Prosecution Closing Arguments in Rittenhouse Homicide Trial: ‘You Cannot Claim Self-Defense Against a Danger You Create’

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 Monday where the lead prosecutor, Thomas Binger, stated Rittenhouse’s provocation in the shootings does not give him the right to self-defense.

Rittenhouse is charged with homicide in the deaths of two men and injury to a third individual during the Aug. 25, 2020 police brutality demonstration in Kenosha, WI.

Before hearing the closing arguments, the judge explained to the jury that the case rests on a self-defense matter and will be decided accordingly.

Judge Bruce Schroeder stated, “If the elements are present and the defendant was not acting lawfully in self-defense, then you do not need to go any further. You can return your verdict of guilty.”

“If you decide that the defendant acted lawfully in self-defense, you’re done. You can return your verdict of not guilty without considering any of the lesser offenses,” explained the judge.

Binger started the closing arguments as he stated, “This is a case in which a 17-year-old teenager killed two unarmed men and severely wounded a third person with an AR-15. This was not a situation where he was protecting his home or his family. He killed people after traveling from Antioch, Illinois, and staying out after a citywide curfew.

“Although the defendant claimed to be protecting a business that he wasn’t familiar with, the actual killings had nothing to do with that and he spent the entire evening lying about being an EMT (emergency medical technician),” commented Binger.

Binger asked, “Was this a situation where he truly cared about Car Source? …he never heard of [Car Source], never bought anything there, never worked there, and not even its owners were out that night protecting it.”

Binger further asked, “Was he genuinely interested in helping people? He ran around with an AR-15 all night and lying about being an EMT. Does that suggest to you that he is genuinely there to help?

“We have all agreed and I asked you this two weeks ago today: raise your hand if you agree life is more important than property…and you raised your hand,” argued Binger.

Binger expressed, “When you consider this case, look for the truth.”

Binger proceeded to describe the events that occurred at the scene of the crime.

“So, let’s go to Aug, 25, 2020. The defendant came from outside of our community carrying a gun that wasn’t his because he expected and anticipated violence that night,” argued Binger.

“There were a lot of people out that night. Some people stayed at home protecting their homes and their families. Others went to their businesses, boarded them up, and protected them. A lot of those people had weapons,” stated Binger.

Binger said that the jury would see a video of people yelling, shouting, and shoving. “And yet, in this entire sequence of events, from the shooting of Jacob Blake on Sunday, Aug. 23, 2020 to all the way after that…the only person who shot and killed anyone was the defendant,” Binger explained.

“Let’s start with the provocation and murder of Joseph Rosenbaum because it’s all captured on video,” Binger stated.

“As the defendant and Mr. Rosenbaum arrived at the 63rd St. Car Source, Mr. Rosenbaum is ahead of the defendant. As you see in the FBI video when Mr. Rosenbaum starts to run, the defendant starts to run as well at the same time as if he is pursuing him,” Binger described.

“The defendant arrives at the location and you hear him yell, ‘friendly, friendly, friendly’ because he’s aware of the fact that the people that he’s about to confront are hostile to him,” argued Binger.

Binger continued to describe the scene as the defendant put down the fire extinguisher from his left hand, “so he can raise the gun with his right and left hand.” Rosenbaum yells “gun, gun, gun” and “Mr. Rosenbaum charges around to try and stop the defendant from pointing his gun or shooting anyone.

“Under Wisconsin law, you’re not allowed to run around and point your gun at people. This is the provocation. This is what starts this incident,” expressed Binger.

Binger argued, “When the defendant provokes the incident, he loses the right to self-defense. You cannot claim self-defense against a danger you create.”

Binger further explained the incident as Rosenbaum runs behind Rittenhouse after seeing the gun.

“The defendant turns as he is being pursued and points the gun at Mr. Rosenbaum. As he enters the car between the parked cars, he slows and turns. Before Mr. Rosenbaum can even come close, he fires at him. Knocking him to the ground,” explained Binger.

“The defendant has testified. He saw at that moment that there was nothing in Mr. Rosenbaum’s hand. He was unarmed,” expressed Binger.

