Posted on November 15, 2021

Rittenhouse on the Stand

Anastasia Katz, American Renaissance, November 15, 2021

Today there will be closing arguments in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial, but it is worth reviewing some of the most dramatic testimony in the case. Any claims of self defense as a justification for homicide turns on the mental state of the accused. Would a reasonable man, in his situation, have used potentially deadly force to ward off death or great bodily harm? Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyers therefore concluded that his testimony was crucial to establishing his innocence. It was a day for real courtroom drama, including a tongue-lashing from the judge and a call for a mistrial..

Before Mr. Rittenhouse took the stand, however there were some preliminary witnesses.

The day began with testimony from Jacob Marshall, a friend and former roommate of Gaige Grosskreutz, the man Mr. Rittenhouse shot in the biceps. Mr. Marshall visited Mr. Grosskreutz in the hospital in Milwaukee. “I was just trying to get answers for his mom, and his family,” he said, “I wasn’t sure if my friend was going to make it or not.”

He posted of photo of himself with Mr. Grosskreutz in the hospital on Facebook. In a note below the post, Mr. Marshall wrote, “So the kid shot Gaige as he drew his weapon and Gaige retreated with his gun in hand. I just talked to Gaige Grosskreutz too his only regret was not killing the kid and hesitating to pull the gun before emptying the entire mag into him. Coward.”

Mr. Marshall told the court that Mr. Grosskreutz never said that to him. “I lied. He never said that. Those words never came out of his mouth. . . 100 percent, made it all up.”

He told prosecutor Thomas Binger that lots of people on the internet were supporting Mr. Rittenhouse, and he was on the receiving end of negative comments. “I was in fear for my family, in fear for my friends,” Mr. Marshall said. His lie was meant to suggest the family would defend itself.

Corey Chrirafisi, Mr. Rittenhouse’s defense lawyer, asked, “The way to show support for your friend is to lie?”

Mr. Marshall admitted it had been bad judgement.

Next, Anmol “Sam” Khindri, one of the owners of the Car Source used-car dealership Mr. Rittenhouse was patrolling on the night of the shootings was called back to the stand. Mr. Chirafisi tried to clean up some information about how much money the Khindri family’s business lost because of the rioting. He referred to a previous line of questioning in which Mr. Khindri told the court he did not know how much money they lost: “My dad does the money part.”

At first, Mr. Khindri said that he still did not know the cost of damages, but after some prodding from Mr. Chirafisi, he said the loss was approximately $400,000.

The defense played video of an interview Mr. Khindri and his brother gave at their burned-out car lot. He said on camera that they lost 137 cars, and that the damage was $2.5 million.

When asked why he lied, he said, “It’s not a lie. . . . When we saw that from our eyes we were in shock.” He said the 2.5 million figure was a guess.

Kyle Rittenhouse, who is now 18, decided to testify, even though he has the right to remain silent. His mother watched from the gallery, biting her nails. Judge Schroeder spent a few minutes informing him of his rights, and asking questions such as whether he was feeling well. Before Mr. Rittenhose was sworn in, prosecutor Thomas Binger excused himself for two minutes. Perhaps he was trying to rattle Mr. Rittenhouse with the delay.

Mr. Rittenhouse’s lawyer, Mark Richards, started by asking Mr. Rittenhouse if he had come to Kenosha looking for trouble. Mr. Rittenhouse said, “No.”

Kyle Rittenhouse said he is a college student and is studying nursing. At the time of the riots, he was living in Antioch, Illinois with his mother and two sisters. His father, grandmother, aunt, and cousins all live in Kenosha. He is an avid swimmer and worked last summer as a lifeguard. He is a Police Explorer and Firefighter cadet; these are programs that prepare people to enter police, EMT and firefighter training programs, and he had some emergency medical training from these programs.

On August 24, he went to Dominick Black’s house. Mr. Black used to date his sister, and he and Mr. Rittenhouse are friends. They saw videos of the rioting that followed the Jacob Blake shooting. Mr. Rittenhouse remembered seeing video of the Car Source car lot on fire and a police officer being hit in the head with a brick. He mentioned in his testimony that he was familiar with Car Source. Although he was never a customer, he often drove by it.

