Kyle Rittenhouse takes a stand to defend himself in the murder trial

KENOSHA, WES (AFP) – Kyle Rittenhouse broke down in tears on the witness stand at Wednesday’s murder trial as he described how he was the first man to shoot and kill during a night of turbulent protests in Kenosha.

Rittenhouse, now 18, said he was walking toward a car source with a fire extinguisher to put out a fire when “I heard someone shout, ‘Burn in hell!'” And I answer with “Friendly, friendly, friendly!”

He said Joseph Rosenbaum was running toward him from one side and another protester with a gun in front of him, “and I got trapped.” He said this when he started running.

Rittenhouse began to cry, and called the judge for a break in testimony to allow him to regain his composure.

On a courtroom bench across the room, Wendy Rittenhouse, Rittenhouse’s mother, cried out loud as she watched her son seemingly unable to speak further. Someone sitting next to her put his arm around her.

During his testimony, he said that Rosenbaum had a chain at one point and twice threatened to kill him that night.

Rittenhouse apologized to the court for his language, and said Rosenbaum was walking down the street with his chain and shouted, “If I catch any of you (expletive) alone I’ll kill you (expletive)!”

Later that night, testifying, Rosenbaum said, “I’m going to cut your hearts out (expletive)! Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum also called them ‘n words.'” But he said he didn’t want to repeat the word in court.

Rittenhouse, who is accused of killing two men during a protest against racial injustice in the summer of 2020, responded in the negative when his lawyer asked him if he had come to Kenosha looking for trouble.

The young former police student was 17 when he went to Kenosha with an AR semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to protect property from disturbances sparked by an injured black man. A white Kenosha police officer.

Rittenhouse sounded composed at first, providing factual answers to defense attorney Mark Richards’ questions.

Rittenhouse testified that he had seen videos of violence in downtown Kenosha on August 24, 2020, the day before the shooting, including throwing a brick in the head of a police officer and burning cars at a car dealership.

Rittenhouse said the owner of Car Source “was glad we were there” and gave permission for the group to be there.

Rittenhouse’s decision to testify came even though several legal experts said the prosecution’s disappointing case made it unlikely he would need to do so.

Prosecutors used five and a half days of testimony to attempt to portray Rittenhouse as the assailant on the night of the shooting. But prosecution witnesses frequently corroborated the young man’s claim of self-defense, including his fear that his weapon would be taken off and used against him.

The jurors were dispatched from the chamber before Rittenhouse began to testify while the judge explained his right to remain silent and the potential dangers of testifying, Rittenhouse repeatedly answered that he understood.

When the jurors returned to the room, they were presented by Rittenhouse on the podium. When Rittenhouse began answering questions, some of the jurors seemed to take extensive notes on their plates.

Rittenhouse could be imprisoned for life if convicted of the most serious charge.

Rittenhouse shot and killed 36-year-old Rosenbaum at point blank range. Then, when members of the crowd killed him, Anthony Hooper, a 26-year-old protester seen in videotape hitting Rittenhouse with a skateboard, killed him.

Then Rittenhouse hit Gage Groskreutz, a 27-year-old protester and volunteer paramedic who admitted pointing his gun at Rittenhouse before shooting him.

While Rittenhouse is white, like those he shot, the case sparked controversy over vigilance and the right to bear arms and the unrest that erupted across the United States that summer over the killing of George Floyd and other police violence against blacks.

Bauer reported from Madison, Wisconsin; Foody from Chicago; Webber is from Fenton, Michigan. Contributed by Associated Press writer Michael Tarm by Kenosha.

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