Jury Begins Deliberating at Kyle Rittenhouse Murder Trial

Jury Begins Deliberating at Kyle Rittenhouse Murder Trial Jury Begins Deliberating at Kyle Rittenhouse Murder Trial Kenosha County Sheriffs deputies watch as media and protesters gather in front of the county courthouse while the jury deliberates the case of Kyle Rittenhouse Tuesday in Kenosha, Wisconsin. (Nathan Howard/Getty Images)

MICHAEL TARM, AMY FORLITI and TAMMY WEBBER Tuesday, 16 November 2021 01:48 PM

The jury began deliberating Tuesday at the murder trial of Kyle Rittenhouse after listening to dueling portrayals of him as a “wannabe soldier” who went looking for the trouble, or a concerned citizen who came under attack while trying to protect property.

The case went to the anonymous, 12-member jury after Rittenhouse, in an unusual move, was allowed by Judge Bruce Schroeder to draw the numbered slips of paper from a raffle drum that determined which of the 18 people who sat in judgment during the trial would decide his fate and which ones would be dismissed as alternates.

That task is usually done by a courtroom clerk, not the defendant.

Rittenhouse, 18, faces life in prison if convicted as charged for using an AR-style semi-automatic rifle to kill two men and wound a third during a night of protests against racial injustice in Kenosha in the summer of 2020. The former police youth cadet is white, as were those he shot.

Rittenhouse testified he acted in self-defense after coming under attack, while prosecutors argued he instigated the bloodshed. The case has become a flashpoint in the U.S. debate over guns, protests, vigilantism and law and order.

The jury appeared to be overwhelmingly white. Prospective jurors were not asked to identify their race during the selection process, and the court did not provide a racial breakdown.

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who faced criticism over his response to the Kenosha protests in 2020, urged calm as the jury deliberated. He announced last week that 500 members of the National Guard would stand ready for duty in Kenosha if needed.

“Regardless of the outcome in this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and across our state,” Evers tweeted. He added: "I ask all those who choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights in every community to do so safely and peacefully.”

The judge told reporters he was inclined to let the jurors decide how late in the day to allow deliberations to go, and he suggested he would give the news media around an hour to get to court after the jury sends word it has reached a verdict.

Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28.