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Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty On All Charges; Rittenhouse Defense Attorney Mark Richards Speaks To Media. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired November 19, 2021 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Whatever side you're on here, the fact that we were able to see this all play out is really, really important.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Yes, I think that is an excellent point also. Because the reaction might have been worse had people not had transparency into exactly how the trial unfolded.
PROKUPECZ: That is right.
CAMEROTA: Shimon, stick around, if you would.
We want to go back to Sara.
Because I know more reaction is pouring in, Sara, including from, if you could hear me, from high-profile renowned attorney, Ben Crump, who, of course, represented George Floyd's family after George Floyd was killed by Derek Chauvin.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. He also was involved here in Kenosha and on the ground in Kenosha for the family of Jacob Blake, who was shot by a police officer and injured, shot in the back several times.
He has just made a statement on this case. And here is what he had to say. And I'm going to -- excuse me while I read this because it is -- I want to make sure it is accurate.
He said that, "If you needed yet another example of the two justice systems at work in America, look no further than the delayed arrest and spectacle of a trial and acquittal of Kyle Rittenhouse."
"Rittenhouse, a self-declared white nationalist" -- which is not true - "who crossed state lines and unlawfully possessed an A.R.-15."
And those details in court came out saying he did not bring that A.R.- 15 across state lines.
Indeed, that A.R.-15-style weapon was inside of a home here in Kenosha that his friend bought that A.R.-15 for Kyle Rittenhouse because he was too young to purchase a weapon because he was 17 at the time.
But that was being held here in Kenosha. Now when he left after the shootings, he then got into -- there was
some trouble there.
But the truth of the matter is, this is part of the issue that happens, is that there's a line that everyone kind of sticks to.
And this has been a very difficult time, I think, for those that are watching the trial, because everyone is in their corners in this particular case.
But clearly, you know, Benjamin Crump has been here with the family who feels -- the Jacob Blake family, who feels there was injustice in that case.
And then to see an acquittal, he feels like there's injustice for Kyle Rittenhouse in this case and for the community in this case.
We have to be clear about the facts are and what came out in this trial, what the prosecution, you know, put forward to this jury and what the defense put forward to this jury.
And so as you see some of the comments coming down, a lot of the -- there were several politicians who made comments about Kyle Rittenhouse and what his background was and what he was doing here and why he was here.
And we learned that his father lives here, that he has family that lives here, and that he was working in the area in the night before this shooting happened.
That being said, there were a lot of folks here who are parsing out a lot of this and they feel, had the races been reversed, this could be a very different verdict.
But that is what they feel and that is not the facts that that we know for sure.
What we know for sure is that the jury spent three and a half days, looking over every single day for hours the evidence that was in front of them.
The evidence that was allowed into this case, the evidence that the prosecution put forward and the evidence that the defense put forward, and they came up with a verdict.
And in this country, when a jury comes up with a verdict, that is generally the final word, if someone is acquitted. Because you cannot try someone twice. There's no double jeopardy in this country.
And so at this point, Kyle Rittenhouse will walk out of this court and as a free person. That is basically the case here.
And it has been calm so far with a little bit of arguing on the court steps but, so far, calm.
CAMEROTA: OK, Sara, stand by. This is Kyle Rittenhouse's defense attorney speaking.
MARK RICHARDS, DEFENSE ATTORNEY FOR KYLE RITTENHOUSE: -- a gross understatement.
And Kyle is not here. He's on his way home. He wants to get on with his life.
He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this would have ever happened.
But as he said when he testified, he did not start this. And we're thankful in more ways than one that the jury finally got to hear the true story.
And when I say the media, I'm talking about social media and things like that.
The story that came out from the beginning was not the true story. And that was something that we had to work to overcome in court. And we think we did that.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You said that he were both at times doubtful and confident, the length of the deliberation time, is it still more confidence or instilling a little bit of -- (INAUDIBLE)
RICHARDS: No. No, doubt. I never predict how long a jury will be out. But it was a longest jury deliberation I've ever been a part of it. I had an 18 hour and a 17 hour and one was a federal and one was a state case. It was torture.
And this might sound like a small thing but the judge wanted us to be within ten minutes. Obviously, my office isn't within 10 minutes. So we have are to sit in that room on the third floor and it was hell.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about the decision to put Kyle on the stand? Was that a close call for you do you think that made the difference in
RICHARDS: You want the truth?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes.
