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Jury Finds Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired November 19, 2021 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: A number of people who are there with signs who were perhaps hoping for a different outcome here.
But the jurors, they looked at the law. They looked at the jury instructions. They reviewed several pieces of evidence as they were deliberating, over the course of four days, 25 hours.
Not guilty on all charges, the end of the Kyle Rittenhouse trial.
The news continues right now with Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Hello, everyone. I'm Alisyn Camerota. Welcome to NEWSROOM. Victor is off.
We do have breaking news.
Minutes ago, a jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all counts. Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he fatally shot two men and wounded a third with an AR-15-style rifle that he brought to racial justice protests in August of 2020. He was charged with homicide and reckless endangerment.
He could have gotten a life sentence, but will walk free today. Rittenhouse took the stand during trial, testifying that he acted in self-defense. The jury deliberated for roughly 25 hours.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: as to the first count of the information, Joseph Rosenbaum, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.
As to the second count of the information, Richard McGinniss, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.
As to the third count of the information, unknown male, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse not guilty. As to the fourth count of the information, Anthony Huber, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty.
As to the fifth count of the information, Gaige Grosskreutz, we, the jury, find the defendant, Kyle H. Rittenhouse, not guilty. JUDGE BRUCE SCHROEDER, KENOSHA COUNTY CIRCUIT COURT: Members of the
jury, are these your unanimous verdicts? Is there anyone who does not agree with the verdicts as read?
Would you wish the jury polled?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: We have a team of reporters on the ground in Kenosha.
First, let's go to CNN senior national correspondent Sara Sidner, who is outside the courthouse there.
Sara, I know you were inside the courtroom for the verdict. And we just watched that video of Kyle Rittenhouse collapsing behind the desk. So just describe that moment that the verdicts were read.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For each of the verdicts, you could see him starting to choke up. You could see his neck moving. You could see his head bobbing a bit.
And then when the final verdict was read and all of them were not guilty, he did collapse there in a show of emotion. As you might imagine, this is a person who is 18 years old and was facing life imprisonment for some of these charges.
We also know that behind him you would see his family. And I noticed his mom. She -- there was an audible gasp from her in the first not guilty and then, as this went along, her hands -- her head fell into her hands, where she appeared to be crying in relief at this.
And, as you know, this means that Kyle Rittenhouse is now a free man at 18 years old. He can go about his life. He cannot be tried again for this -- for these crimes in this case from what happened in August. You're seeing there again one of his attorneys just helping him up.
He is -- obviously, this has been extremely stressful for everyone involved in this, not only, obviously, Kyle Rittenhouse, but the families of those who were shot by Kyle Rittenhouse, two of whom were killed. One of the people shot took the stand and was a key witness in this case.
I do want to read you something that we just received. Our producer Jason Kravarik received this from the family of John -- of Mr. Huber. And, as you know, Huber, Anthony Huber, was one of the people, the second person shot and killed that night in August by Kyle Rittenhouse, coming at him with his skateboard, making contact, hitting Kyle Rittenhouse.
The mother and father of Anthony Huber said this. And I'm just going to read it to you, so that it is accurate. They said that: "We are heartbroken and angry that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in his criminal trial for the murder of our son, Anthony Huber. There was no justice today for Anthony or for Mr. Rittenhouse's other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz."
You will remember that Gaige Grosskreutz was shot, but did not die. His bicep was basically blown off, and he did take the stand in this case.
We should also mention that the mother and father of Mr. Huber, Anthony Huber, were not in the court watching all of this. And they explained why. They said they just could not take the emotional toll from sitting in trial.
However, members of Anthony Huber's family were there. His aunt, for example, was in court watching all of the machinations of this court and waiting for the jury's decision.
But you hear there from a family who felt that their son was trying to do something valiant, and they feel like justice was not served here. You will, of course, hear the complete opposite from Kyle Rittenhouse, his family and his attorneys, who feel that Kyle Rittenhouse, as the jury also decided, was innocent of all of these shootings and did so in self-defense.
