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Jury Finds Kyle Rittenhouse Not Guilty. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired November 19, 2021 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: And I will just read it to you.
"They looked fatigued," the pool reporter says today, Friday afternoon. "Some of them looked fatigued in the jury box. Some of them looked uneasy. Some of them had their hands on their chins. They were rubbing their eyes. Others appeared ill at ease, shifting in their chairs, folding their arms across their chests."
Given that and given that it was 25-plus hours of deliberation, what do you -- what can you divine about what we know about the jury's thought process?
ALAN TUERKHEIMER, JURY CONSULTANT: Right, even though -- it was on the five counts, it was not guilty, I think leading up to it was a much harder, arduous process.
And it's also telling that they didn't come to the judge. They didn't say, hey, we're stuck. Hey, we need help. They really went right into these questions and the law.
Now, a lot of juries start off, and they have an idea, they have a predetermined outcome in their mind how they want the result to be and then they work backwards and back into a verdict.
I don't think that happened here at all. I think that the jury came in. Maybe they had some leans one way (AUDIO GAP) and then they went at it. They argued with each other. And they certainly very meticulously looked at the law and went over the verdict form and tried really hard to get it right.
And as has been said, the prosecution had a really tough burden in this case. There might be some jurors on the jury who felt that Kyle Rittenhouse may be engaged in some wrongdoing, he shouldn't have been there. But they looked at the letter of the law and felt ultimately the prosecution (AUDIO GAP) hold them to their burden -- they didn't show -- have their burden of proof on the case.
CAMEROTA: Eric, you have been so patient. I need you to just stand by a little longer.
We want to reset for all of our viewers who are just joining us. It is a little past the top of the hour.
I'm Alisyn Camerota. We're following the breaking news out of Kenosha, Wisconsin. A jury has acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all counts, Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old when he fatally shot two men and wounded a third with an AR-style rifle that he brought to a racial justice protest in August of 2020.
You saw there him reacting to hearing the not guilty verdicts. He collapsed down under the desk and then had to sit down. He did take the stand during this trial. He sobbed. He explained why he thought he was acting in self-defense.
And then you see his emotional reaction when the verdict is read.
(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: Rittenhouse's lead attorney just spoke, explaining his client's reaction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK RICHARDS, ATTORNEY FOR KYLE RITTENHOUSE: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: We have a team of reporters on the ground in Kenosha.
And we want to go out to Shimon Prokupecz, who has been watching this case every day.
Shimon, the response.
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, right.
So, I -- we're just getting in some new information, Alisyn, I want to tell you off the top from the prosecutor in this case, Mark Binger. As you know, as you heard Mark Richards there say, during the trial, these two guys really fought against each other. There were personal attacks, Mark Richards, the defense attorney, lobbing many of those personal attacks during the closing argument, saying that how prosecutors rushed this case, that it was political, that they wanted to bring this case for political reasons.
The prosecutor just now issuing a statement, saying that they are disappointed with the verdict, but that it must be respected. They say that they are "grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations. The Kenosha community has endured much over the past 15 months. And yet we remain resilient and strong. We ask that members of our community continue to express their opinions and feelings about this verdict in a civil and peaceful manner."
And so there you go. You have another official you're obviously urging peace and calm.
And, so far, that's exactly what we're seeing out here. But these two lawyers, the defense attorney, Mark Richards, also, we should say, another of Kyle Rittenhouse's attorneys, Corey Chirafisi, who did one of the probably most important cross-examinations at this trial was against one of the shooting victims, Grosskreutz, Gaige Grosskreutz, when he got him to admit that he pointed a gun at Kyle Rittenhouse, and then Rittenhouse opened fire.
That was a key part of this case. But these two lawyers, all of them really, the prosecutors and defense, they really went at it for much of the case, especially during the closing arguments. And you heard Mark Richards there when he was talking, the defense attorney, saying how this case for the prosecutors he felt was about winning.
