Judge Tells Rittenhouse He's 'Raising' Conviction Risk as Jury Also Weighs Lesser Charges

The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial will now be allowed to consider lesser charges, in addition to the ones he originally faced.

Rittenhouse is charged with several counts, including homicide and attempted homicide, after the then-17-year-old fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz at a Black Lives Matter protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August 2020.

The shooting set off debate over whether this was a case of vigilantism or using one's Second Amendment rights. Rittenhouse testified that he only shot the three men in self-defense.

The Associated Press reported that Judge Bruce Schroeder said he would issue his final rulings on which lesser charges he would allow on Saturday.

Schroeder addressed Rittenhouse directly without the jury present toward the end of the day Friday. The AP reported that he told the teenager by having the lesser charges included "you're raising the risk of conviction, although you're avoiding the possibility that the jury will end up compromising on the more serious crime. And you're also decreasing the risk that you'll end up with a second trial because the jury is unable to agree."

Closing arguments for the trial will take place on Monday, after which the 12 jurors will decide Rittenhouse's fate.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Kyle Rittenhouse, Bruce Schroeder
The jury in the Rittenhouse trial can now consider lesser charges in addition to the original charges. Above, Judge Bruce Schroeder and Kyle Rittenhouse look at video screen as attorneys for both sides argue about a video during Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on November 12. Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP

Rittenhouse, now 18, faces one count of first-degree reckless homicide in the shooting death of Rosenbaum, who was the first person he shot after Rosenbaum chased him into a used car lot. Prosecutors sought to add a second-degree reckless homicide charge, which would not require prosecutors to prove that Rittenhouse had shown an utter disregard for human life. After the defense objected, Schroeder said he was unlikely to allow the jury to consider the lesser charge because he thought a subsequent guilty verdict on second-degree reckless homicide would be overturned on appeal.

Rittenhouse also faces two charges of first-degree reckless endangerment: one for firing at an unknown man who tried to kick him in the face and another because a reporter was in the line of fire when Rittenhouse shot Rosenbaum.

Schroeder said he was inclined to allow a lesser charge of second-degree reckless endangerment when it comes to endangering the reporter, but that attorneys shouldn't be surprised if he doesn't allow it. He also said he wouldn't allow the lesser charge in the case of the unidentified man who tried to kick Rittenhouse.

Rittenhouse also faces one count of first-degree intentional homicide in Anthony Huber's death, which carries a mandatory life sentence. Huber swung his skateboard at Rittenhouse after the teen killed Rosenbaum.

The defense did not object to adding lesser counts of second-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide as it relates to Huber. It did object to adding a charge of second-degree reckless homicide. The judge said he "embraced" that argument.

Rittenhouse faces one count of attempted first-degree intentional homicide for shooting and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz in the arm. Grosskreutz confronted Rittenhouse after Huber was shot and killed.

Prosecutors asked for adding lesser counts of second-degree attempted intentional homicide, first-degree reckless endangerment and second-degree reckless endangerment. Rittenhouse attorney Corey Chirafisi did not object to the second-degree attempted homicide count, but he did object to adding the reckless endangerment counts, saying he doesn't believe someone can "attempt to be reckless."

Schroeder said he would mull it over but was inclined to agree with prosecutors.

Rittenhouse's lawyers rested their case on Thursday after putting on about 2 1/2 days of testimony compared to the prosecution's five. The most riveting moment came when Rittenhouse told the jury that he was defending himself from attack when he used his rifle to shoot the three men.

The Kenosha protests were set off by the wounding of Jacob Blake by a white police officer. Rittenhouse went to Kenosha from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, with a rifle and a medical kit in what the former police and fire youth cadet said was an effort to protect property after rioters set fires and ransacked businesses on previous nights.

When he testified about that night, Rittenhouse said he heard a gunshot directly behind him as he was being chased by Rosenbaum. Authorities said the shot was fired by someone else in the crowd.

The account Rittenhouse gave has largely been corroborated by a wealth of video and the prosecution's own witnesses: Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum cornered him and put his hand on the barrel of his rifle, that Huber hit him with a skateboard and that Grosskreutz came at him with a gun of his own.

At one point Wednesday, his lawyers angrily demanded that the judge declare a mistrial and bar Rittenhouse from being retried—essentially asking that the whole case be thrown out. They accused the chief prosecutor of asking Rittenhouse out-of-bounds questions.

The judge lambasted the prosecutor but pressed on with the case.

Rittenhouse trial, Kenosha
Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder will be deciding which of the lesser charges the jury can deliberate in the Rittenhouse trial. Above, Schroeder, right, addresses attorneys after attorneys for both sides argue about a video during Kyle Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on November 12. Mark Hertzberg/Pool Photo via AP