On August 25, he went to Kenosha with his sister and Mr. Black. They spent a couple of hours cleaning graffiti from the wall of a high school. The graffiti included slurs against the police: “Fuck 12” and “Pigs.”

They went to Car Source and met Sam and Sal Khindri, the sons of the owner, who both work for the business. He offered condolences to Sam and exchanged phone numbers.

The next stop was Dominick Black’s stepfather’s house. This was where the AR-15 rifle that Mr. Black purchased for Mr. Rittenhouse was usually kept. At about 3:30 p.m., Nick Smith, a long-time acquaintance of the Khindris, called. He asked for a ride to Chicago because he wanted to buy a bulletproof vest. Nick Smith asked Mr. Rittenhouse and Mr. Black if they wanted to help out at Car Source, and they said yes. They picked him up, then went to a store to buy rifle slings. Mr. Rittenhouse said he wanted to have his hands free, so he could give first aid.

Instead of driving all the way to Chicago, Mr. Rittenhouse gave his own bulletproof vest to Mr. Smith, thinking he would not need it if he was just giving first aid. Mr. Richards asked, “Why does a 17-year-old kid have a bulletproof vest?” Mr. Rittenhouse said it was issued to him by the Great Lakes Police Department.

They went to Nick Smith’s house and walked to Car Source from there. The Khindri brothers and their father and uncle were there. Sam and Sal Khindri thanked Mr. Rittenhouse for coming to help. Sal Khindri drove Mr. Rittenhouse, Mr. Black, and Mr. Smith to Car Source lot 3. It was there that they took a group photo with other people who volunteered to help protect the business.

Mr. Rittenhouse testified that the Khindri brothers were happy he was there. He saw Sal Khindri give Nick Smith a set of keys. Sal showed them the hoses, in case there was a fire on the lot. He showed them the ladders Mr. Black would later use to get up on the roof. Mr. Khindri had said in his testimony that he never gave anyone keys, nor provided a ladder. His story on the stand was that he thought people got on the roof of the building by climbing on a truck with tires piled on it.

Mr. Rittenhouse said the Khindri brothers did not stay at their business. “I believe Nick [Smith] was in contact with them throughout the night. I’m not certain.”

The plan was for Mr. Rittenhouse to give first aid. He brought along an orange first-aid kit that he usually kept in his car trunk, and a first-aid fanny pack that he used at work. Mr. Rittenhouse said he stayed mostly in front of Car Source lot 2. When he left, he was with another man protecting the lot, Ryan Balch. He said he and Mr. Balch put out a fire in an alley next to a church. They saw the high school’s front doors on fire and started to go help, but someone else put it out before they got there.

Joseph Rosenbaum threated to kill him twice. The first time, Mr. Rittenhouse and Mr. Balch were asking if people needed medical help, and they came upon Mr. Rosenbaum. He was carrying a steel chain and wearing a dark red shirt. He said to Mr. Rittenhouse and Mr. Balch, “If I catch any of you fuckers alone, I’m going to fucking kill you!”

The second time he made threats, Mr. Rosenbaum was outside Car Source. He screamed, “I’m going to cut your fucking hearts out and kill you niggers!” (Mr. Rittenhouse said “the N-word” in court instead of using the expletive.) Mr. Rittenhouse said the threat was directed at himself and two others. Shortly after that, someone threw a chemical bomb, and Mr. Rittenhouse helped clean the irritant out of Ryan Balch’s eyes. The he gave first aid to a lady who twisted her ankle.

Mr. Rittenhouse saw Mr. Rosenbaum tip a trailer and a Porta Potty over. He thought Mr. Rosenbaum was trying to set the Porta Potty on fire. Mr. Rosenbaum was with his friend Joshua Ziminski. Mr. Rittenhouse did not know either of them.