I do want to talk to you a little bit about some of the things that we learned in this case, while the trial was going on that was not public knowledge or was not widely known publicly.
One of the things we learned is that there is this drone video, high- resolution drone video that many folks had not seen, including the prosecution and defense, until five days into this trial. And that high-resolution drone video was taken by a civilian who had not, I guess, handed it over.
They could not find him. Both the defense and prosecution looked for him before the trial, could not find him. It ended up getting into the hands of the prosecution by someone from the civilian who had taken this drone video.
And that video was very clear. You could see what was happening in the first shooting that night, where Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum. Now, we also learned that the AR-15-style rifle that Rittenhouse carried that day in the streets was legal for him to possess, the judge saying that it had to be a certain measurement for it to be illegal for him to have hold of.
And so that was dropped right before the jury went to start deliberating in this case. The prosecution's comments on that, they didn't seem to know that the measurements made a huge difference here. But, indeed, the judge decided that is exactly what was the case. And so that was never adjudicated by this jury. The judge dropped that.
We also learned that Kyle Rittenhouse's father and other family members lived here in Kenosha, and that he was actually here in Kenosha the night before he went out into the street. There has been a lot of politicians and there have been a lot of folks on social media saying that he came over with his gun crossing state lines with that gun. That is not the case.
We learned that in this trial, that, indeed, the gun was actually here in Kenosha at the family of a friend's house who bought that rifle for him, and that he ended up with it that night, not taking it across state lines to come to the protest, but taking it from his friend's family's home.
We do know, though, in this case that there are high emotions everywhere, that politics has played in this, with the right and left going at it over what they think should happen. And we're seeing that play out on the steps of the courthouse as well.
CAMEROTA: Yes, Sara, thank you for all that. Stand by for us. Obviously, we will come back to you, because there is a lot happening outside of the courthouse right now.
We want to go to CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He's also been following this trial every day for us in Kenosha.
And, Shimon, I understand that you talked to the defense attorneys this morning. And were they confident? Were they anxious? How were they feeling after almost 25 hours of deliberation?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: I think there certainly was some anxiety from them, because they -- for both of them, Corey Chirafisi and Mark Richards, the two defense attorneys, they have never waited this long for a verdict. They have been attorneys for a long time, Mark Richards an attorney for 30 years.
This is the longest he's had to wait for a verdict. They felt they put on a pretty strong defense. Obviously, having Rittenhouse testify, that was a big moment in this case. I was in there for some of that testimony. Remember, the jurors at one point felt some sort of sense that there was some compassion for him. His testimony was clearly effective.
The other thing, certainly, for them this morning, they couldn't understand what was taking so long. They thought maybe there was one or two holdouts. They were very interested about what happened here yesterday with that juror who wanted to take the notes home, the jury instructions, that she wanted to take those home.
They were worried that may work against them, but it may in the end have helped them, because maybe perhaps this was the one holdout or something. So maybe we will find out, maybe not.
But this morning for them, they kind of were going about their business. We saw Kyle Rittenhouse in the courtroom. he's not in jail. He's been out. So he's been able to move a little bit about around the courthouse. He has security around him. So we got to see him today.
There was certainly some anxiety, but they were pretty confident they put on a really good case. And when you look at really this case and the way the prosecution presented it, they had problems from the beginning with some of their witnesses, who, remember, somehow were better for the defense.
These were prosecution witnesses, but once they took the stand, certainly, they sounded and they gave the sense of such chaos on the night of the shooting, because it wasn't just about the moment when Kyle Rittenhouse fired his weapon. It was always about the lead-up to that and the events that were going on.
And, really, the video painted such a picture, such a chaos, such a scary scene in some ways for many of these jurors. They did an amazing job really bringing those jurors back to that night. Many of them, they're from the community, so they remember it.
And that was something that they did very, very well. And, clearly, the jurors here believed it, and they understood it. And so they clearly now have made their decision. And so it's an acquittal on all counts.
