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Rittenhouse takes the stand, says he 'didn't intend to kill them'

Kyle Rittenhouse
Posted at 7:57 AM, Nov 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-10 21:40:11-05

Kyle Rittenhouse waived his Fifth Amendment rights and testified in his own defense in the trial that will determine whether he's responsible for the deaths of two protesters he shot last year.

During his testimony, Rittenhouse told defense lawyers that he fired his gun in self-defense, leading to the deaths of Anthony M. Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum amid protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

Schroeder at one point halted the trial for a short break after Rittenhouse broke down and sobbed on the stand.

Defense attorney Mark Richards asked if Rittenhouse was "looking for trouble" when he arrived in Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020.

"No," Rittenhouse said.

Rittenhouse later testified that the first man he shot that evening had twice threatened to kill him. He later told defense lawyers that he only fired in self-defense.

"I didn't do anything wrong. I defended myself," Rittenhouse said.

He added that he suffered a "panic attack" in the moments following the shooting as he surrendered himself to the police.

Upon cross-examination from state lawyers, Rittenhouse admitted to using deadly force during the shootings. However, he claimed that his intent was not to kill but to stop those who were attacking him.

"I didn't intend to kill him; I wanted to stop the person who was attacking me and trying to steal my gun. ... I did what I had to do to," Rittenhouse said.

During questioning, Rittenhouse said a police officer told him to "go home" after he admitted to shooting someone.

"When I tried to turn myself in, I continue to walk and then I walk toward the window of the sedan, the police cruiser sedan. I don't know what they're called. And I tell the officer, 'I just shot somebody, I just shot somebody.' And the officer says, 'Get back or you're going to get pepper-sprayed, go home, go home, go home.'"

Rittenhouse says officer told him to go home after he admitted to shooting someone

State prosecutors then questioned Rittenhouse about his knowledge of gun laws. Rittenhouse said that he knew that because he was not 18, he could only legally possess but not own a firearm.

Prosecutors also showed a video of Rittenhouse firing his gun. They slowed the video down, trying to make the argument that one of the gunmen wasn't pointing the gun at Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse continued to contend that he felt that his life was in jeopardy.

"I pointed the gun at him so he would stop chasing me, that's why I pointed the gun at him," Rittenhouse said as he described the altercation between him and Rosenbaum.

Earlier in the day, defense lawyers for Kyle Rittenhouse said they would file a motion for a mistrial with prejudice, claiming that prosecutors took a line of questioning with Rittenhouse in an attempt to provoke a mistrial.

Should the judge later rule in favor of that motion, it would mean Rittenhouse would go free with no ability for the state to re-try him.

Defense lawyers said they would file the motion after Judge Bruce Schroeder twice admonished prosecutor Thomas Binger during cross-examination of Rittenhouse.

He first admonished Binger for asking about Rittenhouse's decision not to speak publicly after the shooting — something Schroeder said infringed on Rittenhouse's Fifth Amendment rights.

Later, Schroeder sent the jury out of the room after Binger asked Rittenhouse about a piece of evidence that had been ruled inadmissible.

While Binger believed that Rittenhouse's testimony had made that piece of evidence relevant to the trial, Schroeder disagreed.

"I don't want to have another issue as long as this case continues, is that clear?" the judge said, after several minutes of raising his voice at state lawyers.

In announcing their motion, Rittenhouse's lawyers claimed prosecutors were attempting to provoke a mistrial in an attempt to re-start proceedings. Schroeder said he would take the motion under consideration.

Rittenhouse faces five felony charges stemming from the shooting amid protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse, then 17, said he traveled to Kenosha to help business owners protect against looting.

Rittenhouse faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. He faces life in prison if convicted on one of the homicide counts against him.