(KENOSHA COUNTY, Wis.) — In a trial that began with the judge playing Jeopardy with prospective jurors, Kyle Rittenhouse participated in a game-show-style process on Tuesday of randomly selecting the 12 jurors to decide his fate.
Just after 10 a.m., the 18 members of the Kenosha County, Wisconsin, Circuit Court panel who heard evidence in the nationally televised trial of the 18-year-old had their juror numbers written on pieces of paper and placed in a metal raffle drum, which a clerk spun with the crank of a handle.
Judge Bruce Schroeder then instructed Rittenhouse to draw six numbers from the tumbler in a process that is a standard practice in Wisconsin. The teenager, seated at the defense table and dressed in a blue suit, reached in and pulled out six numbers one at a time.
A clerk then read aloud the numbers of jurors No. 11, 58, 14, 45, 9 and 52 who will serve as alternates during the deliberations conducted by the remaining panelists.
The alternates were immediately instructed to follow a bailiff into a back room as Schroeder gave the rest of the jury final instructions.
“All right, members of the jury, it is for you to determine whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty of each of the offenses charged,” Schroeder said.
After telling the jurors to send notes through the bailiff if they need to communicate with him, Schroeder said, “All right folks, you can retire to consider your verdicts.”
Schroeder then asked the alternate jurors to return to the courtroom. Quoting Shakespeare, the judge said, “Parting, as they say, is such sweet sorrow.”
“You’ve been wonderful jurors, and we couldn’t have asked for a higher quality jury, better jurors, more attentive jurors, more prompt jurors,” Schroeder said to the alternates.
He explained that there have been “rare instances” in high-profile cases where alternate jurors have been restored to the jury deliberating after being dismissed.
“That is conceivable in this case. It’s not likely. In fact, it’s quite unlikely, but it’s possible,” Schroeder told the alternates.
He asked them to adhere to his order not to discuss the case with anyone and to continue to avoid media reports about the trial. He also asked them to stick around the court in case they are needed.
The trial initially began with 20 jurors, but one was removed for health concerns and another was dismissed after acknowledging in court that he told a tasteless joke to a deputy sheriff about Jacob Blake, the 29-year-old Black man paralyzed in a Kenosha police shooting that set off days of violent protests that led up to the shootings Rittenhouse claims he committed in self-defense.
Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two felony counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety.
If convicted on all felony charges, Rittenhouse faces a sentence of life in prison.
Prior to closing arguments on Monday, Schroeder instructed the jury that they will be allowed to consider lesser charges against Rittenhouse if the panel decides the prosecution failed to meet its burden to prove the original charges.
Schroeder also granted a defense motion to dismiss a charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 after the prosecution agreed that the rifle Rittenhouse used in the shooting did not meet the required standard of an illegal short-barreled rifle under the law.
The charges stem from the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and a shooting that left 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz wounded during an Aug. 25, 2020, protest in Kenosha.
During his testimony on Thursday, Rittenhouse said he shot all three men with an AR-15-style semi-automatic rifle in self-defense after they each attacked him.
“I didn’t intend to kill them. I intended to stop the people who were attacking me,” Rittenhouse repeatedly said, at one point breaking down and sobbing on the witness stand.
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