We do think we will be hearing from one of the defense attorneys at some point. He did tell me. Mark Richards said that he was going to be talking to the media. Prosecutors, we don't expect to hear from them. But we certainly do expect to hear from the defense team.
And that should happen hopefully sometime later tonight.
CAMEROTA: It's also possible we will hear from some of the jurors.
The judge there at the end gave them basically permission or reminded them, right, that they had permission to speak, if they wanted to, to the media. I think that was his message to them.
CAMEROTA: Yes, Shimon, stand by, if you would.
We want to go now to Adrienne Broaddus. She's also love for us in Kenosha.
Adrienne, I watched. You were in the thick of the emotions right after the verdicts were read. So tell us what's happening on the ground.
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's peaceful. It's calmed down from that moment that you witnessed earlier.
Listen, today is November 19. It's a day of relief for some and for others in this community, it's a day of sadness. Behind us, on the steps of the courthouse, you have a few supporters, folks who've been here throughout the past two weeks in support of Kyle Rittenhouse.
You also have other folks who told me just moments ago that, in their eyes, justice was not served today, including the uncle of Jacob Blake, Justin. Now, who's Jacob Blake? For those of you who may be wondering, we have
to take a step back and really look at why we are here, what led to this moment. That night in August, there were protests in Kenosha. Folks were out protesting what they called police brutality after Jacob Blake was shot multiple times in the back by Kenosha police.
Last year, in January, on January 5, Jacob Blake's uncle Justin was here. That was the day the officer who shot his nephew, who he calls little Jake, was cleared of all wrongdoing.
And when he heard the verdict, he said, today, November 19 was worse than that day in January. He described it as layering a cake. And he says the layers on the cake get thicker and thicker, and he said it's hard to bear.
But he encouraged everyone here to remain peaceful. He told them to go home, rest, pull up their bootstraps, because he said they have work to do. And when he talks about work, he's not only talking about the work that he believes needs to happen here in Kenosha, but he's talking around -- about work that needs to happen around the country, also referencing to what's playing out in Georgia, where the three men are on trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.
But today was a disappointing day for the family of Jacob Blake, and their thoughts and prayers and hearts are really with the deceased family, the two men who called Kyle Rittenhouse shot and killed -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Adrienne, stand by for us. Thank you very much for all that.
We want to go back to Sara Sidner.
And, Sara, on that point, I mean, we all remember that summer, the summer when, after Jacob Blake was shot, certainly after George Floyd was shot, and the protests, the grassroot protests of people who felt that there were so many just injustices, basically, and they took to the streets.
And so how -- was that backdrop president through all of this?
SIDNER: Absolutely. Absolutely.
It's present here outside of the court. As I mentioned, Jacob Blake's uncle, who is just walking behind me, was here every single day in support of those who were shot and killed or shot and injured by Kyle Rittenhouse. There were folks who would show up who, as you just heard Adrienne say, who are here in support of Kyle Rittenhouse.
The racial undertones are, of course, here. There are black folks here in town who will tell you that they believed that he was going to get off and that it is all -- it was all set and ready because he happened to be a young white child of 17 at the time.
And there are folks here who believe that he would be found guilty because of his color and because he had a large AR-style gun, and they are upset about the Second Amendment. I mean, there are so many things politically that play into this in the minds of folks who are out here.
But I will say this. Many of the folks who were out here on the steps were not listening to the trial every day. They were not in the courtroom every day listening to all of the details. They were outside, sometimes listening, sometimes arguing, sometimes coming up with their own ideas of what has happened.
And that also has played out on social media, as it has played out in every single case, in every single political argument that we have seen ever since Twitter and Facebook and all of the rest have existed. And so you are seeing this play out in America online in a very different way than it played out inside of the court, where you were watching every single detail, where you were learning every single detail of what happened and watching all of the video, which I have watched over and over and over again.
Some of the new video, the drone video is very important, and some of the video that we have all seen of people chasing after Mr. Rittenhouse. But there are still very raw emotions here, because there's a lot of talk about, if he happened to be black. What would this be? How would this have ended?
