Kyle Rittenhouse acted like a moth "to a flame" and was "drawn to the chaos" in Kenosha last year when he needlessly gunned down two people, a Wisconsin prosecutor said Tuesday.
During his opening statement, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger told a jury of 11 women and nine men that Rittenhouse had no justification gunning down Anthony Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, on Aug. 25, 2020.
"One of things we all agreed on yesterday is life is more important than property," Binger said. "Like moths to a flame, tourists from outside of our community were drawn to the chaos here in Kenosha. People from outside of Kenosha came in and contributed to that chaos and it caused many of our citizens to fear for their safety."
He continued: "But out of the hundreds of people that came to Kenosha during that week, the hundreds of people that were out on the streets that week, the evidence will show that the only person that killed anyone was the defendant, Kyle Rittenhouse."
On multiple occasions, Binger reminded jurors that Rittenhouse was responsible for the only fatalities of protests.
Binger addressed 20 jurors, of which a dozen will be selected for deliberations after closing arguments. The rest will be alternates.
Rittenhouse, from nearby Antioch, Illinois, has said he was in Kenosha that night to defend private property and deliver first aid to anyone injured in protests.
And defense lawyer Mark Richards told jurors Tuesday that his client was legally justified to open fire, fearing the men he shot were going to harm him.
"He acted in self-defense, ladies and gentlemen," Richards said. "The evidence will show his actions on Aug. 25 of 2020 were reasonable under the circumstances as they existed.”
The unrest in Kenosha drew Rittenhouse, then 17, across state lines, where he allegedly took the AR-15-style semiautomatic rifle to protests.
Kenosha is about 20 miles northeast of Antioch and 40 miles south of Milwaukee.
Rittenhouse is charged with reckless homicide, intentional homicide and attempted intentional homicide after he fatally shot Rosenbaum and Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz during the protest, authorities said.
Binger and Richards both said they'll show how footage shot from infrared FBI camera, showing Rittenhouse and Rosenbaum.
The defense claims it'll prove that Rosenbaum was chasing Rittenhouse, while the prosecution insists video will show the defendant starting the confrontation.
"Kyle Rittenhouse is under no obligation whatsoever to retreat from Mr. Rosenbaum," Richards said. "He does. He runs away from him because he doesn’t want a confrontation. He doesn't want trouble."
Richards also said his client was forced to shoot Huber because the 26-year-old was dangerously swinging a skateboard at him.
”Kyle Rittenhouse (is) flat on his back, in the most vulnerable position," Richards said, pointing at an image showing them moments before the fatal round was fired.
"Kyle's afraid he is going to be disarmed and shot with his own weapon, the evidence will show. He fires one shot, striking Mr. Huber.”
Rittenhouse has also been charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18 and two counts of recklessly endangering safety after officials said he fired his weapon near others.
After opening statements, prosecutors brought their first witness to the stand, Rittenhouse's friend Dominick Black, who admitted to buying the weapon that the defendant used to fatally shoot Rosenbaum and Huber.
Black was also armed and in the streets of Kenosha on Aug. 25, but didn't open fire, despite rocks and gasoline bombs being hurled near him.
“There was no need to” shoot anyone, Black testified. “Pain yes, but not dangerous. I knew it wasn't going to kill me.”
Black is facing charges in a separate case for allegedly buying the rifle for Rittenhouse. His trial was set for September but moved back to January, with the defense on Tuesday hinting that he was testifying in hopes of getting a deal with prosecutors.
In re-direct questions from the prosecution, Black said he understands the charges against him, is waiving his Fifth Amendment protections and has not received promises of any deals in exchange for testimony.
The case is a cause célèbre for many gun rights conservatives, believing Rittenhouse was well within his rights to deadly force that night.
MyPillow Inc. founder Mike Lindell and former "Silver Spoons" child actor Ricky Schroder played key roles in "putting us over the top" in coming up with $2 million for bail for Rittenhouse, his then-attorney Lin Wood said.
The prosecutor, Binger, urged jurors to simply look at the facts of the case.
"In most homicide cases the elements that I need to prove might be a little challenging. But here there's no doubt," he told jurors in opening statements.
"There will be no dispute in this record that the defendant had that gun that night, shot eight bullets, four hit Joseph Rosenbaum, two of them hit an unknown individual, one into Anthony Huber's chest and one into Gaige Grosskreutz's arm."