Judge Dismisses Rittenhouse Gun Charge

Closing arguments begin in Kenosha trial
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 15, 2021 12:57 PM CST
Judge Dismisses Rittenhouse Gun Charge
Kyle Rittenhouse listens as the attorneys and the judge talk about jury instructions at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Monday, Nov. 15, 2021.   (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

Before closing arguments began in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse Monday, the judge dismissed the charge that had been seen as most likely to result in a conviction. Rittenhouse, who was 17 years old when he killed two men and wounded a third during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was on trial for a misdemeanor count of possession of a dangerous weapon by someone under 18, as well as five felonies. Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed the charge after the teen's defense team argued that RIttenhouse could be covered by an exemption in the Wisconsin law if the AR-15-style rifle he used wasn't short-barreled, NBC Chicago reports.

Prosecutors conceded that the rifle wasn't short-barreled. Schroeder said he believed the statute was poorly written. "I have big problems with this statute, I've made no bones about that from the beginning," the judge said, per the Hill. The charge carried a maximum sentence of nine months in jail and a $100,000 fine. Rittenhouse still faces the five felony charges, including two counts of homicide. Prosecutors have asked Schroeder to allow the jury to consider lesser charges if they acquit the 18-year-old on the more serious counts.

Rittenhouse's defense team has claimed he shot the men in self-defense. In his closing arguments Monday, prosecutor Thomas Binger argued that Rittenhouse, who traveled 30 miles to Kenosha from his home in Illinois, was not "protecting his home or his family" on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, and had failed to "exhaust all reasonable means of escape" before opening fire, CNN reports. The jury is expected to start deliberating Monday. Some 500 National Guard troops are on standby outside Kenosha. (More Kyle Rittenhouse stories.)

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