He was very angry about how they proceeded in this case. He said this was not about truth. And so that's how he feels, that certainly that they should not have brought this case. And they made it very clear during the case when they were really just attacking the prosecution personally.
But here we have the prosecutor responding, saying that they respect the verdict and that they urge people to be peaceful and calm.
CAMEROTA: Yes, Shimon, I think that that is so important. I mean, that's losing with grace. They say, we're disappointed, but we respect -- the verdict must be respected and we thank the jurors.
I mean, that -- they could say different things, but they're clearly going towards bringing down the temperature outside of the courthouse and asking people to remain peaceful. And I just think that, today, that's rare and valuable.
PROKUPECZ: No, it certainly is.
And, look, the temperature here, there was a lot of concern over what might happen if there was -- either way, whichever way the verdict may go. One day, we were out here, there was a person who was walking around with an AR-15-style rifle. The police defused it. The deputy sheriffs are the ones that are manning the security here at the courthouse.
They defused the situation. They told the man you can't have your gun here. You're within 1,000 feet of a school. So you have to leave. And every day, outside the courthouse, different groups would gather. It was peaceful, small incidents.
But for the most part, people got an opportunity to voice their opinions. It was remarkable to watch how close the security officials here would allow people to get onto the steps of the courthouse. They allowed anyone in who wanted to come in, but certainly they allowed people to stay on the stairs, voice their opinions, say whatever they want to say.
Really, all the action that was happening here was inside the courtroom, right? I mean, you had a real battle between these attorneys, who really fought for Kyle Rittenhouse, of course, the prosecutors fighting for their case.
And when you look at this case, the problems that there were with the prosecution's witnesses, for us who covered the story, who were here, we didn't really get an inside look into this case until many of these witnesses took the stand. And day by day, as you started seeing some of these witnesses, hearing their testimony, you started seeing the holes and the issues that the prosecutors had with their case.
And the defense seized on every, every opportunity they could. And then here they have -- they have victory. They have their win. And certainly the jurors who listened to Kyle Rittenhouse's testimony -- there was a pool report, one of the reporters who was watching this during the testimony of Kyle Rittenhouse, where they felt that the jury was sympathetic to Kyle Rittenhouse.
So, a key moment also when he testified -- that was an important moment, and probably something that the defense attorneys obviously are very happy that they did.
CAMEROTA: Yes. Shimon, thank you for all that really important context.
Let's go to Sara Sidner, who is standing by. She's also on the ground there in Kenosha.
So, Sara, give us the reaction now. And, also, just tell us what happened in the courthouse when all of those not guilties were heard.
SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I think when we first heard the first not guilty in the case, you could hear Kyle Rittenhouse's mother gasp audibly.
And then as each of them, all five at the very end, when all five were read out, Kyle Rittenhouse himself realized that he was a free man and he sort of collapsed onto the table, his attorney, one of his attorneys helping him up, helping him to regain his composure.
But it was a very emotional time, not just for the Rittenhouses, but also for those whose family members were shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse or injured by Kyle Rittenhouse.
And as you sat in the courtroom, everyone -- it was very quiet. The jury seemed a little fatigued, and as they listened to this being read out. In this particular courtroom, it was the clerk that read out each and every verdict one by one, not the foreperson or the judge that happens in some other states.
And so it was up to the clerk to make sure that she got all the details right. And she did. The jury did their service. The Judge has been very thankful for the jury and repeatedly said that he thinks that often courts do not treat juries well, and that they should be treated better.
This jury did its job, the judge said. And everyone stood up as the jury came in and stood up as the jury left. And then the families started coming out. And those -- Anthony Huber's aunt has been in court this whole time throughout this trial and one of his other family members.
His parents, however, have not. Now, Anthony Huber, I will remind you, is the second person who was shot and killed that night on August 25 by Kyle Rittenhouse. And his parents said that they were not able to attend because they simply could not sit there and watch the video of their son being killed over and over again.
They also sent out a statement saying this, that they are heartbroken and angry that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in his criminal trial for what they call the murder of their son, Anthony Huber. And they said there was no justice for Anthony or for Mr. Rittenhouse's other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz.