And those discussions are going to be going on in America for time immemorial. And that is not something that this court was trying to concern itself with. It was trying to get the jury to see things very plainly with the evidence that was in front of them.
And they did so. They looked at it. We know that they were diligent because they spent 25 hours, every single day for five, six hours a day, looking at this video, trying to discern what the truth was here and trying to make -- come up with a vertical they felt was just.
Of course, people -- not everyone is going to feel this is just. There are two people who are dead and there is one person who was terribly injured in all of this. One thing that we learned that night in August when this shooting happened is that a lot of folks had guns. There was someone who fired before Mr. Rittenhouse fired. There was someone who had a gun that was not permitted at the time.
There were lots of folks who were armed. And what we also learned is that having the gun strapped across their chest -- and there were quite a few people that came to Kenosha or that were in Kenosha that had guns that were visible and they are legally allowed to carry in the state. It actually ended up causing -- instead of them saying, look, this is for our defense, it ended up causing a lot of consternation and arguments, where there were a lot of folks that were, no pun intended, triggered by the fact that there were these large war-looking weapons out in the street.
But it is legal to carry here in Kenosha and in Wisconsin. And people have been doing so. But this has also-called into the light the fight over the Second Amendment as well. And so there are lots of different political angles here. There is a racial backdrop here that is playing out, but it has -- I want to reiterate this. It has remained calm.
Throughout this two-and-a-half weeks of the trial and now the jury deliberations and verdict, it really has remained calm. There have been a couple of scuffles. There have been a couple of arguments. There have been some detentions. And there have been a couple of problems, but really literally a couple.
It has been cordial. I even saw people arguing and then agreeing on a few points of what was going on in the trial, even though they were on opposite sides of the spectrum. And so there is discussion that is going to be had about this for years, I assume, to come -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Sara, that's -- you make such great points. I mean, obviously, there's strong feelings and there's emotions, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the law and whether or not a conviction is warranted, as you point out.
And you listened to the evidence, as the jury did, and this is what they have come up with.
Shimon is also -- Shimon Perez (sic) is also standing by for us.
Shimon, tell us what you're seeing and the points you want to make.
PROKUPECZ: So, we're getting some information regarding the jury, just sort of some color there, a pool reporter who just put this out who was obviously in the courtroom saying that the jury of, some jurors looked fatigued in the jury box as the verdicts were read, some with their hands on their chins or rubbing their eyes.
Others appeared ill at ease, shifting in their chairs or folding their arms across their chests. So this is just some color. This jury, it's been actually incredible to watch them specifically during these deliberations, the few times that we got to see them, because they did deliberate for quite some time, when you think about 24, 25-plus hours that they were deliberating.
We didn't hear much from them. They didn't ask for much. I know there was that one day where they had several questions about the video. And video seems to be obviously -- this was the main thing of this case, this video, but it was the drone video that they asked for that the judge cleared the courtroom for and played for 45 minutes.
The prosecution really thought this was going to be sort of like their smoking gun, like, this video was going to help them. And the defense was worried about it. That's why they wanted it thrown out. They were worried that this video was going to prove for the prosecution that Kyle Rittenhouse was the instigator, that provocation charge.
So, they were really worried about that video. The jurors did not have a lot of questions, other than that one day, concerning the video. And then for the most part, they just worked. They kind of quietly worked, did their jobs. The last thing they did today that we were told of was order lunch, and then within an hour after that or so, we started getting indications that something was going on, and that there was this verdict.
Obviously, there were a lot of key points in this case. The other thing is, on the prosecution side, when their witness, one of their witnesses testified, Grosskreutz, who had a weapon, that seemed to really shift the case for the prosecution.