RICHARDS: Had to put on him. It wasn't a close call.
At certain points, we wondered whether we would put him on. We had a mock jury.
And we did two different jurors, one with him testifying and one without him testifying. And it was substantially better when he testified. And I mean to a marked degree. And that sealed it.
But in Wisconsin, if you don't put a client on the stand, you're going to lose, period.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you see as the crucial moment here?
RICHARDS: There were a lot.
I mean, I think -- I think it is at the beginning. But when Attorney Binger gave his opening statement and said so things that Kyle chased Rosenbaum down, I don't know where that came from to this day. That was ridiculous.
And that gave me something to really show and argue to a jury that this isn't fair, it's not a game. And I think that was huge.
Corey, my co-council -- and I stress the word co-council, he was not a second chair -- was incredible.
We fought over who got to cross-examine Gaige Grosskreutz and he won. And he did a better job than I would have.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: This is a racial justice and Second Amendment and self-defense. What does Kyle and his team want this verdict to be remembered for, this case to be remembered for?
RICHARDS: You know, when I took this case, I was hired by the two first lawyers -- I'm not going to use their names -- they wanted to use Kyle for a cause and something that I think was inappropriate.
And I don't represent causes. I represent clients. And the only thing that ended up mattering to me was whether he was found not guilty or not.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is that what Kyle wants?
RICHARDS: I believe that is what he wanted. And I told him when I first met him, when he was in custody, that if he was looking for somebody who would go off on a crusade, I wasn't his lawyer.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mark, throughout the week, you said, when I caught you in-between court --
RICHARDS: I never talked to you.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- that you were nervous and you didn't know what the heck was going on in that jury room.
Looking back on of that time waiting nearly 27 hours to this afternoon, you could walk me through sort of those emotions?
RICHARDS: I expected we kind of picked amongst ourselves, our wives and our friends, my associates in the building. And I had Tuesday at 4:30. So I was way wrong.
Nobody had it goes past Thursday. And there was talk today about whether they were going to deliberate on Saturday. I've never seen a jury -- and I don't mean this as a slight to them.
But they didn't have a lot of questions. We had no information that they ever fought. They were just working through the issues.
And you know, so it didn't -- it was the time that made me nervous. There wasn't any information coming out.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: They submitted five questions over that whole time and never asked to rewatch the videos beyond those five questions. Was that concerning or puzzling for you?
RICHARDS: You know, I was afraid of a compromise. I know it has been recorded that we asked for lesser included. We objected to all lesser included.
Kyle was questioned on lesser included but that wasn't our wish or Kyle's wish. And we as time went on, we were afraid there could be some horse trading in the jury room. And that is what really concerned us.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mark, you've been visibly frustrated with prosecution multiple times.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How would you characterize -- (INAUDIBLE)
RICHARDS: I was a prosecutor. Corey was a prosecutor. And I never went after somebody like they did.
And when they put on the Khindri brothers knowing that they were lying, that is a problem. This is this isn't, as I said in my closing argument, it is not a game. And you're playing with a 18-year-old kid's life.
And they were willing to put those guys on, Detective Howard and Detective Rammy (ph), and had both interviewed them. And in their police reports said we know you're lying.
I can't ask that question when they're on the witness stand of the detective because one witness can't comment on the another.
So, they put him on. They knew they were lying. And that is garbage.
And I'm thankful we're never going to have to litigate the issue regarding the drone video.
But they kept saying we stipulated to it. We let it in. We agreed to let it in. Because we saw the quality we were given and the jury couldn't see anything.
And then they're saying, well, this first lawyer had it, because it was on Tucker Carlson.
John Pierce (ph) never had that video. We've talked to FOX News. We've talked to Tucker Carlson's show.
The video that was on Tucker Carlson's show started right when Rosenbaum threw the bag. It did not start with the part that they showed at the beginning. It is a huge difference.
That is what they built their whole case on. With that garbage photo. And, you know, maybe -- you don't expect everything in a trial, ever.
And that program that they used, and the expert from the crime lab specifically says, on the company's blog, artificial intelligence enhancements are not to be used for forensic evidence. And they did it.
And our research after it, it would have been the subject of a huge motion. We don't have to do it.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And you said going into this trial you didn't want this to be -- (INAUDIBLE)
RICHARDS: You know, I didn't know that it says -- I mean, there's -- I personally don't like people carrying A.R.-15s around.