Binger argued, “There’s this alleged threat that Mr. Rosenbaum made earlier in the evening to kill the defendant. I will debunk that. That did not happen. It is the one fact in this case the defendant wants you to believe, that there is no video of.

“Dr. Kelly has testified the first shot that the defendant fired at Joseph Rosenbaum hit the victim in the right pelvis. Fracturing it. Mr. Rosenbaum was incapacitated at that point. Whatever threat he might have posed, it’s over. There is no further threat. He is falling to the ground and the defendant doesn’t stop after the first shot,” Binger explained.

Binger further commented how the defendant tracked “Mr. Rosenbaum’s body all the way down, firing three more shots. A second shot which goes through Mr. Rosenbaum’s hand. Then, a third and fourth shot. One that grazes the right scalp and one that goes right into Mr. Rosenbaum’s back. That is the kill shot. That is the one that took Mr. Rosenbaum’s life.

“There is no evidence that Mr. Rosenbaum was reaching for the defendant’s gun. After that first shot, there’s no way Mr. Rosenbaum could have taken that gun even if he wanted to. He’s already falling to the ground. He is helpless. He is vulnerable,” Binger asserted.

“The defendant decided to pull the trigger four times. That was his decision and he is responsible for every bullet that comes out of that gun. He does not get a pass for pulling the trigger fast. He could have chosen to stop at the first shot, after the second shot, after the third shot and assessed whether there was a need to keep firing,” argued Binger.

Binger added, “He went four times in 0.76 seconds. The defense has made a big point about this, how fast he fired as if that somehow this excuses him. Exactly the opposite…He controls how quickly he pulls the trigger. He is in control of that decision-making process.

“The only way that you could justify the murder of Joseph Rosenbaum is if you believe that Joseph Rosenbaum was actually reaching for the defendant’s gun…strapped tightly to his chest…as he’s falling to the ground with a fractured right pelvis,” expressed Binger.

“And then, not only all of that, but defendant has to believe Joseph Rosenbaum was going to turn that gun around and use it to kill (him)…Because if he’s not reaching for that gun and he’s not going to use it, there is no valid self-defense claim,” Binger argued.

“When the defendant provokes the situation, he has to exhaust all reasonable means to avoid killing someone. Did he?” asked Binger.

Binger argued that “he’s the one who chose where to run. He chose to run in between those parked cars…If you look at the video, there’s a huge open space in that lot where the defendant could have circled back around…where he could have gotten away.

“He has to exhaust all reasonable means of escape before killing Mr. Rosenbaum,” asserted Binger again.

The case is expected to go to the jury Tuesday.

About The Author

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

Related posts


  1. Keith Olson

    Most of the pundits I’ve heard said the two prosecutors in this case totally bungled it.  In fact they made the case for self defense even more evident with their court presentations.

    I’m curious as to why only the closing arguments of the prosecution are cited in this article when the defense also gave their closing arguments?

    1. David Greenwald

      I would be speculating but likely separate people were assigned prosecution and defense. I don’t know if both articles came in or if the decision was made to run them separately.

    2. David Greenwald

      On the substantive issue – this is a really interesting issue from a legal standpoint. The basic law is that you cannot claim self-defense if you provoke the confrontation to begin with. In a sense, bringing a loaded firearm to a volatile situation is every bit as much incitement as yelling fire in a crowded theater.

      As one expert put it:

      “In other words, their own decision to carry a gun became a justification to use it, lest it be wrested away from them,” said Eric Ruben, an expert on the Second Amendment at the S.M.U. Dedman School of Law in Dallas.

      The question here is how will the jury see it. Will they acquit? Will they hang? I can’t see them convicting. But I guess we’ll see.

      The gun rights advocates argue we are safer having responsible people having weapons – well, I guess you can argue that a 17 year old with a weapon isn’t a responsible person, but I guarantee you, no one dies if there was no gun brought to this scene and that undermines the NRA talking point severely.

