As Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial fast approaches, his lawyers have tried to dismiss one of the charges against him by invoking local hunting laws.
Mr Rittenhouse was 17 when he allegedly shot three people, killing two of them, during a 2020 protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He was charged with multiple felonies, including homicide, and one misdemeanor: possession of a deadly weapon by a person under 18.
Mr Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
On Tuesday, the teen’s attorneys tried to get the misdemeanor dismissed by citing a Wisconsin hunting statute, the Chicago Tribune reported. That statute requires supervision and training for anyone under 17 to use a gun while hunting.
However, defense attorney Corey Chirafisi argued, “There appears to be an exception for 17-year-olds.”
Prosecutors dared the defense to follow that argument all the way through.
“They can submit evidence that the defendant had a certificate to hunt and he was engaged in legal hunting on the streets of Kenosha that night,” Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger told the court. “I don’t think they really want to do that.”
Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder said he was open to reviewing the statutes, but did not dismiss the charge.
“I don’t feel comfortable making a ruling,” the judge said. “The basic concept is the rule... has to be clear to ordinary people.”
On the night of the shootings, Mr Rittenhouse was carrying a semi-automatic rifle similar to an AR-15. At the time, Kenosha was in the midst of raucous protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, and Mr Rittenhouse said he needed the gun to protect himself while defending local businesses.
At some point that night, Mr Rittenhouse is accused of shooting and killing Joseph Rosenbaum, who defense lawyers say had been chasing him. After the shooting, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz approached the teen, and Mr Rittenhouse allegedly shot them as well. Mr Huber died, and Mr Grosskreutz was seriously wounded. Mr Rittenhouse’s lawyers say he acted in self-defense.
The shootings were deeply polarizing for the country. Many conservatives supported Mr Rittenhouse, portraying him a patriot who tried to guard his community from violent protests. Others called the teen a murderer.
Jury selection for Mr Rittenhouse’s trial is scheduled to begin on 1 November.
The Independent has reached out to Mr Rittenhouse’s lawyers for comment, but has not heard back yet.
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