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Explainer: What charges does Kyle Rittenhouse face?

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The jury that will decide Kyle Rittenhouse's fate will be allowed to consider some lesser charges in addition to those prosecutors originally brought against him, after fierce debate by both sides on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Rittenhouse, who was 17 when he fatally shot two protesters and wounded a third in August 2020 during a chaotic night of protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, testified that he had acted in self-defense. Jurors are expected to begin deliberating Monday, Nov. 15, 2021, in the case that has left Americans divided over whether the Illinois teenager was a patriot who took a stand against lawlessness or a vigilante who brought a gun to a protest.


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Kyle Rittenhouse shot three men, killing two of them and wounding the third, during a protest against police brutality in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last year. Rittenhouse has argued that he fired in self-defense after the men attacked him. Here's a look at the charges that prosecutors carried into court, as well as lesser charges that the judge put before the jury in final instructions.

COUNT 1: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESS HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

This felony charge is connected to the death of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man Rittenhouse shot. Bystander video shows Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse through a parking lot and throwing a plastic bag at him. Rittenhouse flees behind a car and Rosenbaum follows. Video introduced at trial showed Rittenhouse wheeling around and firing as Rosenbaum chased him. Richie McGinniss, a reporter who was trailing Rittenhouse, testified that Rosenbaum lunged for Rittenhouse's gun.

Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber

This frame grab from video shot by Julio Rosas on Aug. 25, 2020, shows Joseph Rosenbaum, in the red shirt, front center, and Anthony Huber, in the blue hat behind Rosenbaum, confronting armed men during street protests in Kenosha that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Later that night both men were shot and killed by Kyle Rittenhouse, who says he acted in self defense. 

Reckless homicide differs from intentional homicide in that prosecutors aren't alleging Rittenhouse intended to murder Rosenbaum. Instead, they're alleging Rittenhouse caused Rosenbaum's death in circumstances showing an utter disregard for human life.

The charge is punishable by up to 60 years in prison. The dangerous weapon modifier carries an additional five years.

COUNT 2: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESSLY ENDANGERING SAFETY, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

This felony charge is connected to the Rosenbaum shooting. McGinniss told investigators he was in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum. The charge is punishable by 12 1/2 years in prison. The weapons modifier carries an additional five years.

COUNT 3: FIRST-DEGREE RECKLESSLY ENDANGERING SAFETY, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

Video shows an unknown man leaping at Rittenhouse and trying to kick him seconds before Anthony Huber moves his skateboard toward him. Rittenhouse appears to fire two rounds at the man but apparently misses as the man runs away.

This charge is a felony punishable by 12 1/2 years in prison. The weapons modifier again would add up to five more years.

Thomas Binger - Nov. 3

Thomas Binger, assistant district attorney, talks about the videos where Rittenhouse can be seen discharging his firearm on the night of Aug. 25, 2020, during the trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 3 2021. 

COUNT 4: FIRST-DEGREE INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

This charge is in Huber's death. Video shows Rittenhouse running down the street after shooting Rosenbaum when he falls to the street. Huber leaps at him and swings a skateboard at his head and neck and tries to grab Rittenhouse's gun before Rittenhouse fires. The criminal complaint alleges Rittenhouse aimed the weapon at Huber.

Intentional homicide means just that — a person killed someone and meant to do it. The count carries a mandatory life sentence. The weapons modifier would add up to five years.

Schroeder and Rittenhouse

Judge Bruce Schroeder, front, comes down from the bench and sits closer to a 4k television screen to watch a video as Kyle Rittenhouse, right, and his attorney Natalie Wisco stand behind him during proceedings at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. 

The jury also was given the option of second-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide in Huber's death.

Second-degree intentional homicide is punishable by up to 60 years in prison.

The first-degree reckless homicide charge sought in Huber's death matches an original charge in Rosenbaum's death — it would require jurors to decide that Rittenhouse caused Huber's death with an utter disregard for human life — and is punishable by up to 60 years in prison.

COUNT 5: ATTEMPTED FIRST-DEGREE INTENTIONAL HOMICIDE, USE OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON

This is the charge for Rittenhouse shooting Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm seconds after he shot Huber, and as Grosskreutz came toward him holding a pistol. Grosskreutz survived. Video shows Rittenhouse pointing his gun at Grosskreutz and firing a single round.

The charge carries a maximum sentence of 60 years. The weapons modifier would add up to five more years.

The jury has also been given the option of considering second-degree attempted intentional homicide and first-degree reckless endangerment charges.

Rittenhouse defense team - Nov. 8

Defendant Kyle Rittenhouse, left, listens as his attorneys Corey Chirafisi, foreground, and Mark Richards, standing, confer during his trial in Kenosha Circuit Court, Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, in Kenosha.

The possible punishment for attempted second-degree intentional homicide is 30 years. Attempted first-degree reckless endangerment is punishable by up to 12 1/2 years.

COUNT 6: POSSESSION OF A DANGEROUS WEAPON BY A PERSON UNDER 18

The judge dismissed this charge on Monday.

Rittenhouse was armed with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle. He was 17 years old on the night of the shootings. Wisconsin law prohibits minors from possessing firearms except for hunting or when supervised by an adult in target practice or instruction in the proper use of a dangerous weapon. Rittenhouse’s attorneys argued that another subsection of the law, regarding short-barreled rifles, provided grounds for dismissing the charge.

Prosecutors argued the defense was misreading the statute, and Schroeder had earlier twice declined to dismiss the charge. But the judge also had said the statute was confusing. After prosecutors conceded that the rifle was not short-barreled, Schroeder dismissed the charge.

Kyle Rittenhouse - Nov. 9

Kyle Rittenhouse waits for the start of his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. 

COUNT 7: FAILURE TO COMPLY WITH AN EMERGENCY ORDER FROM STATE OR LOCAL GOVERNMENT

Rittenhouse was charged with being out on the streets after an 8 p.m. curfew imposed by the city, a minor offense that carries a fine of up to $200. The judge dismissed this charge during the trial, saying the prosecution didn't offer enough evidence to prove it.

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