A defense attorney angrily accused the prosecution in Kyle rittenhouse s lie murder trial. The chief prosecutor adopted a measured tone, even as he raised the defendant’s rifle at one point and pointed it at the wall of a courtroom.
How the outrage and theatricality during Monday’s closing arguments played out with the jurors will not be clear until 12 of them return with verdicts in a case that underscores. American Divisions on weapons, protests and surveillance.
Here’s a look at how about five hours of closings went by and which side may have presented the strongest argument to the jurors:
WHO DO THE EXPERTS SAY THAT MADE A BETTER CLOSING ARGUMENT?
Most agreed going into trial that prosecutors would have to present a difficult case given Rittenhouse’s claim under state law that he shot three men and killed two in self-defense. That challenge continued into the closings, where prosecutors had to account for two weeks of evidence that largely showed Rittenhouse as the one being hunted when he opened fire.
“Great deeds make great lawyers,” he said. Steve Greenberg a Chicago-based attorney who has tried dozens of murder cases across the country. “I think the defense has better data here.”
He said evidence that the first Rittenhouse protester shot and killed, Joseph Rosenbaum He was under treatment for bipolar disorder and the depression helped bolster the defense arguments that Rosenbaum was an erratic presence who ambushed Rittenhouse and tried to take his gun away from him.
Prosecutors fared better, he said, with his frequently repeated argument that of all the people who turned up with guns in Kenosha only Rittenhouse shot someone.
Another Chicago-based defense attorney who has followed the trial closely, Joe Lopez, said he thought both sides missed the opportunity to tell compelling and memorable narratives to help jurors remember the evidence.
“The defense could have talked about Rittenhouse and his family and said, ‘Look at my client. … he came to Kenosha and he was willing to die for you, to protect you, ‘”Lopez said. Instead, he said, both sides frequently offered recitations of comparatively dry tests.
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM IN THE CENTER OF THE ARGUMENTS?
Neither Rittenhouse’s alleged bad judgment of showing up in Kenosha with an AR-style rifle, nor the broader issues of American gun culture, are supposed to be a focus of attention for jurors. They are supposed to make their judgment based on whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense under the letter of sometimes complex and counterintuitive Wisconsin law.
In short, the law requires that someone’s decision to react with deadly force be reasonable in the seconds and minutes that a conflict occurs.
HOW DID THE PROSECUTORS TRY TO MAKE THAT POINT IN THE CLOSURES?
Prosecutor Thomas Binger attacked the self-defense argument by arguing that Rittenhouse caused a conflict by showing up with his rifle. Binger recovered Rittenhouse’s rifle, kept for much of the trial in a white box behind the defense table, and demonstrated how he said Rittenhouse handled it recklessly and threateningly that night.
He repeatedly showed video of the jury’s drone that he said showed Rittenhouse pointing the gun at protesters, saying that was what led to a chain reaction of deadly events.
“This is a guy who came with special bullets and a gun, who came up to Kenosha with a gun to shoot someone,” Lopez said, summarizing what he called Binger’s closing lunge. “I think the prosecutor did indeed make that point.”
But Binger also hit jurors hard with images of the violence.
Without warning, he showed a close-up photo of the arm of Gaige Grosskreutz, the protester who survived a bullet from Rittenhouse. Some jurors grimaced and turned at the sight of a bloody tattered bicep.
That image and photos of Rosenbaum, lying on a gurney during his autopsy, are likely to stick with jurors during deliberations.
HOW IS THE DEFENSE MADE?
What may stay for the closing defense jurors was gruff lead attorney Mark Richards, who opened his argument by accusing Binger of lying to save a wavering case.
“Sir. Rosenbaum was shot because he was chasing my client and he was going to kill him, take his gun and carry out the threats he made,” Richards said. He added that Rittenhouse never pointed his gun before being chased: “It didn’t happen “.
Greenberg said he did not think the targeting prosecutor approach would work well with jurors.
“There were many attacks against the prosecutor by the defense,” he said. “People don’t like that. You either have the facts or you don’t.”
WHAT AUDIENCE DO LAWYERS PLAY?
Not the spectators in the courtroom, the spectators watching the closings on a live broadcast, or the journalists. His target audience was the members of the jury. Although they are anonymous by order of the judge, the prosecutors and the defense team would have been able to identify them and delve into their personal stories, and perhaps adapt their arguments to influence some.
Still, both Greenberg and Lopez said closures are rarely as decisive as people think.
“I don’t think a lot of cases are won in the closings,” Greenberg said. “The jurors go back to the jury room and talk about everything with each other.”
Find AP’s full coverage of the Rittenhouse test: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse