Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial: Hearings provided numerous remarkable moments as attorneys clashed live on TV

·4-min read

Teenager Kyle Rittenhouse has been acquitted of all charges after pleading self-defence over the killings of two people shot dead during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The fierce, televised clashes between the prosecution and defence attorneys continued until the very end of this hugely anticipated, widely followed murder trial.

Lasting just two weeks, the trial of Mr Rittenhouse provided observers with numerous remarkable moments as American justice played out live on cable news.

Jurors listened, waiting to deliver a verdict on whether Mr Rittenhouse was a responsible teenager trying to protect a community from a violent mob and acting in self-defence or whether he was an aggressive, reckless, inexperienced teenager looking for trouble.

There were numerous courtroom spectacles from both sides - some offered to inform their judgment while others came as random moments of courtroom theatre.

Early on in the trial, Mr Rittenhouse himself took the stand in his own defence.

For several hours, he took lawyers' questions and broke down on several occasions with uncontrollable tears.

This moment provided American cable news networks the opportunity to debate with behavioural experts over whether he was 'faking it' or not.

In another key spectacle, lead prosecutor Thomas Binger raised the same assault rifle Mr Rittenhouse had used to kill two people and wound another.

The prosecutor pointed the rifle around the courtroom in an attempt to replicate the defendant's actions. Conservative media commentators, like Hannity on Fox News, lambasted him for irresponsibly waving a weapon around.

The judge provided observers with his own moments of drama too.

Bruce Schroeder, 75, the longest serving state trial court judge in Wisconsin, clashed numerous times with prosecutors, at one point shouting: "Don't get brazen with me."

Mr Schroeder ruled at the start of the trial that the three people shot by the defendant shouldn't be called "victims" because it was a loaded term.

At one point in proceedings, the judge's phone rang, revealing his ringtone to be the patriotic American song "God Bless The USA" by Lee Greenwood.

The song also happens to be the theme song used at Donald Trump's political rallies, leading some liberal media outlets to speculate about the judge's political leanings.

At another point, Mr Schroeder declared "This is not a political trial" after the prosecution asked a witness, who had provided video evidence, if his video site was politically motivated.

In another widely-analysed moment, the judge made a joke about Asian food and the supply chain crisis.

"Let's hope for one o'clock. I don't know. I hope the Asian food isn't coming…isn't on one of those boats from Long Beach Harbour," Mr Schroeder said.

There was heated debate over an image the prosecution had wanted to use to prove the defendant had pointed his weapon at protesters.

The image had been enlarged by a state investigator but the defence argued that its enlargement rendered it untrustworthy.

A forensic imaging specialist who was called to give evidence acknowledged that enlarging an image requires the addition of pixels.

Yet prosecutors said the method is a widely accepted method of image enlargement.

In summing up the evidence, the prosecutor told jurors to "look for the truth... so many people look at this case and they see what they want to see".

Rittenhouse's defence team applied the same argument but to support their client's claim of innocence and in doing so, illustrated a common thread in the trial - the same moments, even with the support of video evidence, can be interpreted wholly differently.

"This case is not a game," Rittenhouse's defence attorney told the jurors. "Use your common sense and good judgement".

At the very end of the proceedings, it was Rittenhouse himself who chose the jurors who would decide his fate.

In order to select 12 from the 18 jurors who listened to the trial, the defendant reached into the brown lottery tumbler and, one at a time, pulled out 12 pieces of paper, each with a number of a juror.

He placed them neatly on the defence table in front of him and an official picked them up to show them to prosecutors.

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