Now, to be clear, the jury has decided that he did not commit murder, Kyle Rittenhouse, that he indeed was acting in self-defense, which is what the defense had presented to them. The prosecution obviously fighting against that.
We expect to hear from some more of these families. We expect to hear from the -- at least the attorney potentially for Gaige Grosskreutz, who was severely injured in this and who did take the stand, his testimony paramount in this case, as well as all of the video that this jury had and could watch as many times as it wanted.
There was a lot of consternation, if you will, by the defense in letting this jury watch the video as many times, saying you have to be careful putting so much onus on one piece of evidence, but the judge being very clear that that may apply to witness statements, but that should not apply to video that shows the action that they are deciding, that shows the very moments of these killings.
And so the jury did so. They did take a look at the video again. And their decision was that he was not guilty on all five counts. And that decision is final. The prosecution coming out and being very clear that, while they are disappointed with the jury's decision, they respect it.
And, of course, the defense is saying this is a good day for them. This is a day they had hoped for, that they were tortured as they waited for this. This is the longest time that the attorney Mark Richards, the defense -- one of the defense attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse, had waited for a jury verdict, and he didn't know what to think, but that it was very difficult during that wait.
They are, of course, relieved now and they are talking about all the fund-raising that had come in for Kyle Rittenhouse for his defense and what will happen with that money in the end, which is being discussed. But this was a day of relief, if you will, for the defense and a day of sorrow for those who lost family members in the shootings in August because of Kyle Rittenhouse holding that AR-15-style rifle.
But, again, the jury decided he did so, he did -- he killed people and injured people in self-defense that day -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: Sara, stand by, if you would, for us.
We want to go now to Adrienne Broaddus. She's outside the courthouse, where we have seen tensions running very high.
What's the mood now?
ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's calm at this hour, Alisyn.
And the jury deliberated for more than 24 hours over the course of four days. But outside, on the steps of the courthouse, we have seen deliberations between people supporting Kyle Rittenhouse and those who believe Kyle Rittenhouse should have been found guilty on all charges.
And those deliberations continue. To the left of us, there's a group of people gathering. They have been going back and forth talking about why they don't agree with the verdict the jury handed down. Earlier, on these steps, we spoke with the uncle of Jacob Blake, Justin.
Now, you can't say the name Kyle Rittenhouse without bringing up Jacob Blake. That's the reason we are here. If you remember that night in August, the people were protesting against what they called police brutality because Jacob Blake had been shot by police and that shooting left him paralyzed.
His brother Justin said his -- or nephew -- excuse me -- his nephew is still fighting to walk again. When I spoke with Blake's uncle on the steps, he told me he's disappointed. He said he was not surprised. And he talked about the history of the city of Kenosha. And he spoke about that day in January when we were here and it was cold and they were protesting then after the officer who shot his nephew whom he calls little Jake was cleared of all wrongdoing.
I can't help but to think about the past two weeks here in Kenosha. Earlier this week, while the jury was deliberating, people were out here and the sun set. It was beautiful.
But that sunset was a stark contrast to some of the different beliefs we have seen out here. Some folks are passionate. A short time ago, maybe 20, about 30 minutes ago, there was a medical situation. A woman walked up to the steps. She was upset with the jury's verdict. Soon after, she collapsed.
Sheriff's deputies rushed in. They surrounded her, created a perimeter to keep the public away from her. I'm no doctor, so I can't say what happened. But as she was laying at the foot of the steps, I did hear her say: "I can't breathe. I can't breathe."
She was transported, we believe, to a nearby hospital. So people are on one hand feeling relief. Others are disappointed in the outcome of today. And it's unclear if today's outcome led to that medical situation.
But Jacob Blake's uncle told this group to leave, go home. He said there is still work that needs to be done. And the work is not going to happen here on bullhorns shouting and yelling at each other. He's talking about the work that needs to be done with the justice system in his eyes, even pointing to the case in Georgia, where three white men are on trial for the killing of Ahmaud Arbery -- Alisyn.
