The jury in the Nathan Kivi homicide trial ended the day Monday without reaching a verdict and will return today to continue deliberations.
Kivi, 26, is charged with two counts of first-degree intentional homicide for the November 2017 shooting deaths of Kenneth and Richard Samuel outside the Beach Bar in Twin Lakes. According to testimony at the trial, Kivi shot the brothers multiple times after an argument outside the bar in the early morning hours after Thanksgiving. Kivi took the stand at the trial to say he shot the brothers in self-defense after the window of his truck was shattered.
In her closing argument, defense attorney Kristyne Watson told the jury that Kivi felt he had no choice but to shoot the Samuel brothers. “This angry, drunk group just kept coming at him. He had no choice,” she said.
District Attorney Michael Graveley argued that Kivi shot the brothers not in self-defense, but in rage.
Graveley said that Kivi fired his first gunshot into the air during a verbal argument between Kivi’s friends and another group of people outside the bar at closing time. One of the two men with Kivi ran away when that first shot was fired. Kivi and a second friend then got into Kivi’s truck and began to drive away.
As Kivi was about to pull out of the bar parking lot, his rear window was struck by what police and witnesses believe was a beer bottle, and Kivi stopped his pickup truck. His friend testified that he tried to stop Kivi from grabbing his gun. When Kivi got his hands on the weapon, the friend testified, he too fled on foot.
Kivi then stepped out of the truck and shot the two brothers, who were hit by five shots. Richard, 28, died at the scene. Kenneth, 31, died shortly thereafter at Burlington Hospital. Both brothers were lifelong residents of Twin Lakes.
At trial, witnesses who had been at the bar — including friends of the Samuel brothers and of Kivi — testified that there were no physical fights before the shooting, and that the verbal argument outside the bar before Kivi fired the first shot was largely between Kivi’s friends and one other man. The brothers were not involved in that argument, according to testimony at trial. There is no indication from testimony that they ever spoke to Kivi before the shooting.
Graveley said during his closing argument that it is likely the brothers heard shouting and heard the first shot fired and may have run after the truck because they thought the driver may have shot at or shot one of their friends, saying perhaps “you run and see if you can stop it, or see if you can get a plate, or maybe throw a bottle in your ineffectiveness.”
Watson said Kivi believed the brothers were running toward him to kill him.
Kivi is a felon with 10 convictions in his past. He is currently serving a 13-year prison sentence for burglary, sent to prison after his probation was revoked. He was also out on bond for a felony domestic violence charge at the time of his arrest for homicide. Carrying a weapon as a felon was another felony, and he was also prohibited by his bond conditions from having a weapon. Kivi said on the stand that he did not believe he should have to comply with the law, thinking he had the right to carry a gun.
The jury began deliberating at 12:18 p.m. When they had not yet reached a verdict, Judge Bruce Schroeder sent them home for the day at about 4:30 p.m., asking them to return to the Kenosha County Courthouse to continue deliberations this morning.