Richie McGinniss, a videographer with the Daily Caller asked to interview Mr. Rittenhouse, who let Mr. McGinniss follow him and Ryan Balch around as they helped people. Mr. Rittenhouse told Mr. McGinniss during the interview that he was an EMT. He did not say that he “lied” to Mr. McGinniss about his qualifications, but he admitted he was not an EMT, though he did have first-aid training.

Mr. Rittenhouse became separated from Mr. Balch and went to Ultimate Gas, looking for him. When he couldn’t find him, he decided to go back to Car Source 2. Police prevented him from getting there, and there were people protecting the gas station, so he decided that was the safest place to be. Then Mr. Black telephoned him: “Kyle, I need you to get down to Car Source 3. The cars are being bashed in; they’re setting cars on fire. I need you to go put those fires out.”

Mr. Rittenhouse saw someone with a fire extinguisher, and he asked that person if he would come along to Car Source 3 and bring the extinguisher. The man did not go, but he gave the fire extinguisher to Mr. Rittenhouse. As he walked, he heard someone yell, “Burn in hell!”

Mr. Rittenhouse said he responded with, “Friendly! Friendly! Friendly!” to let that person know he was not a threat.

He was trying to get to the flames but was blocked by Mr. Ziminski, who had a gun. He dropped the fire extinguisher. “I look over my shoulder, and Mr. Rosenbaum, Mr. Rosenbaum was now running from my right side, um, and I was cornered in front of me with Mr. Ziminski and there were. . . .” Mr. Rittenhouse began to sob. “There were people, that’s what I . . . .”

He tried to continue his testimony, but he couldn’t speak. His sobs became heavier. His face turned red. His mother started sobbing too. Judge Schroeder announced a break.

Mr. Rittenhouse returned to the stand in a calmer state, and resumed testimony. “Once I got to that car, and I stepped forward to put that fire in the Duramax out, and Mr. Ziminski stepped towards me. I went to go run south, back south down Sheridan. And Mr. Rosenbaum was right there at the corner of the Duramax, starting to chase me. And that’s when I realized that the only place I can run with the people around me is straight towards the building of Car Source number three.”

“Mr. Ziminski instructed Mr. Rosenbaum to ‘get him and kill him,’ that’s what I heard,” Mr. Rittenhouse said.

As Mr. Rittenhouse ran away, Mr. Rosenbaum threw a clear plastic drawstring bag at him, but with the light reflecting on the bag, Mr. Rittenhouse thought it was the chain Rosenbaum had been carrying earlier. “I turn around for about a second while continuing to run and I point my gun at Mr. Rosenbaum.”

Rosenbaum did not stop. “He’s gaining speed on me, a gunshot is fired from behind me [by Mr. Ziminski], directly behind me. And I take a few steps and that’s when I turn around. And as I’m turning around, Mr. Rosenbaum is . . . coming at me, with his arms out in front of him. I remember his hand on the barrel of my gun.”

Mr. Richards asked, “Why didn’t you just keep running?”

“There were a hundred people surrounding those cars . . . There was no space for me to continue to run to.”

As Rosenbaum lunged at Mr. Rittenhouse, he fired his gun four times. The people around the cars moved away, so he ran around to see if he could help Mr. Rosenbaum. Then he noticed that the Daily Caller’s Mr. McGinniss was there. Mr. McGinniss took off his shirt to use it to stop the blood. “I was in shock,” Mr. Rittenhouse said.

He telephoned Dominick Black. “I told him, ‘I just shot somebody; I had to shoot him.’”

Josh Ziminski started screaming, “Get his ass! Get his ass! Get him! Get him! Get him!”

Mr. Rittenhouse thought the safest thing to do was get to the police and turn himself in. “A mob was chasing me. . . . I continued to run. People were saying, “Get him! Kill him! People were screaming, and I was just trying to get to the police down Sheridan road.”

Mr. Rittenhouse said he felt he would be safe with the police. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I was defending myself.”

Then Anthony Huber hit him in the head with a skateboard. “I remember . . . he’s holding a skateboard like a baseball bat, and he swings it down, and I block it with my arm, trying to prevent it from hitting me. And it hits me in the neck and as I block it, it goes flying off in the distance.”

