Kyle Rittenhouse verdict: 5 ways prosecution screwed up the case
Right from the get-go, experts knew the case was 'weak', but here are four other ways the prosecution damaged their chances of winning a conviction
After four days of deliberation, a jury found Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of all charges, bringing to an end November 19, one of the most high-profile cases this year. The conclusion seemed forgone, as many believed during the trial Rittenhouse would walk out a free man. Ultimately, that prediction came to pass, for a variety of reasons.
Early on, many accused Judge Bruce Schroeder of favoring the defense, an allegation that led to death threats to the judge and his family. But the reality is that the prosecution must take a lot of the blame. Many internet users have been quick to blame prosecutor Thomas Binger, for his handling of the case. From getting into arguments with the judge and violating gun safety laws in court, he's done a lot to hurt his case, but he's not the only one to blame.
The case was perceived to be weak against Rittenhouse from the start and several high-profile missteps during the trial only helped to further seal his fate as a free man. Here are just five ways the prosecution screwed the pooch or in this case, the case.
#1: Gaige Grosskreutz charges and testimony
On November 8, Gaige Grosskreutz, the third man shot by Rittenhouse, took the stand to testify. Under oath, he admitted he raised his gun first at the teen, which led Rittenhouse to shoot back, injuring his arm. The testimony helped cement the defense's argument that Rittenhouse was merely acting in self-defense, an argument to which the prosecution had no comeback. In fact, the video appears to show one of the prosecutors doing a facepalm after Grosskreutz's admission.
Then days later, Grosskreutz's criminal record came to light. The 28-year-old is reportedly a career criminal, with charges going back a decade for domestic abuse, trespassing, multiple DUIs, prowling, and felony burglary amongst others. Six days before he testified, he had a DUI charge dropped on a technicality, reportedly so that it wouldn't affect his credibility. But unfortunately for the prosecution, the cat was out of the bag before the jury verdict.
#2: Binger's battles with the judge
Throughout the trial, Binger got into heated exchanges with the judge, which nearly ended with the whole thing being declared a mistrial. On two occasions, he attempted to introduce evidence the judge explicitly ruled out pre-trial, leading the judge to say, "don't get brazen with me." The incidents led the defense to argue "the prosecutor's actions was designed to allow another chance to convict, to provoke a mistrial to get another kick at the cat because the first trial is going badly."
Ultimately, the threat of mistrial was never followed through, as Rittenhouse was acquitted, but the specter appeared to dampen the prosecution's case over the following days.
#3: Drone footage fiasco
On November 15, the defense claimed that the prosecution had shared with them a low-resolution file of the drone footage at the center of the case. "The problem is the prosecution gave the defense a compressed version of the video. What that means is the video provided to the defense was not as clear as the video kept by the state," they argued. It was the second ground for a mistrial, but the judge didn't immediately grant the defense their wish.
But, the contents of the footage also need to be talked about. The footage showed Rosenbaum chasing Rittenhouse before the teen fired back and killed him. Forensic pathologist, Dr. Doug Kelley testified that the footage showed Rosenbaum wasn't a threat, but later also acknowledged that he may have been during cross-questioning.
#4: Excess charges, but nothing that would stick
Shortly after the shootings by Rittenhouse, then- Presidential candidate Joe Biden weighed in on the case, putting immense pressure on the Kenosha County DA. Mike Graveley, the DA responded to the publicity by slapping Rittenhouse with a large number of charges, including first-degree homicide and reckless endangerment. To make matters worse, he was charged as an adult, but the DA also chose to add a charge of possessing a weapon while under the age of 18.
At the time, experts testified that a large number of charges wouldn't work, especially with very little evidence from the night. "He’s got nothing. just don’t understand it. What are we doing here? We’re all kind of scratching our head," said Daniel Adams, a former Milwaukee County assistant district attorney. As the trail began to wind down, that certainly appeared to be the case, and Binger attempted to add numerous second-degree charges as well, of which the judge agreed to only a few.
#5: Binger 'set up to fail'
"Binger was set up for failure. Graveley is the superstar and he knew this one was sure to tarnish it," one Kenosha legal insider told The Daily Mail. According to insiders, Graveley knew the case against Rittenhouse was a weak one, which is why he handed it off to Binger, rather than dealing with it himself, as he normally would have done. Adams added Binger was "left to spin gold out of a pile of self-defense straw."
It's unclear if Gravelely knew just how weak the case was, but he conveniently stayed well away from it, leaving Binger in the line of fire. It showed in the prosecution's argument, as many experts noted they had no strategy, and simply tried to make the charges stick with little evidence. Meanwhile, Graveley has firmly refused to comment on the case, despite it being one of the most, if not the most high-profile cases in Kenosha County.