You know, there were so much anger and so much fear in Kenosha on August 25th that people did arm themselves.
And you know, we knew from the beginning that if you read that statute correctly -- I know everybody thought I was crazy -- but if you read the statute correctly, he was legal in having that firearm.
And once the evidence came in, the judge threw the charge. They threw the curfew.
And those were things that the state wanted to kind of hang their hat on. So they could argue he couldn't be there. He couldn't own the gun.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What was the first thing that Kyle Rittenhouse told you after the verdict was read -- (INAUDIBLE)
RICHARDS: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mark, the surviving victim, Grosskreutz, watching Kyle testify, as he looked like a kid who got caught doing something wrong.
What does Kyle want the families of the two men killed to know about how this played out because he talked about like he had -- clearly there was -- (INAUDIBLE)
RICHARDS: If Mr. Grosskreutz and the other people had let Kyle go to the police, there would only be one individual dead.
They referred to him, as I talked about it, as an active shooter. Anybody could look up the definition of a active shooter from the FBI, law enforcement. He didn't meet it.
But the way the words are so charged, that is what they used. They wanted to paint him as that.
I wish nobody died. I wish I never met Kyle Rittenhouse. And I don't mean that because he was a bad client. I just mean because then this wouldn't have happened.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Whether or not he feels he had to do it, is he remorseful or feel bad for those families?
RICHARDS: I think he does. We've talked about it.
There has been so much talk about whether the tears were genuine. All I can say is when we prepared Kyle, and we worked on this testimony, there were things we couldn't talk about in my office because it got too emotional and he couldn't handle it.
He's in counseling for PTSD. So he doesn't sleep at night.
Remorse, I think, manifests itself some other ways. I don't think he could walk out here and say that because of the situation.
But I know Kyle Rittenhouse and I know what he feels.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mark, along those lines, where does he go from here?
RICHARDS: I -- he has to get on with his life the best he can. I think eventually some anonymity will come back to it. I don't think he'll continue to live in this area. I think it is too dangerous.
He's had 24-hour security since this happened. We're thankful that the judge protected his address.
Everybody in this case -- and when I say that I mean prosecution, defense -- to me, it is scary how many death threats we've had.
I was answering my phone on the way back from court in Kenosha, my office isn't that far, after the third death threat, I quit answering the phone.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mark, what do you say to the people who may still think that he had no business being in Kenosha at the time, what do you say to the people who are -- (INAUDIBLE)
RICHARDS: He had as much business being there as any of the demonstrators or the rioters. That is all I can say.
I mean, there's going to be people who will never agree with that statement. But you know, if we all would just mind our own business a little bit better off. And it is a hard lesson to learn. But --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Couldn't that have been said about Kyle?
RICHARDS: It could be. He was asked to be there. He wanted to help the community. And that is the narrative that the state went with. He shouldn't have been there.
He was asked to be there by Nick and Dominic. And the Khindri brothers want security.
And, you know, I'm not trying to blame anyone. I wish he had never been separated from Ryan Balch and we wouldn't be here.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does he regret coming here no Kenosha?
RICHARDS: I don't believe he does.
I believe -- I mean, if he had to do it all over again and you said same thing is going to happen and you're going to life is going to be put in a living hell for a year and you're not going to know if you're a free man, he would say I wouldn't go.
But we can't undo time.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mark, the president was just asked about the verdict and he said I stand by what the jury has to say -- (INAUDIBLE)
RICHARDS: I --
RICHARDS: And I'm not laughing at President Biden. What I'm laughing at is a friend of mine, who is a lawyer, said, he goes -- and him and I had done a big case together seven, eight years ago.
And he said, do you think this Rittenhouse is going to be bigger than that case and I said, you know, I do.
And he said, why do you say that, and I said, I've never had a case, and I don't think I ever will where, within two days or three days of one another, the president and the presidential candidate comment on it.
And both of them had such different beliefs. President Biden said some things that I think are so incorrect and untrue. He's not a white supremacist. I'm glad that he respects the jury verdict.
And if the government had any information regarding his cell phone or anything that he had been to any of those Web sites, or been on online doing that kind of stuff, it would have been introduced in evidence. It wasn't.
We were the individuals who released his cell phone, which couldn't be cracked by the FBI because we had nothing to hide.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I got here late. Could you reiterate or go over his reaction immediately.
RICHARDS: No, I'm not doing reruns.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you plan to represent him in a civil action? RICHARDS: What's that?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you plan to represent him in a civil action?