He kept running towards the police. “I get light headed, I almost pass out, and I stumble and hit the ground.” Then he remembers a “concrete rock” hitting him in the back of the head. He was on the ground; people surrounded him. He moved his rifle in their direction, and they backed off, except for one person. He did nothing to the people who stopped. “The last person, I don’t know his name, I don’t think he was ever identified, jumps at me with his, he was wearing boots. . . . and as he’s running at me and jumping, his boot is making contact with my face. I fired two shots at him. . . . I thought if I were to be knocked out, he would have stomped my face in if I didn’t fire.”

As Mr. Rittenhouse tried to get up, Huber struck him in the neck with the skateboard a second time. “He grabs my gun. I can feel it pulling away from me, and I can feel the strap starting to come off my body. I fire one shot.” That shot hit Huber in the chest, killing him.

Gaige Grosskreuz put his hands up, and Rittenhouse lowered his weapon and looked down for a second. They were so close their feet were touching. When he looked up, Mr. Grosskreutz was lunging at him with a pistol pointed directly at his head. He told Mr. Richards that he did not rerack his weapon, as Mr. Grosskreutz had claimed on the witness stand.

After that, he saw another person, who held his hands up and backed off. The police line was ahead of him. He put his hands up. “I run and walk. . . . I can’t really hear anything. My vision is very narrow. I can only see directly in front of me; I see the flashing lights.”

He tried to move his rifle behind him so the cops wouldn’t think he was a threat. He went up to the police car and told the officer, “I just shot somebody! I just shot somebody!”

The cop said, “Get the fuck back or you’re going to get pepper sprayed. Go home! Go home! Go home!”

He went to Car Source 2. “I’m in shock. . . I was freaking out. My head was spinning.” He did not turn himself in at the Kenosha police department, because it was barricaded with a fence. Dominick Black drove him to his house in Antioch, where he told his mother and sisters what happened. His mother was crying in the courtroom as he said that she drove him to the Antioch police department.

The police had not been looking for him. He had to explain to the police what had happened. They had him wait; they did not handcuff him. Mr. Rittenhouse told the jury, “I was vomiting and having panic attacks and my head was spinning and I couldn’t think clearly at that point.”

Mr. Binger started his cross examination with, “Everyone you shot that night you intended to kill.”

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

“By killing them.”

“I did what I had to do to stop them from attacking me.”

“By killing them.”

“Two of them passed away, but I stopped the threat from attacking me.”

Mr. Rittenhouse agreed that he used deadly force, but Mr. Binger tried to get him to say that he knew the deadly force would kill them. He said he did not know it would kill them. Mr. Rittenhouse agreed that he “intentionally used deadly force” against Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber, and Gaige Grosskreutz.

Mr. Binger asked Mr. Rittenhouse if he had seen videos of what happened. He said he saw most of the videos there in the trial. When asked about internet accounts, he said he tries to avoid reading what people write about him on the internet. “The majority of it is not true.”

Mr. Binger kept saying that this was the first time Mr. Rittenhouse was telling his story. Mr. Richards objected, and the jury was sent out. Mr. Richards said to the judge, “He’s commenting on my client’s right to remain silent.”

Mr. Binger said, “I’m making the point that after hearing everything in the case, now he’s tailoring his story.”

Judge Schroeder agreed with the defense. “This is a grave Constitutional violation for you to talk about the defendant’s silence. You’re right on the borderline and you may be over, but it better stop . . . . This is not permitted.”

When jury came back, Mr. Binger asked Mr. Rittenhouse about his arrangement with Dominick Black to buy him a gun. Mr. Rittenhouse explained that Mr. Black paid for the gun and had use of it, and kept it in a gun safe at his place. He was to transfer ownership to Mr. Rittenhouse when he turned 18. “As a 17-year-old, you knew you could not have that gun,” Mr. Binger said.

“I knew I could not buy that gun,” Mr. Rittenhouse replied. He did not know that he could not use the gun.

