhouse said.
Rittenhouse then shot Huber, after he struck him in the neck with his skateboard and grabbed his rifle.
The teenager said of Huber: ‘He would’ve stomped my face if I hadn’t fired’, and added, ‘I fired one shot’.
When asked why he immediately tried to turn himself in to the police, Rittenhouse replied, ‘I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself.’
The former police youth cadet was 17 years old when he went to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he maintains was an effort to safeguard property. At the time, protestors flooded the streets of Kenosha following the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed from the waist down.
Rittenhouse faces six criminal charges, including intentional homicide for the fatal shootings, which he says he did out of self defense. He could get life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges against him.
As soon as he was called to the stand, Rittenhouse was asked, ‘Did you come into downtown Kenosha looking for trouble?’
‘No,’ he replied.
Rittenhouse also contested a claim made by the third person shot, Gaige Grosskreutz, who had told the jury that Rittenhouse had ‘re-racked’ his weapon.
‘I did not,’ Rittenhouse said.
Rittenhouse testified that after he fell to the ground, he saw Grosskreutz standing in front of him. He said that he saw a pistol in Grosskreutz’s hand.
‘That’s when I shoot him,’ Rittenhouse said, adding he did not know where he shot him at the time and that afterward, he felt Grosskreutz was ‘no longer a threat to me’.
Prosecutor Thomas Binger during his cross-examination asked Rittenhouse whether he intended to kill everyone he shot.
‘Everyone you shot at that night you intended to kill, correct?’
‘I didn’t intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me,’ Rittenhouse replied.
The district attorney pressed Rittenhouse further, saying that he stopped these people by ‘killing them’. Rittenhouse responded by saying, ‘Two of them passed away, but I stopped the threat from attacking me’.
Rittenhouse eventually agreed with Binger that he intentionally used ‘deadly force’ that night.
‘I didn’t know if it was going to kill them, but I used deadly force to stop the threat that was attacking me,’ Rittenhouse said.
Cross-examination became so heated that Schroeder ordered Binger to pause, in order to admonish his line of questioning.