Yes, I mean, I think that the message that everyone who is disappointed today has been saying is this needs to be peaceful, and we will all fight another day in the right, most peaceful way. And we have heard that echoed by even the prosecutors, who feel that they lost today.
Thank you very much, Adrienne, for all of that. Thank you to Sara and Shimon.
Stick around. We are continuing to follow the breaking news, Kyle Rittenhouse found not guilty on all five counts. And our legal experts are going to weigh in on the most important moments in this trial that led to the acquittal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction to the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict?
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I just heard a moment ago.
QUESTION: Do you have any reaction?
BIDEN: I didn't watch the trial, so I...
QUESTION: Do you stand by your past comments (OFF-MIKE)
BIDEN: Look, I stand by what the jury has concluded. The jury system works, and we have to abide by it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CAMEROTA: That was President Biden weighing in just moments ago.
He says the jury system works. This is in response to the breaking news out of Kenosha, Wisconsin. Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all five counts. He faced a life sentence, possibly, but, today, he walks free.
Let's bring in our legal panel.
Eric Guster is a criminal and civil trial attorney. Mark O'Mara is a criminal defense attorney. Paul Bucher is a former district attorney in Wisconsin. And Elie Honig is a former federal prosecutor.
Gentlemen, thanks so much for being here.
Eric, you have been so patient. I appreciate you being here. I know you have listened in on all of the developments since these verdicts were read. Your thoughts.
ERIC GUSTER, CRIMINAL AND CIVIL TRIAL ATTORNEY: The defense attorney really had a very interesting press conference after the case.
As defense attorneys, we have to deal with the facts of the case, despite what the media may be reporting, what the streets may say or what the neighbors may say. And the prosecution had a very tough case in this particular one.
When a person raises a self-defense claim, the prosecution has to prove that it's not self-defense. And when Rittenhouse and the video -- when Rittenhouse testified, and the video was shown, it made it extremely tough on them, especially when the witness who actually said he pointed a gun to Rittenhouse, and that's when Rittenhouse started reacting.
It made it very, very difficult. And another thing to point out that was really interesting to me in reference to the defense, this was a very well-funded defense. They had to mock juries. They had jury consultants. They had enough money to really work hard to build Rittenhouse's case and his defense, unlike so many other people in the United States.
But it does weigh heavy for some people who think of a guy going to a protest with an AR-15. He's possibly going out there to cause trouble. And then he uses a self-defense case. So a lot of people don't feel solid about it and don't feel good about it. But, unfortunately, that's the way the law works in this one. CAMEROTA: It's legal. I mean, that's what the jury decided. And that's what the law in Wisconsin says.
So, on the flip side, Elie, assess for us the prosecution's performance.
ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Alisyn, I think there are fair criticisms of the prosecutor here.
First of all, they had a very difficult factual scenario here, the reasons Eric just laid out and we have been talking about throughout the hour. That said, they had several missteps, strategic and legal.
CAMEROTA: Like what?
HONIG: The defense lawyer highlighted some of them.
For example, they oversold their case. I think trying to brand renounce as an active shooter did not stand up. And the defense came back and showed here he is walking through the streets. He's not shooting indiscriminately. That's what an active shooter does. He's only shooting people who have attacked him first.
They made legal mistakes. They got yelled at by the judge. Look, the judge was overboard, but the prosecution was wrong. They made comments that implicated Kyle Rittenhouse's right to silence, his Fifth Amendment right to silent. That's what set the judge off. I think he got overly angry, but that was a mistake.
The prosecution talked about evidence in front of the jury that the judge had said, that's inadmissible. That is an absolute amateur move by the prosecutors.
All that said, I have to say this. The statement that the prosecution issued just a few moments ago, saying, we respect the process, we respect the verdict, that's the right thing to say. They get credit for saying that. They're right.
CAMEROTA: Mark, your thoughts?