Once the defense got him to admit that he pointed his gun -- he had a gun on him that night, a handgun. He had his gun on him that night and that he pointed it at one point towards Kyle Rittenhouse, it was pointed at him, and then Rittenhouse, that is when he opened fire, you could start to sense that things were shifting in this case almost immediately after that, because, even when the prosecution tried to rehabilitate him and then did a redirect examination, and they were asking him about that, he admitted that he had the gun.
And then the other issue was that the defense made a big issue is that he, who had a handgun, did not have a license, a concealed license to carry a weapon. He was never charged. So there were all these problems with the different witnesses that the prosecution brought into the case from -- the main person that was shot here was the first person that was shot, that he was a problem for the prosecution, because the defense did such a job of showing all the chaos that night.
And the video certainly helped them point that out.
CAMEROTA: Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much. Our thanks to Sara and Adrienne as well. We will check back with them.
Joining us now to deal with all this breaking news, we have our CNN senior legal analysts Laura Coates and Elie Honig and jury consultant and attorney Alan Tuerkheimer, and Eric Guster is a criminal and civil trial attorney.
So, just to bring everybody up to speed, again, Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all five counts, including the lesser included ones that were added.
So, Elie, a surprise?
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Alisyn, it's not a surprise, because, in our criminal justice system, it is designed to be difficult to convict any person. That's why we have the standard beyond a reasonable doubt. It's even more difficult when there's a self-defense claim.
And it's even more difficult on top of that in the state of Wisconsin, which has a self-defense law that's particularly favorable to a defendant. I think, ultimately, there were two key pieces of evidence in this case. One, this was a videotape case. Virtually all of the relevant conduct happened on videotape.
And this was a split-second, freeze-frame type of case. How close was Rosenbaum to Kyle Rittenhouse when he fired? And if you're in that close of a case, it's really hard to prove reasonable doubt. The other key moment was when Kyle Rittenhouse himself took the stand. The prosecution did not make enough of a dent in Kyle Rittenhouse. They scored some points here and there, but they did not fundamentally
undermine his testimony. Last thing is, Sara Sidner said it perfectly. She talked about how there's a backdrop here. There's a political backdrop, there's a racial backdrop. The point of our court system is to take these decisions away from that backdrop, put them in a box and get a just verdict.
CAMEROTA: Laura, do you agree that the videotape was the most compelling part of this for the jurors?
LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think Kyle Rittenhouse's testimony was most compelling, because the jury instructions were really centered around that term reasonable, defining the word reasonable.
And the jury instructions required this jury to look through the lens and perspective of Kyle Rittenhouse, not Monday morning quarterback, not the jurors or the court of public opinion in hindsight. What would he reasonably and what did he reasonably believed about the possibility of a lethal threat or harm and grave bodily harm, not just actual dying, but grave bodily harm as well?
And in doing so, then the prosecution has to disprove that somehow it wasn't reasonable for him to feel that way. Now, on closing, the prosecution did a very good job of trying to collect the tissue, connect the dots, but their closing was admittedly stronger than the actual theme of their case.
They decided instead to talk about him as an active shooter, what they had pointed on before, but the idea of him being an active shooter and that who actually was entitled to self-defense were the victims in this case.
But they still had that burden to disprove that that which he was seeing and experiencing and what the defense painted as a very chaotic scene, these jurors who were taken from the actual community with a memory of the perceived chaos. That was what they were up against.
It was a very hard case from the beginning. And Elie's right. The threshold in Wisconsin is not that he had to prove that he was completely reasonable beyond a reasonable doubt. No, the prosecution had the burden to disprove that he actually was not reasonable or was thinking he was reasonable in this case.
And so with all of that combined, it's not surprising that they were -- that an acquittal happened. But it came down really to that jury instruction about looking through the eyes of Kyle Rittenhouse. And also, finally, there was also the notion about provocation.
Remember, he was not entitled to self-defense if he provoked and his belief was not reasonable and he failed to exhaust all reasonable means of escape that he knew about. They tried to show he was not reasonable. They tried to show that his presence alone was provocative, which, if you look Wisconsin, where gun ownership is not equated with criminal activity, they could not show at the end as well that he failed to escape.