      1. Keith Olson

        Rittenhouse stated he was protecting a business.  He didn’t initiate the attacks.  In all three instances his assailants chased him down to where Rittenhouse felt his life was in danger and he had to shoot in order to save himself.  Two of the assailants attacked him while he was on the ground.

        but I guarantee you, no one dies if there was no gun brought to this scene and that undermines the NRA talking point severely.

        Guarantee?  I would surmise that there was a good chance that Rittenhouse would’ve died if he had tried to protect that business unarmed.

        1. David Greenwald

          The only question is whether the act of bringing a gun to a protest is itself provocative. As I told the interns yesterday, if I see a 17 year old kid with a gun, I’m not thinking, oh that’s nice, he’s protecting the property. I’m thinking he’s about to shoot him some lefties and then I make a choice – do I run away or run at him. I probably run away at my age with my bad shoulders. The point is, his carrying the weapon creates the danger that then becomes the justification to use it. That’s not a legal self-defense claim. Whether the jury sees it that way, no idea.

        2. Keith Olson

          I thought you said you were neutral in this case, but just about everything you say is against Rittenhouse.

          I’m thinking he’s about to shoot him some lefties and then I make a choice – do I run away or run at him.

          So you would think about charging at someone who has a gun that is standing out in front of a business trying to protect it?  Not a smart choice.  All three of the assailants would be alive today if they hadn’t charged at or chased down Rittenhouse.  You also forget that one of his assailants also had a gun.  So if one carries a knife and they are attacked and they use the knife in self defense should they be charged with murder for carrying a knife?

          1. David Greenwald

            I was until I watched the closing arguments. Now I made up my mind. That’s one of the key things I teach all of the interns – never decide you know what happened until you watch closing arguments, that’s when the attorneys put their points of law together with the facts.

            I was convinced on the law here. But, I think he gets acquitted or hung jury. But in my person view, I think he’s guilty.

            I would think of charging someone I think is about to kill a lot of people and if I see a 17 year old with a gun, I’m not thinking he’s protecting the property. I’m thinking he’s out for the kill. As the prosecutor pointed out, the people there are entitled to self-defense as well, and there have been too many active shooters to sit back and wait for someone with a gun to start shooting.

            This is a real problem, especially if more and more people start arming in public. It’s something that the law has contemplated and the right to gun people certainly haven’t.

        3. Keith Olson

          I was until I watched the closing arguments. Now I made up my mind. I think he gets acquitted or hung jury, but I think he’s guilty personally.

          LOL, if you say so.

          I would think of charging someone I think is about to kill a lot of people 

          So one can legally attack someone if they think they know what the other person is thinking?  I can’t even imagine where that would go.

          In Rittenhouse’s case, he was actually being attacked, he didn’t think that they might attack him.

          See the difference.

          1. David Greenwald

            If you have a reasonable belief that someone is about to open fire on a crowd, yes. From a legal standpoint, the case should hinge on whether the jury believes that the victims were justified in their belief that Rittenhouse posed a lethal threat. If the answer is yes, then Rittenhouse is not entitled to use deadly force at that point. If the answer is no, then he is. Your point is irrelevant: “In Rittenhouse’s case, he was actually being attacked, he didn’t think that they might attack him.”

            That’s not how the law reads. The question isn’t whether he’s being attacked, it’s whether he instigated it.

        4. Keith Olson

          In Rittenhouse’s case, he was actually being attacked, he didn’t think that they might attack him.”
          That’s not how the law reads.

          So someone defending themselves from ‘actually’ being attacked is trumped by someone  who ‘thinks’ or ‘projects’ that they might get attacked?

          When Rittenhouse was running away in fear for his life where the guys chasing him in fear for their lives?

          1. David Greenwald

            From the law, the issue isn’t what Kyle was doing, it’s whether the others had a reasonable belief that he represented a deadly threat. And the law allows that they can be mistaken in that assessment, as long as it’s reasonable.

            It still comes down to the issue you keep dodging – whether or not simply having a gun at the place and time and displayed in the manner that he was, represented a threat.