RICHARDS: I'm a criminal defense attorney. I don't do civil stuff.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: You could talk about what is the one thing that you learned if you have to say the biggest takeaway from this case that you learned?
RICHARDS: Every case is different and every case has surprises. You know, I learned I could wait 24 hours for a verdict.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about the $2 million bond?
RICHARDS: I expect there will be a fight over that.
You know, John Pierce (ph) is the person who posted the bond. All of that money was raised on behalf of Kyle. Lin Wood say they're entitled to it.
There's -- and when I use round numbers but there was half a million dollars that came from Wendy Rittenhouse from money that she had raised.
So there's going to be a fight over that. And I'm just thankful that there will be a fight over that. Because if he lost, it wouldn't have mattered.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you say to the -- the first responders?
RICHARDS: He wants to be a nurse.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What is your biggest take away from the 25- plus-hour jury deliberation? What do you think that says?
RICHARDS: I need to be more patient.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Now that he has been -- could you book back and point to a pivotal moment that was successful for you that that you think created this outcome?
RICHARDS: Getting rid of the first two lawyers. And that might be a smart-alecky comment but I mean that.
And I got my best friend, Corey, to join, who I trust.
And to be able to work with somebody who you don't have to check their work, you don't worry about what they're going to be doing, you give them a project and it is done as good or better as you would do yourself, it is priceless.
[14:50:09] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There has been a lot of commentary on the prosecutors performance in this case. What would you say being up there with him every day?
RICHARDS: I think -- you must have gotten here a little bit late.
I've known Tom Binger for a long time. I knew him when he was a solo lawyer. I'm disappointed in some of the things he did. And I've said why.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
RICHARDS: Putting on the Khindri brothers when you know they're lying. Changing your prosecution, going with provocation after you say that my client chased him down and shot him in the back, calling him an active shooter when he's not.
You know, justice is done when the truth is reached. And I don't know that it's set up to do that. But a prosecutor is supposed to seek the truth. It's not about winning.
And this case became about winning. And that's probably why it got so personal.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: How about the judge? What do you say about the judge?
RICHARDS: You know, I've never seen so much made of so little. And that's not to pick on you guys or anything like that.
But I've tried cases as a prosecutor 100 years ago in Judge Schoeder. I tried cases as a defense lawyer. And he and I butted heads as a defense lawyer.
Judge Schroeder gives you a fair trial as a defendant. You don't want him to sentence your client, OK?
But in this case, we were looking for a fair trial. And if he lost, we knew what was going to happen. So it wouldn't matter if it was that judge or another judge. He's getting life in prison.
So I would rather have a fair trial. I thought he gave us a fair trial.
You know, everybody got all crazy about the tumbler. Who cares? That has nothing to do with this. I mean, I've seen the tumbler used before. I have seen clerks pull things out and suspicious things happen. Kyle pulled it out.
I'll be real honest, we had every juror scored on a sheet. And we were devastated when those three of the six jurors were separated from the panel because we thought they were three of our strongest jurors. And Kyle pulled their names. So I think it's a good system.
You know, I've got a trial in front of him, you know, a big case, and maybe in that one, I'll think he's unfair. But he's a fair judge. UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But he also said something about in the future
he plans on rethinking the possibility of why coverage to this extent, given what you guys have gone through, he mentioned that you guys went through a lot. There were threats made to you.
What do you think that that should be going forward setting a precedent about?
RICHARDS: I don't know about that.
You know, I think -- I think that I've never done a case that was televised gavel to gavel. I have cases that have gotten media coverage.
I was kind of -- I knew this case was big. I had no idea it was going to be this big. I mean, I've gotten calls from people I haven't seen in 25 years. It's just bizarre.
And I'll never be able to figure out exactly what it is that caused the interest that it did. I don't think it made the attorneys act different. I don't think it made the judge act different.
And I suspect when everything cools down, if there was another big case in front of Judge Schroeder, he would let the cameras in.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Will Kyle say anything to the crowd about -- we don't know there will be trouble.
RICHARDS: You know --
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But, you know, there's people gathering by the time we left. There was more and more people showing up.
Do you think anything he might say anything that could make things go better?
RICHARDS: I don't. The people who are going to end up causing trouble, they don't want to hear from Kyle Rittenhouse. And, you know, what, remain calm? You know?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you think the wider implications of this verdict are?
