Rittenhouse acquittal no sure thing, analysts say

On Balance with Leland Vittert

(NewsNation Now) — After a week in court that included the judge yelling at the prosecutor multiple times and the sole survivor of the shooting in question taking the stand and seemingly strengthening the defense’s case, some have started to write off the Kyle Rittenhouse trial as over.

“The defense has to establish that at the time that Kyle Rittenhouse fired the shots that he was in fear of imminent death or great bodily harm,” Wisconsin attorney Julius Kim said NewsNation’s “On Balance with Leland Vittert” on Thursday. “And I think they’ve established that aspect of their case.”

However, not every experienced attorney is ready to say it’s a sure thing.

“Juries are unpredictable,” New York defense attorney Jonna Spilbor said on the same show. “And juries run the facts in a trial through their own filters, and sometimes juries don’t care much about what the dry jury instructions say.”

Rittenhouse, now 18, is on trial on charges of killing two men and wounding another. The one-time police youth cadet from Antioch, Illinois, had gone to Kenosha with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle and a medical kit in what he said was an effort to safeguard property from the violent demonstrations that broke out over the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white Kenosha police officer.

But Gaige Grosskreutz, the only victim to survive, may have hurt the prosecution’s case in the courtroom and outside of it. On Tuesday, Grosskreutz took the stand and told Rittenhouse defense attorney Corey Chirafisi that he was not shot until he raised his own weapon at Rittenhouse.

Grosskreutz, under follow-up questioning from the prosecutor, said he did not intend to point his weapon at Rittenhouse.

However, on Thursday, he told ABC’s “Good Morning America” that he didn’t mean what he said in court.

“I do believe that in that photo, given the right narrative, one could suggest that yes, I was pointing my weapon at the defendant,” Grosskreutz said. “But when you play it as a movie, or look at different stills, my arm was being vaporized. As I was allegedly pointing my weapon at the defendant. It’s completely inconsistent with the physiology of my wound that he would have shot me while my weapon was pointed at his head.”

NewsNation’s Ashleigh Banfield believes he may get another chance on the stand.

“I believe in the rebuttal case, they will likely recall that witness and and say, ‘let’s clear the air here,”” she said on “On Balance.”

The discussions came a day after Rittenhouse broke down as he took the stand in his own defense Wednesday.

Another wrinkle in the case is the judge, Bruce Schroeder. He has scolded the prosecution for attempting to bring up inadmissible evidence, though prosecutors argued Thursday he did not do the same to the defense when they skirted the rules. The defense asked for a mistrial over the issue.

Banfield believes it’s a factor for juries: “I have seen cases wither based on judges’ behavior,” she said. “The position on the bench is revered.”

She and Kim agree Schroeder’s behavior is unusual, but not unheard of.

“If you spend enough time in courtrooms, you’re going to see situations like that,” Kim said. “I think that what happened yesterday was really the culmination of a long trial, people getting cranky, people being stressed.”

The case could be in the jury’s hands by Monday.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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