        5. Keith Olson

          So an assailant goes up to Rittenhouse and stabs him in the heart says “he was standing there with a gun protecting a business but I thought he might start shooting us rioters” is reasonable?  Not to most people.  Often times businesses will hire people or the owners will stand out front themselves with weapons in order to protect their premises.

        6. Keith Olson

          Question for you David.

          Using your reasoning if a black person shows up with a rifle at a KKK rally saying he was protecting property would you defend the KKK if they charged and killed the black guy because the KKK said they felt threatened?

          1. David Greenwald

            That’s not quite the parallel situation.

            I think the impasse point is very clear: is the mere showing up with a weapon under those conditions a credible threat. And that’s why I think you end up with either an acquittal or a hung jury, because a lot of the jury are going to believe as you do, that it’s not an inherent threat. I think showing up with a weapon is a threat and I think that has huge political ramifications way beyond this case.

          1. David Greenwald

            Like I said, “Politically it would be messy, but the law is fairly clear on this kind of thing.”

        7. Keith Olson

          You’re still skirting my question.

          If a black guy was standing outside of a business with a rifle during a KKK rally and the KKK participants felt threatened do you think they have the right initiate a confrontation and chase the black guy with the gun?

          1. David Greenwald

            The answer is the same the same as this case here. If someone is carry a weapon in the open, and provokes a response, he doesn’t get to shoot them and claim self-defense. Whether it actually gets charged and convicted, I cannot say. As I said, it’s politically messy. You’ve also added an interesting element by adding KKK rather than just turning it from white to black shooter. But you’ll notice that there were no Blacks in Charlottesville open carrying weapons.

  2. Bill Marshall

    Sidebar:  fascinating… the “lottery” used to select the ‘final 12’ jurors… with the defendant picking the 6 alternates from a spun drum (by number).  Makes some sense, in that no juror knows if they will be one of ‘the final 12’, so everyone will be “paying attention” during the trial…

    Also, apparently the Wisc. Nat’l Guard has been called into Kenosha… probably as ‘standby’, not necessarily ‘deployed’…

  3. Bill Marshall

    Often times businesses will hire people or the owners will stand out front themselves with weapons in order to protect their premises.

    Neither of which apply (based on evidence presented) to the facts involving this particular case…

        1. Bill Marshall

          Actually, based on one of the questions asked when I was in the jury pool a few years back, “Do you read the Davis Vanguard?”, a potential juror who answered “yes” was set aside on a pre-emptory (no reason) basis… can’t recall if it was the defense or the prosecution who raised the challenge…

          So, if asked that question, and if you answer truthfully, either the prosecution or defense might challenge you either on a pre-ep, or ask for a ‘for cause’ exclusion.

          I wasn’t asked that question.  Maybe it was an ‘outlier’ for that particular case… I’ve served as a juror twice… been in the pool several times… usually, it appears that I was, (when interviewed) an engineer, and/or I did/had worked for a public agency, and worked peripherally with PD.  Half the time I got to the voir dire part, prosecution excluded me, and the other half, the defense.  I was actually surprised I got empaneled twice.  [out of  4 voir dires, about a dozen ‘calls’]

    1. David Greenwald

      I don’t like the prosecution. I don’t like the defense. I don’t like the defendant. I don’t like the victim. I especially don’t like the judge Not much to root for here.

  4. Don Shor

    From the New York Times, here are the actual charges.

    “COUNT 1

    First-degree reckless homicide

    Under Wisconsin law, this crime is defined as recklessly causing the death of another human being under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life. It is not necessary for prosecutors to prove intent to kill. (Charges that are generally known as murder counts in other states are called homicides under Wisconsin law.)

    Mr. Rittenhouse is accused of this crime in connection with the fatal shooting of Joseph D. Rosenbaum. It is a Class B felony carrying a basic sentence of up to 60 years in prison.


    COUNTS 2 AND 5

    First-degree recklessly endangering safety

    The law defines this crime as recklessly endangering another person’s safety under circumstances that show utter disregard for human life.

    Mr. Rittenhouse is charged with recklessly endangering two people who, according to the criminal complaint, had shots fired toward them but were not hit: Richard McGinnis and an unknown male seen in video of the episode.

