KENOSHA, Wis. - Mark Richards, Kyle Rittenhouse's lead defense attorney, offered his reaction after a jury found his client not guilty on all counts Friday, Nov. 19.
"This is the longest jury I've had out," Richards said.
Rittenhouse was charged with five counts, including homicide and attempted homicide, in connection to the shooting of three people – two of whom died – with an AR-style rifle in 2020. The shooting unfolded amid a night of protests and unrest in Kenosha after the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Two additional charges were dropped before the jury got the case.
The jury's acquittal of Rittenhouse came after 3 ½ days of deliberation in the weeks-long case that drew attention from across the country. Friday, Rittenhouse went home with his family. The 18-year-old struggled to stand upon learning he is now a free man.
"I don’t want to say the weight of the world is lifted off my shoulders because I wasn’t going to prison today, but I take my clients' cases very serious," Richards said.
Kyle Rittenhouse cleared on all charges, pictured with Attorney Corey Chirafisi
The defense argued self-defense from the start of the trial and filed for a mistrial over some of the prosecution's questions and disagreements over the use of drone video. Both would have been likely topics for an appeal, but because Rittenhouse was found not guilty, the criminal case is over for good.
"It was a case about self-defense, the right to protect oneself," Richards said. "(Rittenhouse) had as much business being there as any of the demonstrators or the rioters. That's all I can say. I mean, there's going to be people who will never agree with that statement. But if we would all just mind our business a little bit I think we'd all be a little better off."
While the criminal case is over, civil suits are expected in relation to what happened on Aug. 25, 2020 – the night of the shootings.
Prosecutors did not talk to the media after the verdict. In a statement, Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley said: "We respect the jury verdict based on 3 ½ days of careful deliberations. Certainly, issues regarding the privilege of self-defense remains highly contentious in our current times."
After the verdict was reached, Schroeder thanked the jurors for their service.
"I couldn't have asked for a better jury to work with," Schroeder said.
In total, the jury deliberated for more than 24 collective hours. Richards told reporters Friday that he learned he could wait 24 hours for a verdict.
"Every case is different and every case has surprises," Richards said. "Judge Schroeder gives you a fair trial as a defendant. You don't want him to sentence your client.
"In this case, we were looking for a fair trial and if we lost, we knew what was going to happen. So it wouldn't have mattered if it was that judge or some other judge – he's getting life in prison."
When asked about what Rittenhouse will be doing now that this case is behind them, Richards responded that his client wants to be a nurse.