On Monday, a Wisconsin judge dropped weapons charges against Kyle Rittenhouse, who is currently on trial for last year’s fatal shooting which left two protestors dead and a third man wounded.
Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed count six — possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 — hours before jurors were set to deliberate. The defense argued that the statute makes it illegal for minors to carry a short-barrel rifle, which has a barrel shorter than 16 inches; it does not outlaw rifles with barrels longer than 16 inches as minors are legally allowed to hunt, according to Kenosha News.
The prosecution never presented evidence showing the AR-15 Rittenhouse, then 17, used during last year’s fatal shooting had a barrel exceeding 16 inches.
On Monday, prosecutors said the weapon in question had a barrel longer than 16 inches, leading Judge Schroeder to drop the charge.
Rittenhouse is still facing five counts, which include first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide, and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
On August 25, 2020, Rittenhouse reportedly shot three demonstrators at a protest in Kenosha regarding the officer-involved shooting of Jacob Blake, who was shot seven times in the back and left paralyzed. Joesph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, were killed during the protest shooting while a third man survived.
Rittenhouse, who is from Illinois, was accused of using an illegally-obtained AR-15-style weapon to carry out last year’s shooting in Wisconsin. He claimed while at the protest, he was hit in the head and neck with a baseball bat and skateboard. While medics reportedly observed superficial scratches on his arm, they did not see any bruising or cuts.
Rittenhouse’s friend, Dominick Black, 19, allegedly asked Rittenhouse to join him in protecting a Car Source business during the protest. However, multiple reports indicated that the owner of the Car Source never asked the pair to guard his business.
Black was arrested last November for allegedly buying the gun Rittenhouse used in the deadly shooting. Black allegedly used Rittenhouse’s money to make the purchase in Ladysmith, Wisconsin, but the weapon was registered to Black’s name.
After the shooting, Black allegedly drove Rittenhouse back to Antioch, Illinois, where Rittenhouse was arrested days later.
Rittenhouse, who is free on a $2 million bond, is charged with intentional homicide, attempted homicide, reckless homicide, recklessly endangering safety, and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
Monday’s court hearing continues with closing statements. A live stream is available for viewing below:
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[Featured image: Kyle Rittenhouse/Mark Hertzberg, Pool Photo via AP]