Rittenhouse family spokesperson says verdict “was expected”


(CNN)
(CNN)

Laura Coates, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, said she was not surprised the jury acquitted Kyle Rittenhouse on all charges because of the jury instructions and the execution of the prosecution’s argument.

The prosecutors were trying to make a case about an active shooter, arguing that everyone else who responded to Rittenhouse’s actions that night were actually the one’s acting in self-defense. Coates said, in the end, it wasn’t compelling.

“That proved unpersuasive it seems to this particular jury for two reasons. One, Wisconsin is a place that has a gun culture that’s not synonymous with criminal activity. The idea of saying you want to alienate a gun owner would not have been persuasive enough. The idea of saying, hey, they were acting in self-defense might have been compelling, except for the jury instruction,” Coates explained.

She said the jury instruction said jurors had to look at the case through the eyes of then 17-year-old Rittenhouse, not in hindsight. The jurors had to access the reasonableness of Rittenhouse’s actions and decide whether it was his belief that he had to use self-defense.

“When you saw him take the stand and explain why he himself thought he was in lethal danger at that point, that probably was the one that tipped the needle,” Coates said.

“He believed that it was reasonable to do so and now the burden went back to the prosecution where it always should stay to say, hey, we have proven that he was not reasonable in his belief, that he was in a kill or be killed scenario,” she added.

Wisconsin law requires that when a self-defense claim is raised, prosecutors must disprove self-defense beyond a reasonable doubt, not the other way around as it is in other jurisdictions, Coates explained.

In order for the prosecution to successfully make its active shooter argument, attorneys would have had to present evidence that disproves Wisconsin’s self-defense threshold, according to Coates.

“Of course, the two people who were killed might have been in a position to do so, but they couldn’t testify, they were dead,” she said, adding that the third person who was shot, Gaige Grosskreutz testified that Rittenhouse fired when Grosskreutz aimed his gun at him.



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