Defense Closing Arguments in Rittenhouse Homicide Trial: ‘This Case Is Not a Game. It Is My Client’s Life’

Mark Richards, Kyle Rittenhouse’s lead attorney, gives his closing argument on Monday. Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News/ Pool

By Simran Chahal

KENOSHA, WI – The Kenosha County Superior Court heard closing arguments in the Rittenhouse homicide trial this week, where lead defense attorney Mark Richards insisted that one of the men killed by Kylie Rittenhouse—Joseph Rosenbaum—was not “citizen A” and his client “had to deal with him that night alone.”

On Aug. 25, 2020, Kylie Rittenhouse, facing multiple homicide felonies, shot three individuals in which two died and one was fatally injured. The case hangs on the fact of whether Rittenhouse’s use of self-dense was lawfully permitted in this matter.

The jury now has the case, and as of Thursday morning at 5 a.m. has not delivered a verdict.

Richards began his closing argument, “This case is not a game. It is my client’s life. We don’t play fast and loose with the facts, pretending that Mr. Rosenbaum was citizen A, number one guy. He was a bad man. He was there. He was causing trouble. He was a rioter and my client had to deal with him that night alone.”

Richards refuted that Rittenhouse caused the situation, telling the jury, “You’ll see Mr. Rosenbaum take off when he sees my client coming along with [Person 1*] to set up the ambush of my client. Provocation, I don’t think so.”

“The things that I’ve just pointed out to you, why is that a problem? Because one, [Binger, the prosecutor]’s lying. Two, he’s misrepresenting, or he wasn’t prepared when he started this trial and his closing argument has been a change to try and fit what has come out,” Richards continued.

Richards outlined, “I’m going to go through the charges and we’ll talk about each one of them. Then I’ll go through the witnesses and hopefully I’ll bring it home in an honest and forthright fashion.

“Count one. Reckless homicide. My client shot Joseph Rosenbaum…There was nothing reckless about my client’s conduct that day in regards to Mr. Rosenbaum. Mr. Rosenbaum was coming at him. My client ran from him, retreated…The plastic bag is thrown…It causes him to turn and look over his shoulder, pointing the gun in that direction,” argued Richards.

Richards further explained “Mr. Rosenbaum was shot because he was chasing my client and going to kill him, take his gun, and carry out the threats he made…And we know how close Mr. Rosenbaum was to my client. The furthest he could have been when it started, the first shot, four feet…we know that his hand was on the gun.”

Richards went into the details of how Mr. Rosenbaum came to the riots with a purpose.

Richards argued, “He (Binger) talks about Mr. Rosenbaum, just somehow ending up down at the riots. Remember that? Mr. Rosenbaum according to the testimony walked from the bus center, four miles out to [Person B’s*] house. And then he couldn’t stay there for some reason and four miles all the way back. That’s not just ending up. That’s going someplace with a purpose and…you saw his purpose.”

Richards stated how Rosenbaum “had been off his medications, according to [Person C*] for seven to 10 days. We know that he was acting like somebody who wasn’t on their proper medication. He was not acting normal.”

Richards moved on to discuss Count 2 which involved endangering a citizen journalist, to which he simply argued, “My client is not responsible for endangering him when he runs into danger. Plus, the instruction says that if he was privileged as to Rosenbaum, he’s privileged as to Count 2.

“Count 3, Jump Kick Man, the uncomplaining unidentified witness…The state has said, he’s not kicking him. He doesn’t hit him,” stated Richards.

Richards refuted as he expressed, “When you watch the video…Watch where his foot goes. Watch what happens to Kyle’s head. The force of him kicking him in the face spins his body 180° around. And then it’s on. Huber coming in from behind hitting him in the neck with the skateboard.

“The standard is likely to cause death or great bodily harm. Great bodily harm is defined as likely to cause serious bodily injury. A kick to the head is likely to cause a serious injury. Did my client suffer a debilitating injury as a result of that? No, but that’s not the standard,” Richards further explained.

The defense attorney moved on to discuss the use of the word “active shooter” to describe his client, noting, “He wants to call my client an active shooter. And the reason they want to do that is because of the loaded connotations of that word.

“The definition of an active shooter is somebody with a plan to inflict multiple casualties, usually out of anger or animus towards a group. This case, what caused Kyle Rittenhouse to shoot somebody?” Richards asked.

“My client ran two blocks without shooting at anyone, pointing at anyone, doing anything to try and get away. He tells the individuals he’s going to the police and he’s running in that direction when he’s stopped.” argued Richards.

“Kyle was not an active shooter. That is a buzzword that the state wants to lash onto because it excuses the actions of that mob. Whenever Kyle was there, he reacted to people attacking him…He does not shoot. He runs two blocks from 63rd to 61st, scene two, without firing his weapon,” maintains defense counsel Richards.

After going over the counts, Richards discussed that Witness 1*’s testimony stated “that he saw Kyle help the woman with the foot. Help the person with the hand. Mr. Binger wants to just say that doesn’t matter. If it wasn’t Kyle, it would’ve been somebody else. The point is he was there and he did it.”

Richards moved on to discuss Rittenhouse’s phone. “Low and behold, nothing of an incriminating nature in it, nothing militia, white supremacist, any of that.”

Detective Howard was another individual that testified and Richards stated he heard “Joseph Rosenbaum yelling, ‘I just got out of jail and I’m not afraid to go back.’…There’s pictures of him with the trailer fires, the chains, starting numerous dumpster fires…And he was emboldened by Person 1*, because Person 1* was always brandishing his firearm.”

Next, Richards moved on to discuss the contents of a Facebook post by Victim 1’s “best friend” that stated “I just talked to [Victim 1]…his only regret was not killing the kid and hesitating to pull the gun before emptying the entire mag. Coward.”

“Why does somebody post something like that? Because that’s what his friend told him. And he wanted to get Gaige Grosskreutz’s word out. He didn’t repost and say, ‘I lied.’ He took it down to try and hide it,” explained Richards.

Then, Richards went in depth about Kyle’s residency as stated, “Antioch, Illinois. I think most people here know where it is. It’s not a foreign country. Antioch, Illinois, right across the border. He worked in Kenosha. His dad lived in Kenosha…His best friend, Witness 1*, lived in downtown Kenosha. They want you to believe that there’s some sinister thing about that.”

A photo of Rittenhouse is displayed cleaning graffiti off a wall earlier that day, before the incident.

Richards explained, “When he came down here, are we to believe that he’s working to clean up graffiti, not getting paid, because he’s here to look for trouble? Is this all some master plan? That’s ridiculous. He came down here trying to help to see the damage, and that’s what he did.”

Richards proceeded to show some of the videos from that night.

In one video, Richards commented, “There was no threatening behavior that started this. Mr. Rosenbaum was hell bent on causing trouble that night, he did what he did. And he started this.

“My client does not have to take a beating from the hands of this mob or the hands of Mr. Rosenbaum. And Mr. Rosenbaum might be little, but he was a pretty muscular guy. And some 30-some-year-old guy can take a 17-year-old kid, nine times till Tuesday,” argued Richards.

“It’s a tough choice, but the evidence only leads to one conclusion. That is that Kyle Rittenhouse’s conduct on Aug. 25 was privileged based upon the actions of Mr. Rosenbaum and others. There are no winners in this case, but putting Kyle Rittenhouse down for something he was privileged to do will serve no legitimate purpose,” concluded Richards.

*Names have been excluded for purposes of confidentiality.

About The Author

Simran is a senior at UC Davis, majoring in Political Science. She is originally from Ceres, CA.

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