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Kyle Rittenhouse cleared of murder after shooting two men at a Black Lives Matter protest
19 November 2021, 20:13
A US teenager has been found not guilty of the murder of two men and the attempted murder of a third man after pleading self-defence.
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After three-and-a-half days of deliberation, a jury unanimously found 18-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty on all charges.
The deadly shootings took place in Wisconsin during a night of protests over police violence against black people and sparked a national debate over guns, vigilantism and racial injustice.
Mr Rittenhouse was charged with homicide, attempted homicide and recklessly endangering safety for killing two men and wounding a third with an AR-style semi-automatic rifle in Kenosha, and faced life in prison for the most serious offences.
He was 17 when he went to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, in what he said was an effort to protect property from rioters in the days after a black man, Jacob Blake, was shot by a white Kenosha police officer.
In a fast-moving series of clashes in the streets, Rittenhouse shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, now 28.
During the trial the teenager testified he acted in self-defence, while prosecutors argued he provoked the violence calling him a "wannabe soldier" and a vigilante.
After hearing the verdict, Karen Bloom and John Huber, parents of Anthony Huber who died in the shooting, said: "We are heartbroken and angry that Kyle Rittenhouse was acquitted in his criminal trial for the murder of our son Anthony Huber.
"There was no justice today for Anthony, or for Mr. Rittenhouse's other victims, Joseph Rosenbaum and Gaige Grosskreutz.
"We did not attend the trial because we could not bear to sit in a courtroom and repeatedly watch videos of our son's murder, and because we have been subjected to many hurtful and nasty comments in the past year."
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, who faced criticism over his response to the Kenosha protests in 2020, announced last week that 500 members of the National Guard would stand ready for duty in Kenosha if needed.
Before the jury delivered their verdict, he urged the public to remain calm, writing on Twitter: "Regardless of the outcome in this case, I urge peace in Kenosha and across our state.
"I ask all those who choose to assemble and exercise their First Amendment rights in every community to do so safely and peacefully."