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Rittenhouse lawyers ask for a mistrial

Defence lawyers at Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial say they will ask the judge to declare a mistrial after prosecutors posed what appeared to be improper questions of Rittenhouse on the stand.

Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder did not immediately rule, saying he would give the prosecution a chance to respond.

At issue were questions prosecutors about Rittenhouse protecting property and about his silence after his arrest.

Rittenhouse had earlier taken the stand and said he was under attack when he shot three men during a night of turbulent protests in Kenosha.

“I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself,” he said.

The 18-year-old Rittenhouse sobbed so hard at one point that the judge declared a break.

But otherwise, he was composed on the stand, even as he was being cross-examined so aggressively that the judge berated the chief prosecutor with the jury out of the room.

Rittenhouse is on trial on charges of killing two men and wounding a third during unrest that erupted in the summer of 2020 over the wounding of a black man by a white Kenosha police officer.

He could get life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges against him.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, went to Kenosha with an AK-style semi-automatic weapon and a medic bag in what he said was an attempt to protect property from rioters who had set fires and ransacked businesses in the two preceding nights.

Rittenhouse said he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum after Rosenbaum chased him and put his hand on the barrel of Rittenhouse’s rifle.

Then Rittenhouse shot and killed Anthony Huber, testifying he opened fire after Huber struck him in the neck with a skateboard and grabbed his rifle.

When a third man, Gaige Grosskreutz, “lunges at me with his pistol pointed directly at my head,” Rittenhouse shot him, too, wounding him.

“I didn’t intend to kill them, I intended to stop the people who were attacking me,” Rittenhouse said.

During Rittenhouse’s testimony, Judge Bruce Schroeder lashed out at prosecutor Thomas Binger for questioning Rittenhouse about whether it was appropriate to use deadly force to protect property.

The judge heatedly accused Binger of improperly trying to introduce testimony that he had earlier said he was inclined to prohibit.

Rittenhouse lawyer Mark Richards suggested Binger might be attempting to provoke a mistrial with his line of questioning.

The case against Rittenhouse has divided the United States over whether he was a patriot taking a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante.

Much of the testimony on Wednesday was centred on the first shooting of the night, since it was Rosenbaum’s death that set in motion that bloodshed that followed.

Rittenhouse said he was walking toward a Car Source lot with a fire extinguisher to put out a fire when “I hear somebody scream, ‘Burn in hell!’ And I respond with ‘Friendly, friendly, friendly!”‘

He said Rosenbaum was running at him from one side and another protester with a gun in front of him, “and I was cornered”.

He said that’s when he began to run.

He said another protester, Joshua Ziminski, told Rosenbaum, “Get him and kill him”.

Rittenhouse said he heard a gunshot directly behind him, and as he turned around, Rosenbaum was coming at him with his arms out in front of him.

“I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun,” Rittenhouse said.

“I shoot him,” he recounted.

Rittenhouse said he thought the “safest option” was to turn himself in to police who were on nearby.

Asked by his lawyer why he didn’t keep running away from Rosenbaum, Rittenhouse said: “There was no space for me to continue to run to.”

Prosecutors used five and a half days of testimony to try to portray Rittenhouse as the aggressor on the night of the shootings.

But the prosecution’s witnesses often bolstered the young man’s claim of self-defence, including his fear that his weapon would be taken away and used against him.

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