They showed him running. The defense pointed at that. And the chaotic scene combined to lead this acquittal. I hate to in any way vilify prosecutors. They did what they could with the facts of this case, but the deck was stacked against him, not the least of which the judge, in many ways had their hands tied behind their backs.
CAMEROTA: Just want to let everyone know that we have just learned that the defense attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse will hold a news conference soon.
So, of course, we will bring you that live. But we want to go out to Shimon on the ground first.
So, Shimon, what are you hearing?
PROKUPECZ: So, the governor, the governor here, Governor Evers, released a statement just moments ago, and obviously urging for peace and calm.
But I will read some of what he what he's saying. He's saying that: "No verdict will be able to bring back the lives of Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum or heal Gaige Grosskreutz's injuries, just as no verdict can heal the wounds or trauma experienced by Jacob Blake and his family. No ruling today changes our reality in Wisconsin that we have work to do toward equity, accountability and justice that communities across our state are demanding and deserve."
So, obviously, he's urging calm and making sure that there's no trouble here. Remember, the governor ordered up the National Guard, 500 National Guard troops, just in case they're on standby outside of Kenosha, and, if they're needed, they will be brought in.
But so far, as you can see, for the most part outside of court here, it's been calm. People have been voicing their feelings, some people in favor of Kyle Rittenhouse, and obviously many of the people who are supporters of Jacob Blake, and you can't separate the two, really, this case and Jacob Blake.
And you see this with the governor here with his statement. He also says -- I just want to read something about Kenosha here. He says that: "Kenoshans are strong, resilient and have spent the last year working every day together toward healing this case and resulting national spotlight on the Kenosha community."
Having spent some time here from when this for all first happened, and of course, Sara, as well, we have gotten to know a lot of the people in this community. And this has taken a tremendous toll on this community. There are a lot of small shops here. There are a lot of stores. And so they were bracing for this.
They were ready for this, given what happened previously. But most of them have been very supportive of the process and wanting this to play out and wanting this to work out. And they supported whatever was going to happen was going to happen. So, for this community, it's important obviously that things kind of
continue the way they are, peaceful, that there's no trouble. Certainly, the police and the governor are ready. And they're hoping, obviously, that there is no trouble. And as you can see, for now, at least outside -- and I think it's important to point this out, because there was a lot of heated moments on the steps of this courthouse.
You would walk into this courthouse every morning, and there were people on both sides. But they were there. They stood there. They argued with each other. They voiced their opinions. No one really fought. There were small incidents, but nothing major.
And you're seeing a lot of that, as you can see in the video there, the people standing around with signs, really just talking with each other and arguing at times, but they were mostly peaceful.
And so the governor obviously urging people to remain calm, but also reminding people that there's a lot more work that needs to be done.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I'm glad you're pointing that out, Shimon. I think that is really important to highlight, that there can be very tense and heated emotions, but it doesn't have to devolve into violence.
CAMEROTA: So, I'm so glad you're pointing that...
PROKUPECZ: Can I just make one other point?
CAMEROTA: Yes. Yes.
PROKUPECZ: And I'm sorry. I don't mean -- but I think this is important to point out, because having been here for the last three weeks in covering this trial, the way that the court staff here has conducted themselves, in terms of the people and the media, it's been a very open courthouse.
They have allowed us in. Obviously, we were able to have cameras inside a court, and what an important process that is. They have been very welcoming to people in the community, obviously, families on all sides. And I think that's very, very important to note, because we don't get eyes into courtrooms all across the country like we need to.
And so having this ability to do this here, how important it was and how important it was for this courthouse and this team here to do it, and I think people should recognize that. Whatever side you're on here, the fact that we were able to see this all play out is really, really important.
CAMEROTA: Yes, I think that's an excellent point also, because the reaction might have been worse had people not had transparency...
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
CAMEROTA: ... into exactly how the trial unfolded.
PROKUPECZ: That's right.
CAMEROTA: Shimon, stick around.