Rittenhouse jury may be permitted to mull lesser charges in teen’s murder trial

As deliberations are poised to begin in the Kyle Rittenhouse murder trial, the presiding judge is considering whether to permit the jury to consider a series of lesser included offenses in addition to the original charges brought by Wisconsin prosecutors, as Fox News reports.

The case stems from the conduct of Rittenhouse, then 17 years old, during 2020 protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in which the teen shot and killed two demonstrators and wounded a third – actions he argues were committed in self defense.

On Friday, Judge Bruce Schroeder heard arguments from the prosecution and defense teams as to whether jurors should be permitted to consider lesser included offense charges when they begin deliberation on Monday, something which could dramatically alter the potential punishment Rittenhouse might face in the event of a conviction.

As it stands currently, Rittenhouse faces a charge of first-degree reckless homicide and one of first-degree recklessly endangering safety in connection to the shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, a count of first-degree recklessly endangering safety in the case of an unknown man on the scene of the protests, a count of first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting of Anthony Huber, a charge of attempted first-degree intentional homicide in the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz, a weapons possession charge.

Prosecutors, however, are seeking to add lesser counts including second-degree attempted intentional homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment, and second-degree reckless endangerment, a fact which has been interpreted by court watchers to suggest a lack of confidence that they have made their case on the more serious charges.

According to former prosecutor Thomas Glasgow, the inclusion of lesser included charges such as those being sought by the state in the Rittenhouse case offers jurors the ability to still find guilt even if they cannot come to agreement on the primary charges lodged against a defendant.

“It allows them to look at something when they may not have had enough evidence to prove the murder,” Glasgow asserted, adding, “If the prosecutor ends up offering the lesser included, they have a weaker case and they are acknowledging that.”

Schroeder already indicated an unwillingness to approve some of the lesser included charges requested in the case and has indicated that his final decision as to what charges the jury will be allowed to consider would be communicated to the attorneys on both sides sometime on Saturday.

Closing arguments are set to commence on Monday, after which point 12 jurors’ names will be drawn from the current pool of 18 who have been hearing evidence and arguments in the case, and from there, Rittenhouse’s fate will be in their hands.