    The crime is a class F felony that carries a basic sentence of up to 12 and a half years in prison, a fine of up to $25,000, or both, for each of the two counts.

    COUNT 3

    First-degree intentional homicide

    The crime, analogous to first-degree murder in other states, is defined as causing the death of another human being with intent to kill that person or someone else, without the presence of certain mitigating circumstances specified in the law.

    Mr. Rittenhouse faces this charge in connection with the fatal shooting of Anthony M. Huber. It is a Class A felony that carries a basic sentence of life in prison.

    COUNT 4

    Attempted first-degree intentional homicide

    Attempting to commit first-degree intentional homicide is a Class B felony under Wisconsin law.

    Mr. Rittenhouse faces this charge in connection with the shooting of Gaige P. Grosskreutz, who was struck and wounded. It carries a basic sentence of up to 60 years in prison.


    Use of a dangerous weapon

    A provision of Wisconsin law extends the maximum sentence for crimes committed while possessing, using or threatening to use a dangerous weapon. The criminal complaint invokes this provision for all five felony counts; in each case, it could add up to five years to the prison sentence for that count, if Mr. Rittenhouse is convicted.”

    1. Bill Marshall

      The fact those charges were made, go to the MH issues Mr Rittenhouse appears to have… as did the evidence…

      IF he is found guilty of the charges, IF he does prison time, bet his life expectancy is 1-2 years if he is in the ‘general population’…

      The jury cannot consider the MH aspects… but I opine, he is border-line sociopath, needs state-required treatment, and should be prevented from possessing a gun [much less an automatic rifle] for the rest of his life… just an opinion…

      He is NOT an “innocent”, hero, or ‘justified’… he murdered… and except for an ‘orchestrated moment’ has expressed no remorse, and has appeared very ‘smug’… he figures he’ll skate, and the tragedy is, that’s a 50-50 bet.

  5. Keith Olson

    One thing we know for sure, if Rittenhouse isn’t convicted there will be riots and chaos even though no black people were involved.  The rabble rousers are looking for a reason, any reason, to create bedlam.

    1. Ron Oertel

      It’s probably pretty cold in Wisconsin at this time of year, which tends to reduce the intensity and scope of protests (or riots, if you prefer).

      Then again, this type of thing doesn’t help, from a Congressional representative:

      When we marched in Ferguson, white supremacists would hide behind a hill near where Michael Brown Jr. was murdered and shoot at us,” Bush wrote. They never faced consequences.”

      “If Kyle Rittenhouse gets acquitted, it tells them that even 7 years later they still can get away with it,” Bush wrote.

      Cori Bush: White supremacists shot at Ferguson protesters (

      But hey, if it does occur – it makes for some sensational, “must-see TV”. In fact, some might argue that media coverage causes this. (A self-feeding loop.)

      “No justice, no peace.”

      And really, who won’t remember the “Q-Anon Shaman” for the rest of our lives? God, I love that costume. Again, “Must-See TV.”

        1. Ron Oertel

          I would assume that the current administration would refer to them as peaceful protestors.

          It’s kind of a shame that the one massive bill that was finally passed (with some bipartisan support) isn’t being acknowledged as something that is likely good for all, for the most part.

          You know, the type of boring (as in not inciteful) but necessary stuff that government used to address. Or, maybe I have some rose-colored glasses on regarding how government used to operate, not sure.

      1. Alan Miller

        It’s probably pretty cold in Wisconsin at this time of year, which tends to reduce the intensity and scope of protests (or riots, if you prefer).

        What better than a nice used-car-lot fire to keep Wisconsinites warm on a cold winter night?

        1. Ron Oertel

          used-car-lot fire 

          If we’ve “learned” nothing else from my words of wisdom on here, please remember that it’s “pre-owned” car lot fires, not used car lot fires.

Leave a Reply

X Close

Newsletter Sign-Up

X Close

Monthly Subscriber Sign-Up

Enter the maximum amount you want to pay each month
Sign up for