As the Kyle Rittenhouse case reaches its conclusion, many are speculating about the outcome. Rittenhouse faces six criminal charges stemming from events that occurred the evening of August 25th, 2020, at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. The most serious of the charges are first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree attempted intentional homicide.
Rittenhouse has entered a not guilty plea on the basis of self-defense. Per AP News, in his testimony, he stated that “the first man cornered him and put his hand on the barrel of Rittenhouse’s rifle, the second man hit him with a skateboard, and the third man came at him with a gun of his own.”
According to an article from NPR, the prosecution may ask the jury to consider lesser charges. Lesser charges might be reckless instead of intentional homicide, or second-degree instead of first-degree. While these are technically lesser charges, they are still very serious and come with life-changing penalties.
As an attorney who has handled many self-defense cases, and has long devoted a portion of my practice to matters involving gun safety and gun rights, my thoughts on the situation are as follows:
What matters is whether the defendant had the requisite state of mind to make his use of deadly force justifiable. In Michigan, the question is whether he had an honest and reasonable belief that the use of deadly force was immediately necessary to stop the threat of death or serious physical injury to himself or a third person. The jury will decide after hearing the evidence. Based on my knowledge of the case thus far, I think it will be an acquittal.