KENOSHA, Wis. — The Kyle Rittenhouse jury on Thursday began its third day of deliberations — something that seems almost inconceivable to the social media pontificators who made up their minds about the case more than a year ago.
For many legal experts, however, Kenosha County jurors are working right on schedule.
“I don’t think the length of time says anything about what the jurors are thinking,” veteran Chicago attorney Joe Lopez said. “But it definitely shows that it wasn’t the slam-dunk many people thought it was.”
The jury has sent five notes to the court during their deliberations, including three Wednesday dealing with video evidence. The last one, sent shortly before noon, indicated they hadn’t made a decision on the fatal shooting of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first man killed by Rittenhouse.
“Please prepare Mr. Rosenbaum shooting (event 1),” the note read, before specifically requesting the following:
— FBI aerial video with all PIO’s (persons of interest) marked.
— Drone video
— Zoomed in image still after Mr. Rittenhouse put down the fire extinguisher.
— Full event 1 video in regular and slow motion.
The request was signed by the foreperson, a white woman in her mid-50s who appeared to be taking copious notes during the trial. During the selection process, the soft-spoken woman said she had driven through downtown Kenosha after the unrest to look at the damage. She said it would not influence her decision in the case.
Before asking for the Rosenbaum footage, the forewoman — who is referred to as the presiding juror in court documents — sent a note asking for video of Rittenhouse’s interaction with Gaige Grosskreutz, an armed medic whose right biceps was blown off that night.
“View video starting with Mr. Grosskreutz interview with Mr. Rittenhouse to 10 seconds after Mr. Grosskreutz shooting. In regular and slow motion,” the note read.
The jurors were given everything they requested, except for the still images from the drone footage. The defense has been challenging the validity of the still shot since prosecutors received the drone records midway through trial.
Rittenhouse, then a 17-year-old resident of north suburban Antioch, volunteered to patrol downtown Kenosha in August 2020 amid turmoil surrounding the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man left partially paralyzed after being shot by a white police officer during a domestic disturbance call days earlier. Prosecutors later declined to charge the officer with wrongdoing.
Carrying an AR-15-style rifle that police say a friend illegally purchased for him, Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounded Grosskreutz during the third night of unrest in the city. Rittenhouse is charged with reckless homicide, intentional homicide and attempted intentional homicide related to his actions toward the men, respectively.
Rittenhouse, who faces five felony charges for his actions that night, has pleaded not guilty and said he shot the men in self-defense.
Jurors have been deliberating for more than 16 hours over the past two days, which legal experts said is typical for a case that has 36 pages of jury instructions and five felony charges to consider. The trial featured eight days of testimony, 30 witnesses, and voluminous video evidence.
“You can’t predict a jury and it’s hard to read tea leaves but, as a general guideline ... a day for every week of trial is a decent rule of thumb,” former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer said. “If we’re having this conversation on Friday afternoon, and there’s no verdict, then it’s fair to say there could be some angst in that jury room.”
Based on the jury’s questions so far, Chris Grohman, a white-collar defense attorney and former federal prosecutor, said the panel appears to be on track.
“If there’s been issues, I think you probably would have heard it by now. It sounds like they’re working well together,” Grohman said. “I don’t think it’s going to go on too much longer. “I would expect a verdict.”