If you’re in the area, you’re in luck. Kyle Rittenhouse’s homicide trial judge dismissed the misdemeanour gun possession charge the teen faced on Monday after defence lawyers argued that he did not violate the state statute at issue because of his age and the length of the barrel of his semiautomatic rifle.
Last year, after Mr. Rittenhouse was charged with killing two men and wounding another during chaotic demonstrations in Kenosha, Wisconsin, Judge Bruce Schroeder’s ruling on a Wisconsin statute was delivered just before closing statements.
As of this writing, Mr. Rittenhouse remains charged with five felonies, including first-degree intentional murder, which could result in the death penalty. On Tuesday, the jury will begin deliberations.
Mr. Rittenhouse’s defence team has long argued that Wisconsin law does not prohibit him from carrying the military-style semiautomatic rifle on Aug. 25, 2020. The Smith & Wesson M&P 15 he was carrying had a 16-inch barrel, which was a key part of its successful argument.
Mr. Rittenhouse was charged with a misdemeanour for illegally possessing a dangerous weapon as a minor, which carries a relatively light sentence. A law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison says jurors could have settled on the charge if they were unwilling to convict Mr. Rittenhouse on the more serious charges but wanted to find him guilty of something.
According to Mr. Wright, “a jury, perhaps inclined to compromise, will not have the gun charge as an option.” In an email.
An email from Marquette University Law School professor Michael O’Hear suggests that the dismissal of the firearms possession charge could make the jury believe that the prosecution had strayed too far from the facts.
On Monday, Judge Schroeder gave jurors the option of considering lesser charges than the ones Mr. Rittenhouse has faced since the beginning of the trial. Instead of first-degree intentional homicide, jurors could convict him of second-degree intentional homicide.
There are exceptions to Wisconsin’s gun laws for minors under the age of 18, but they are few and far between.
Mr. Rittenhouse’s possession of a gun was illegal, according to prosecutors, and a jury should be asked to decide whether or not he should face criminal charges. Defendants’ attorneys argued that the law prohibiting “possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18” did not apply in this particular case.
The law states that it only applies to minors who are in violation of at least one other law when they have a rifle or shotgun in their possession. People under 16 years old are prohibited from “hunting and using firearms.” Rifles with barrels less than 16 inches long are also prohibited.
At the time of the shootings, Mr. Rittenhouse was 17 years old. Judge threw out the charge after no one in court objected to the gun’s barrel length.