Judge dismisses weapons charge in Kyle Rittenhouse trial ahead of closing arguments

Kyle Rittenhouse Trial Continues In Kenosha, Wi
KENOSHA, WISCONSIN - NOVEMBER 12: Kyle Rittenhouse, center, stands with his attorneys, from left, Mark Richards, Corey Chirafisi and Natalie Wisco before viewing video during proceedings at the Kenosha County Courthouse on November 12, 2021 in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse is accused of shooting three demonstrators, killing two of them, during a night of unrest that erupted in Kenosha after a police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back while being arrested in August 2020. Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, was 17 at the time of the shooting and armed with an assault rifle. He faces counts of felony homicide and felony attempted homicide. (Photo by Sean Krajacic-Pool/Getty Images)

(CNN) — Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a misdemeanor weapons charge against Kyle Rittenhouse on Monday prior to the start of closing arguments in his homicide trial.

The charge, possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18, was punishable by up to nine months in prison and a $10,000 fine. Rittenhouse now faces five felony charges and, if convicted on the most serious charge, could face a mandatory sentence of life in prison.

Closing arguments will be given for up to five hours Monday. Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder will issue jury instructions and then the jury of eight men and 10 women will be narrowed to 12 people by a drawing of names before deliberations begin.

The closing arguments will be delivered at the end of a two-week trial highlighted by emotional and illuminating testimony from Rittenhouse himself, who said he acted in self-defense when he killed two people and wounded another on the night of August 25, 2020, in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The prosecution rested its case last Tuesday and the defense then rested Friday.

RELATED: EXPLAINER: What charges does Kyle Rittenhouse face?

The debate over jury instructions will also include a decision on whether to allow the jury to consider lesser charges in the death of Anthony Huber.

In a conference Friday about jury instructions, the judge told Rittenhouse presenting lesser offenses to the jury lowers the possibility of a second trial but increases the risk of a conviction. Schroeder explained if the prosecution is not able to establish Rittenhouse’s guilt on the charged offense beyond a reasonable doubt, then the jury must acquit him.

Prosecutors requested the jury be given instruction on provocation, after arguing Rittenhouse provoked Joseph Rosenbaum by raising his gun and pointing it at somebody, which led to Rosenbaum to run after him. The judge agreed to allow the panel to consider whether Rittenhouse provoked Rosenbaum into attacking him — thus negating self-defense.

Ellie Honig, a CNN senior legal analyst and a former prosecutor, said the provocation instruction was an important win for the prosecution. Honig said

Kenosha Protest Shootings

Dr. John Black testifies as Kyle Rittenhouse watches during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Thursday, Nov. 11, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

the instruction allows prosecutors to argue “the defendant went too far, used deadly force when it wasn’t reasonably necessary” and he “provoked the attack, and hence cannot argue self-defense.”

 

Prosecutors also asked the judge to give the jury instructions to consider charges for second-degree recklessly endangering safety but the request was denied.

RELATED: As Rittenhouse trial winds down, jury set to deliberate

Kenosha braces for verdict

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers has 500 National Guard troops on standby outside of Kenosha, ahead of a possible verdict.

Dramatic scenes — like Rittenhouse crying on the stand and the judge admonishing the prosecution last week — have already occurred inside the courtroom. Evers is now preparing for scenes outside the courtroom.

“The Kenosha community has been strong, resilient, and has come together through incredibly difficult times these past two years, and that healing is still ongoing,” Evers said in a statement Friday. “I urge folks who are otherwise not from the area to please respect the community by reconsidering any plans to travel there and encourage those who might choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights to do so safely and peacefully.”

The verdict is being watched closely across a divided nation.

Some see Rittenhouse, 18, as an armed vigilante who should to go to prison, and others say he acted in self-defense while he was there to help provide first aid and protect people’s property.

Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz using an AR-15-type rifle during protests and demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25, 2020. The shooting took place during protests in the aftermath of a Kenosha police officer shooting Jacob Blake.

Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree reckless homicide while using a dangerous weapon in the death of Joseph Rosenbaum.

For endangering the safety of Richard McGinnis, Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree recklessly endangering safety while using a dangerous weapon.

For the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz, Rittenhouse is charged with attempted first-degree intentional homicide while using a dangerous weapon.

And for endangering the safety of an unknown man — known as “jump kick man” in court — Rittenhouse is charged with attempted first-degree recklessly endangering safety while using a dangerous weapon.

Kenosha Protest Shootings

Kyle Rittenhouse breaks down on the stand as he testifies about his encounter with the late Joseph Rosenbaum during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Lone survivor in shooting says he saw Rittenhouse as an ‘active shooter’

Rittenhouse took the stand in his own defense last week, providing emotional testimony in which he said he acted in self-defense when he fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum, who had thrown a plastic bag at him and chased him.

During cross-examination, Rittenhouse indicated he knew Rosenbaum was unarmed when he ran toward him, saying he pointed the gun at Rosenbaum to deter him. Rittenhouse noted he was aware pointing a rifle at someone is dangerous.

“He was chasing me, I was alone, he threatened to kill me earlier that night. I didn’t want to have to shoot him,” Rittenhouse testified. “I pointed it at him because he kept running at me, and I didn’t want him to chase me.”

Rittenhouse said he feared Rosenbaum — who did not touch him — would take his gun and kill people.

But Gaige Grosskreutz, the only one of the three men shot by Rittenhouse who survived, said on the stand he viewed Rittenhouse as an active shooter.

Grosskreutz, 27, told the court he first encountered Rittenhouse when “the defendant had been essentially offering medical aid” to people at the protest.

Later, Grosskreutz said he heard the gunshots and heard people yelling for a medic, so he ran in the direction of the shooting.

He stopped and turned around when moments later Rittenhouse passed him on the street, Grosskreutz said, adding as Rittenhouse passed him, he thought he heard him say, “I’m working with the police and didn’t do anything.”

Grosskreutz said after hearing people yelling that Rittenhouse had just shot someone, he soon believed Rittenhouse to be an active shooter.

“More people were pointing out the defendant, saying he had just shot somebody, that he’s trying to get away,” Grosskreutz said.

“Further inferencing from the things I had heard, experienced and witnessed earlier in the night, I thought the defendant was an active shooter,” Grosskreutz told the jurors.

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