Which side was better at closing the Rittenhouse?

Which side was better at closing the Rittenhouse?

Kenosha, Wes. Defense attorneys angrily accused the prosecution in Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial of lying. The lead prosecutor struck a measured tone, even as he raised the accused’s gun at one point and watched it on the courtroom wall.

It won’t be clear how discontent and theater the jurors are during Monday’s closing arguments until 12 of them return with verdicts in a case that underscores America’s divisions over issues of guns, protests and policing.

Here’s a look at how about five hours of closing went through and which side might have made a stronger argument for the jurors:

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Who do the experts say made a better closing argument?

Most agreed to go to trial that prosecutors would have the most difficult case to present given Rittenhouse’s claim under state law that he shot three men, killing two, in self-defense. That challenge remained in the shutdown, as prosecutors had to present two weeks of evidence that largely showed Rittenhouse as the one to chase when he opened fire.

“Great facts make great lawyers,” said Steve Greenberg, a Chicago-based attorney who has looked at dozens of murder cases nationwide. “I think the defense has better facts here.”

He said that evidence that Joseph Rosenbaum, the first protester Rittenhouse was shot to death, was undergoing treatment for bipolar disorder and depression, helped support the defense’s arguments that Rosenbaum was an erratic presence who had ambushed Rittenhouse and tried to take his gun.

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He said the plaintiffs fared better, with their constantly recurring arguments that of all the people who showed up with guns at Kenosha, only Rittenhouse shot anyone.

Joe Lopez, another Chicago defense attorney who followed the trial closely, said he believed both sides missed an opportunity to tell compelling, memorable accounts to help jurors remember evidence.

The defense could have talked about Rittenhouse and his family and said, ‘Look at my client.’ Lopez said… He came to Kenosha and was willing to die for you, to protect you. Instead, he said, both sides often provide relatively dry recitations of evidence.

What is the problem at the core of the arguments?

Neither Rittenhouse’s alleged poor judgment of appearing in Kenosha with an AR-style rifle, nor the broader issues of American gun culture, are supposed to be the focus of the jurors. They are supposed to make their judgment based on whether Rittenhouse acted in self-defense under the sometimes complex and illogical rhetoric of Wisconsin law.

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Ultimately, the law requires that a person’s decision to respond with lethal force be reasonable in the seconds and minutes in which the conflict occurs.

So how did the lawyers try to bring this point to an end?

Attorney General Thomas Binger attacked the self-defense argument by saying that Rittenhouse provoked the conflict by appearing with his rifle. Binger retrieved Rittenhouse’s rifle—which had been kept for most of the trial in a white box behind the defense table—and explained how he said Rittenhouse used it recklessly and menacingly that night.

He repeatedly showed a jury video that he said depicted Rittenhouse pointing a gun at protesters, saying that this was what led to the chain reaction of the deadly events.

“This guy came with a special bullet and a pistol, he came to Kenosha with a pistol to shoot somebody,” Lopez said, summarizing what he called Binger’s closing push. “I think the attorney general has made that point very effectively.”

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But Binger heavily influenced jurors with images of violence as well.

Without warning, he showed a close-up of the arm of Gaige Grosskreutz, a protester who survived a Rittenhouse bullet. Some jurors wince and turn away from seeing their biceps in tatters.

That photo and that of Rosenbaum, lying on a stretcher during his autopsy, will likely stick with the jurors during deliberations.

How does defense work?

What may remain for the jurors from the conclusion of the defense hearing is lead attorney Mark Richards, who opens his argument by accusing Binger of lying to save a faltering case.

“Mr. Rosenbaum was shot because he was stalking my client, killing him, taking his gun, and carrying out his threats,” Richards said. He added that Rittenhouse never aimed his gun before chasing him: “It didn’t happen.”

Greenberg said he doesn’t think the prosecutor’s attack method will play well with jurors.

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“There was a lot of attack on the prosecutor by the defense,” he said. “People don’t like it. You have the facts or not.”

To what audience were lawyers playing?

Not the courtroom spectators, the viewers watching the shutdown on the live broadcast, or the journalists. Their target audience was jurors. Although they were not identified by order of the judge, the plaintiffs and defense team were able to get to know them and delve into their personal histories – and perhaps adapt their arguments to influence some of them.

However, both Greenberg and Lopez said the shutdowns are not nearly as decisive as people think.

“I don’t think many cases are ever won,” Greenberg said. “The jurors go back to the jury room and talk about everything among themselves.”

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Find AP’s full coverage of the Rittenhouse experience: https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse

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