The judge interrupted and said, “It was unlawful for him to purchase the gun.” The judge seemed to be agreeing with the prosecutor.

As an Illinois resident, Mr. Rittenhouse said he was eligible to get a Firearm Owner Identification Card at age 16, but he didn’t have one. He applied for the card in May 2020. It was denied because of the charges in this case.

Why did he want an AR-15? He said his original plan was to get a shotgun for trap shooting, but the store where they were gun-shopping had none in stock. His next choice would have been a pistol, but he could not legally own a pistol. When Mr. Rittenhouse went with Mr. Black to his shooting range he thought the AR-15 “looked cool.”

Mr. Binger tried to portray Mr. Rittenhouse as a kid who was living out a videogame. He asked Mr. Rittenhouse if he plays Call of Duty. He spoke in a patronizing tone. “Isn’t one of the things people try to do in these video games, is try to kill everyone else with your guns?”

“Yeah,” Mr. Rittenhouse answered, “In the video game. It’s just a video game. It’s not real life.”

Mr. Binger went into a line of questioning, listing each violent act that occurred at Car Source that night, asking Rittenhouse if he was allowed to use deadly force for each: to stop people from tipping over a Porta Potty, to stop them from lighting traffic cones on fire. Mr. Rittenhouse answered no to each question, and said that he used deadly force to protect himself, not property. “But yet,” Mr. Binger said, “You had previously indicated that you wished you had your AR-15 to protect someone’s property, correct?”

The judge sent the jury out.

Mr. Richards said that the prosecutor was trying to introduce evidence that the judge had disallowed. Mr. Binger was about to bring up a video of shoplifters, to which Mr. Rittenhouse had added commentary, saying that he wished his had his AR-15 so he could shoot them. The judge had ruled that the video would not be shown to the jury.

Mr. Binger said this was the subject of a motion, and “the court left the door open.”

Judge Schroeder shouted, “[The door was left open] for me! Not for you!. . . . I held it open with a bias toward denying it. Why would you think that that made it OK, for you, without any advance notice, to bring this before the jury?” He was very angry. “I was astonished when you began your examination by commenting on the defendant’s post-arrest silence! That’s basic law, it’s been basic law in this country for 40, 50 years. I have no idea why you would do something like that!”

Mr. Binger tried to explain that he filed the motion on this issue because in his mind, the defendant was using the rifle to protect property. Judge Schroeder blew up, “No, he wasn’t! I’m not going to rehash the motion. That is absolutely untrue!”

Mr. Binger argued that Mr. Rittenhouse made a verbal threat on the video about shooting shoplifters. “I am trying to impeach the defendant on his beliefs,” Mr. Binger explained.

Mr. Richards commented that before the jury was brought in that morning, the judge had said that there had been no new evidence to change any of his prior rulings.

“You know why it was excluded in the first place?” Judge Schroeder said, “Because it’s was propensity evidence . . . and by the way, Mr. Richards absolutely correctly points out that just hours ago, I said I’ve heard nothing in this trial to change any of my rulings.”

Binger interrupted, “That was before the defendant’s testimony, you Honor.”

“Don’t’ get brazen with me!” Judge Schroeder shouted. “You know very well that an attorney cannot go into these areas when a judge has already ruled, without asking, outside the presence of the jury, to do so. So, don’t give me that!”

The jury missed the fireworks in the courtroom, but Mr. Binger was deflated. He asked Mr. Rittenhouse if he knew there was a curfew. Mr. Rittenhouse said that he got an Emergency Alert text at 8pm, informing him, but he didn’t go home because none of the people around him were leaving.

Mr. Binger asked Mr. Rittenhouse about types of ammunition that he did not even have in his rifle that day, and explained the kind of damage these bullets do. Judge Schroeder told him to stop testifying.

When court resumed after lunch the defense made a motion for a mistrial with prejudice — which means the prosecutor would not be able to refile criminal charges and there would be no retrial. The reasons were prosecutorial overreaching and infringement on the constitutional right to remain silent. The defense team thought the prosecutor was trying to provoke a mistrial, to get another chance at this one, since the case was going well for the defense. They accused the prosecutor of acting in bad faith.

