Kyle Rittenhouse trial jury deliberated for 23 hours without a verdict

KENOSHA, Wisconsin – Jurors of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis deliberated in April for 10 hours. In 1995, a jury in ...


KENOSHA, Wisconsin – Jurors of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis deliberated in April for 10 hours. In 1995, a jury in the OJ Simpson trial rendered a verdict in less than four hours.

The jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case has spoken for 23 hours – and counting.

After three days, the seven women and five men who decide Mr Rittenhouse’s fate in a Kenosha courtroom have yet to reach consensus, a surprisingly long deliberation that suggests jurors may have clashed on important decisions before them.

Mr Rittenhouse, 18, is on trial on first-degree intentional manslaughter and other counts after killing two men and mutilating another during civil unrest in Kenosha, Wis., In August 2020. He faces jail in life.

Mark Richards, an attorney for Mr Rittenhouse, appeared baffled by the length of proceedings after the court ruling for Thursday. “They are either working to get consensus – they may even be divided,” Mr Richards said of the jury as he left the courthouse.

Throughout the building, there was little certainty, but a lot of speculation.

Mr Richards said that when he looked at the faces of the jurors as they sat in the courtroom at the end of the day, he thought: “They are divided six to six.”

Deliberations began on Tuesday. On Wednesday, jurors sent notes to Judge Bruce Schroeder and requested videos so they could review footage of the three shootings. On Thursday, there was little clue as to the nature of their talks, which are taking place behind closed doors in the Kenosha County Courthouse, the limestone building that has been the center of protests following the shooting of police against Jacob Blake 15 months ago.

The length of deliberations could be an indication of the complexity of the charges that the jury must sift through. In many murder trials, jurors are asked to decide whether or not an accused is guilty of a single count. But it’s a complicated picture in Mr. Rittenhouse’s case.

He faces five counts: one count of first degree intentional homicide in the death of 26-year-old Anthony Huber; reckless first-degree homicide in the death of 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum; one count of attempted first degree intentional homicide in the shooting of Gaige Grosskreutz; and two counts of reckless endangerment in the first degree, for shooting at Richie McGinniss and an unknown man.

By the end of the week, frustration was growing around Kenosha over the lawsuit, which has hampered traffic in the city center and cast a veil on the city since it began on November 1.

In the Uptown community of Kenosha, a diverse neighborhood that was hit hardest during civil unrest linked to police gunfire in August 2020, residents and business owners said they were closely following every turn of the trial. They knew the details: a charge against Mr. Rittenhouse which Judge Schroeder had decided this week to drop (illegal possession of firearms); how many demonstrators gathered on Thursday on the steps of the courthouse (a few dozen); and even the name of the jury’s high-level consultant for the defense (Jo-Ellan Dimitrius).

Claude Hamilton, the owner of Sir Claude’s hair salon, sipped coffee on Thursday and said he was anxiously awaiting the verdict.

He said he saw a double racial standard in the case, believing that Mr Rittenhouse, who is white, was allowed to roam the streets of downtown Kenosha with a semi-automatic rifle more freely than a black teen wouldn’t have done it.

“If he had been a person of color, he would have been convicted a long time ago,” said Mr. Hamilton.

The possibility of an annulment of the trial hangs over the deliberations, Judge Schroeder has not yet ruled on two defense requests asking him to cancel the trial. The motions claim that a prosecutor asked inappropriate questions during Mr Rittenhouse’s cross-examination and failed to provide a high-quality version of a video to the defense team before the trial. Wisconsin defense attorneys have said prosecutors could appeal if the judge grants the trial quash.

On Thursday, Judge Schroeder called lawyers for both sides into his courtroom and said an MSNBC producer followed a bus carrying jurors home from the courthouse the night before. The judge called this an “extremely serious matter” and said he was banning anyone affiliated with the cable network from entering the courthouse.

But the judge appeared gleeful as he gathered the jurors in his courtroom just after 4 p.m., told them they could bring his instructions to the judgethey returned home Thursday evening as they requested, and wished them a good evening.

There are high profile precedents for acquittals and convictions after long deliberation.

The only clues in the minds of the jurors were their requests to review portions of the copious video footage shown at trial and for more copies of the jury’s instructions.

Juries usually take days to acquit or convict. Florida jury weighed charges against George Zimmerman for more than 16 hours before paying it in 2013 counts, including second degree murder for killing Trayvon Martin by gunshot.

It took about 35 hours over nine days California jurors acquit actor Robert Blake in 2005 for the murder of his wife.

“You can’t read anything about it in terms of the length of proceedings, other than it’s so intensely stressful for the parties,” said Ion Meyn, assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin School of Law.

Mr Meyn noted that Mr Rittenhouse’s defense sought to limit the number of times jurors could review videos of the chaotic night in 2020 while prosecutors argued for unlimited viewing. This makes sense, Mr Meyn said, as lawyers for Mr Rittenhouse would more likely want jurors to focus on their client’s testimony. In the end, the judge sided with prosecutors and gave jurors a laptop with the videos they had requested, allowing them to watch them at their leisure.

As the hours passed in Mr Rittenhouse’s case, long wordless periods of the jury were punctuated by the parties being recalled to court for arguments on motions and other matters.

The time that has passed and the jury’s demand for video evidence suggests the panel is using a meticulous, evidence-based approach, said Valerie Hans, a professor at Cornell Law School who has extensively studied the system of jury.

Juries will sometimes take a “verdict-based” approach in which people voice their opinions early in deliberations, she said. “If you say ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ right away, you’ve kind of committed yourself publicly” to a position that is less likely to change, Ms. Hans said.

This approach is more likely to lead to a deadlocked jury, she added.

Not knowing what the jurors think has dire consequences, said John A. Birdsall, a Milwaukee-based lawyer who is not involved in Mr Rittenhouse’s trial but has endured jury deliberations that have lasted until to a week.

He said he spent those times trying to work on his other business.

“It’s very nerve-racking. You try to analyze every question that arises to assess where they are, ”he said. “But, of course, these are just guesses. “

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Newsrust - US Top News: Kyle Rittenhouse trial jury deliberated for 23 hours without a verdict
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