MARK O'MARA, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I thought that they had a very difficult case to begin with, there's no question, because we know self-defense laws are very strong.
And whenever anyone is attacking you, whether it's lunging at you or advancing on you, then that is going to lead you or put you in a position where you can defend yourself.
And, in this case, on all of the shootings, it really became a question of, who's going to get the gun? Even though it was in Kyle's hands, once you put that in play, it's very difficult. And I will tell you the worst part about the state's case was their first witness, I think, the one witness who came up there, where the state's strong case -- and he was the one, the "Daily Caller" reporter, who was talking about the eventual decedent approaching and advancing on Rittenhouse and lunging towards the gun.
If you're the state, and that's one of your first out-of-the-box witnesses, you have a long road to hoe. And, obviously, they couldn't convince that jury it was not self-defense.
CAMEROTA: Paul, you're a former DA. Is there anything that the DA could have done differently for a different outcome? Would you have done anything differently?
PAUL BUCHER, FORMER WISCONSIN DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I would have done things differently.
I -- look, my sympathies go out to the families of the victims. I'm going to call them victims, But Judge Schroeder's ruling that you don't call them victims is standard operating procedure.
I don't think he was inappropriate at any time reading down the prosecution. I have had my -- burned off in front of a judge when I made a mistake. And commenting certainly on the defendant's right to silence big error, but doesn't make any difference today.
I think he overcharged the case, to be honest with you. They overtried it. They overcharged it. Had I been the DA at this case -- and, remember, they're charging off of paper. They're not charging off of live testimony. But I want have charged three counts.
This is a straight-up homicide case, two counts of first-degree, one count of attempted first-degree, recognizing you're in for the fight of your life on self-defense.
I credit to jury for standing firm. And I think all of us under-read -- I did -- how smart this jury was and how focused they were on the jury instruction. Complicated case. The verdict is the verdict. The government has to accept it. I have lost major cases, and just have to admit that the jury works, and thank you very much, and move on.
But Kyle Rittenhouse is not a hero. He's not a vigilante. And this is not about white supremacy. And anybody that looks at this case walks away and says this is a signal that I can go to these mass protests armed, they are in for a huge surprise.
CAMEROTA: Eric, it was interesting to hear from the -- from Kyle Rittenhouse's defense attorney, Mark Richards, saying that he found the 25 hours of jury deliberations -- his word was hell. He said it was the longest he's ever waited for a jury verdict.
And I think, does that tell you that this wasn't a slam dunk for the jury, that they really were having to not duke it out in there, but go kind of meticulously through everything?
GUSTER: Yes, Alisyn.
Any time you have a jury considering a case, even if you think you have a slam dunk, you're nervous. If you're not nervous, then you don't need to be a lawyer, because people will go in the jury room and they will bring in their thoughts, their beliefs, and, sometimes, they will sway other people.
And when you having a criminal defense client, unlike the civil side, you're dealing with someone's life, where they may have to spend the rest of their life in prison. So, you're very, very nervous about what they're talking about, what they're doing.
And every single day they go home, that's another night that you have to -- you have restless sleep. That's another night you're thinking, oh, my gosh, what are they going to do? And is my client going to go home?
And any time you have one that they deliberate 25 hours, that's the equivalent of a whole day, that's a lot of deliberation. And I'm sure they were nervous and had butterflies all the way through the process.
CAMEROTA: Let's go back now to CNN's Sara Sidner. She's on the ground for us. And she's getting more reaction from people involved in this case.
Sara, what are you learning?
SIDNER: Alisyn, we just got a statement sent to me by Kim Motley. She is the attorney for Gaige Grosskreutz.
And reminding you who Mr. Grosskreutz is, he was the sole person who was shot by Kyle Rittenhouse on August 25 that did not die. He had his bicep basically blew off by the rounds shot at him from Kyle. He also took the stand in the case and was an important witness.
His attorney said today that -- and I'm going to read this here, because I have just received it: "Today, we grieve for the families of those slain by Kyle Rittenhouse. Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum did not deserve to die that night.