Mr. Binger said he was acting in good faith, but Judge Schroeder sternly said, “I don’t believe you.”

Mr. Binger then said that he wanted to show the jury the photo of Mr. Rittenhouse at a bar with the Proud Boys, wearing a shirt that says “Free as Fuck.” He said he would block their faces and not mention their affiliation.

Mr. Chirafisi thought it was too late for that. He told Judge Schroeder that he did not include questions about that photo during jury selection because the judge ruled the photo as inadmissible early on.

Mr. Binger told the court Mr. Rittenhouse was “on trial, in my opinion, for exquisitely poor decision making: using a gun that he’s not legally entitled to have, violating curfew, trying to be a police officer when he’s not, confronting protesters that he knows are hostile . . . .”

Judge Schroeder said that he didn’t want to waste time on something that happened after the date of the shooting. He upheld his previous ruling that the “Free as Fuck” photo would be left out.

Sometimes Mr. Binger’s questions flopped:

Binger: You decided you needed to run because of the fire on the Duramax?

Rittenhouse: Yes.

Binger: Why? What was so urgent?

Rittenhouse: It was a fire.

The prosecutor continued to suggest that Mr. Rittenhouse was a dangerous outsider:

Binger: Why did you feel that you should go around off the 59th street Car Source property and put out fires?

Rittenhouse: To make sure my community didn’t get burnt down and help.

Binger: When you say “your community,” you mean Kenosha?

Rittenhouse: Yes.

Binger: Again, you’re from Antioch, you’re not living in Kenosha at this time.

Rittenhouse: My dad lives in Kenosha.

Binger: Lots of people live in Kenosha, but you didn’t.

This was a silly observation:

Binger: You knew full well that anyone running around putting fires out like you, is going to cause a hostile reaction.

Did he think the jury will think ill of a man who put out fires?

Mr. Rittenhouse described a moment when the police gave him and Mr. Balch water and said they appreciated what they were doing. People were throwing rocks at the police. A rock hit an armored car, bounced off, and landed by Mr. Rittenhouse. He shouted “Friendly!” and the people stopped throwing rocks. Mr. Binger tried to get Mr. Rittenhouse to say that he shouted “Friendly” because he was walking into a group that was hostile to him. Mr. Rittenhouse said that they seemed hostile to the police.

Mr. Binger’s questioning sounded more reasonable when he asked Mr. Rittenhouse why he didn’t go home after the police had moved their line past Car Source, and the business appeared safe. Mr. Rittenhouse answered that he wanted to give first aid.

Mr. Binger played video that the jury had already seen, of Mr. Rittenhouse shooting Rosenbaum, making the point that the man was unarmed. I don’t think he chose the best video to create sympathy for Rosenbaum. Instead of using the graphic video that shows the lethal injury up close, he used the drone video that shows Mr. Rosenbaum chasing Mr. Rittenhouse across a car lot and cornering him. Slowing the chase down frame-by-frame did not help his case.

Toward the end of cross-examination, the prosecutor asked, “What was the risk to you of death or great bodily harm at the moment you killed Joseph Rosenbaum?”

Mr. Rittenhouse replied: “If I would have let Mr. Rosenbaum take my firearm from me, he would have used it, and killed me with it. . . . And probably would have killed more people.” Mr. Rittenhouse’s voice went shaky again, as if he was starting to cry. “I never wanted to shoot Mr. Rosenbaum. . . . He was chasing me; I was alone; he threatened to kill me earlier in that night. I didn’t want to have to shoot him.”

Before letting the jury go home, Judge Schroeder asked the lawyers some questions to determine how much longer the trial would last, and decided that the jury could be told it might be finished by Monday. There have been many comments on Twitter accusing Mr. Rittenhouse of fake crying, with no tears. To me, it looked l genuine. We’ll see what the jury thought. We will get an answer soon.