By Kevin Zhang
Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old that shot and killed two people during violent protests last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been acquitted of all charges in a trial Thursday that divided the nation over the issues of gun rights, violence at protests, and vigilantism.
The verdict was delivered Friday and follows a heated trial in which prosecutors tried and failed to overcome Rittenhuse’s claim that his actions were in self-defense the night the shootings took place.
“He has a huge sense of relief for what the jury did to him today. He wishes none of this would have ever happened, but as he said when he testified, he did not start this,” Rittenhouse’s defense attorney Mark Richards said to reporters outside the courthouse. “To say that we’re relieved would be a gross misunderstatement.”
After two weeks of evidence and testimony, followed by a daylong turn on the stand by Rittenhouse, defense attorneys were successful in convincing the jury of 12 that the night of August 25, 2020 was a very perilous experience for the then 17-year old.
After around 27 hours of deliberation by the jury, they were able to pronounce Rittenhouse not guilty on all five counts. The jury was also requested to consider different alterations of several counts, but their opinion was not swayed.
In a statement, the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office said, “While we are disappointed with the verdict, it must be respected. We are grateful to the members of the jury for their diligent and thoughtful deliberations. We ask that members of our community continue to express their opinions and feelings about this verdict in a civil and peaceful manner.”
Prosecutors did not give further comments.
While the criminal trial has ended in acquittal, civil lawsuits are expected to follow.