Kyle Rittenhouse took the witness stand in his murder trial Wednesday and as he calmly provided his account of what happened on the night that protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, seemingly got out of hand, the teenager burst into sobbing which forced the judge to declare a short recess.
Though no tears were evident, and the timing of his sobbing appeared odd after methodically describing events, Rittenhouse quickly recovered and claimed he was the victim of an ambush.
The protests were in response to Kenosha police shooting African American Jacob Blake multiple times in the back. Armed with an AR-15-style rifle, Rittenhouse said he arrived with a group of other armed citizens on Aug. 25, 2020, seeking to keep peace and aid victims of violence.
Rittenhouse, 18, ultimately shot three people, killing two of them. The shooter and all three victims are white.
One of the men who died, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, had become upset with the teenager and threw a bag at him, Rittenhouse testified.
“He was just mad about something,” Rittenhouse said about Rosenbaum.
During the altercation, Rittenhouse fell and shot at three people whom he said confronted him.
“He’s no longer a threat to me,” Rittenhouse said of Rosenbaum, claiming that another person had their hands up and didn’t pose a threat, so he didn’t shoot him.
Rittenhouse then shot Anthony Huber, 26, as the two struggled for control of Rittenhouse’s weapon.
Rittenhouse testified that while he was still on the ground, he saw a pistol in the hand of an approaching Gaige Grosskreutz and reacted by shooting him.
Grosskreutz, 27, the lone survivor of Rittenhouse’s shooting victims, testified earlier this week that he drew his weapon in belief that Rittenhouse was an active shooter.
Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time of shootings, is charged as an adult with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted homicide, as well as recklessly endangering the safety of two others and possessing a dangerous weapon while younger than 18.
If convicted of the intentional homicide charge, he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison without parole.
Rittenhouse, who has pleaded not guilty to all charges, maintains he acted in self-defense.
“I did what I had to do to stop the person who was attacking me,” he said Wednesday under cross-examination by prosecutor Thomas Binger.
“I used deadly force to stop the threat,” he said.