RICHARDS: I don't know -- you know, I don't think it's -- I don't think it's that kind of case.
You know, when you want to talk about implications and precedent, and things like that, is it ever going to happen again?
You know, is there ever going to be just a total unrest in Kenosha or some other city, and that's going to happen? You know, I just don't see that.
It was a case about self-defense, the right to protect oneself from, you know, Mr. Rosenbaum. I don't want to speak ill of the dead, but he wasn't a nice person,
and everybody knows why. And a lot of that didn't come in in front of the jury.
So I don't know that there's any broader implications. I don't mean to make it bigger than it is.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: A couple of politicians in this country used the word "vigilante." (INAUDIBLE). How do you react to that?
RICHARDS: Maybe they should have watched the trial.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE). Can you share more about the reaction from the family?
RICHARDS: You know, it's one of those things that anything that's said at this time is kind of meaningless. We have to take it in, reflect on it,
And, you know, what's he thanking me for? And I don't mean that it's insincere. But it takes a while to process what happened today.
I haven't processed it. I can't answer that question.
If I had to guess -- and it would be a guess -- I don't think they'll stay in Wisconsin.
I got a trial in a week. I'm going to take a couple of days off and go to the Badger game tomorrow, which I've missed. I've missed a couple of Badger games because of this trial.
And I'm very much -- we were afraid we weren't going to get to go because they were having to deliberate on Saturday. And I want to see them beat Nebraska.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you have any sense that they agreed to the verdict much earlier, took some extra time to at least give the impression? It wasn't a quick, sudden decision.
RICHARDS: I don't believe that. I don't believe that.
I mean, there was the questions and I think -- I said this to some people yesterday when they asked to call off at 4:00, you could see the tenseness in those people, the jurors, at least I could, or I sensed it, who were entering that room.
And you know, they wanted to quit early because I think they were tense. And if there was some early verdict and they were playing all of us for fools, they're great actors and actresses.
I don't think that was the case.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you think about the -- (INAUDIBLE) RICHARDS: I believe so. You know, I have clients from 30 years ago I still talk to. One of my oldest favorite clients, moved to Minneapolis, he texted me congratulations. I talk to him once a month.
I try to stay in touch with clients who want to stay in touch with me. I like to see them do well. And I hope that Kyle does.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Do you think he'll keep a low profile?
RICHARDS: I hope so.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What do you think the amount of time that the jury took says about how they handled it?
RICHARDS: I think they took it very seriously. As I said, it's the longest jury I have ever had out. Wow.
Can I go home?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Go home.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Anything else we haven't asked you?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE QUESTION)
RICHARDS: Probably. I'm not in charge of the media.
RICHARDS: I don't have anything to do with it.
CAMEROTA: OK, we have been listening there to Kyle Rittenhouse's defense attorney, Mark Richards, basically saying he's still processing everything that happens.
He just gave us a window into what his thinking was during the trial and during deliberations, which he described those 25-hour-plus as hell for him, and Kyle Rittenhouse and their team.
Let's bring back in our legal experts. We have Elie Honig, Alan Tuerkheimer and Eric Guster.
Elie, that was very interesting. He said that he had no choice but to put Kyle Rittenhouse on the witness stand. All of us debated beforehand will we see Kyle Rittenhouse on the witness stand. Obviously, it worked.
And do you agree that he had no choice but to do that?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Not as a matter of law but, yes, I think, as a matter of strategy, he had no choice. You have to put your client on the stand if you're claiming self-defense.
It was interesting to hear the defense say they had two mock juries. We can debate the value of mock juries. But he did much better from the defense standpoint, when they put their client on the stand.
Kyle Rittenhouse -- ultimately, on the stand, the prosecution did not do much to undermine him.
They pointed out some sort of minor inconsistencies and things he said on the night of, and said later, but nothing that undermines the core defense argument, which was he was attacked.
Every time he's shot, he was attacked, whether with a gun by Gaige Grosskreutz, a skateboard by Anthony Huber, hands and feet by Jumpkick Man, and Joseph Rosenbaum.
And that's a tough thing when you're talking about a self-defense claim.
CAMEROTA: Alan, I want to go to you because you know jurors. You're a jury consultant.
And we have a lot of information -- well, I have to say we have some information based upon a pool reporter of what the jury's response was through some of this.
And I'll just read it to you.
"They looked fatigued," the pool reporter says today, Friday afternoon. "Some of them looked fatigued in the jury box.