One potential juror in the trial of Kyle Rittenhouse wondered out loud during jury selection why anyone would need a “machine gun.” On August 25, 2020, Rittenhouse was carrying a legally owned semi-automatic Smith & Wesson M&P rifle. Another juror expressed how “scared” she was to be so close to where Rittenhouse lived. And still another said she couldn’t be impartial because her family wasn’t impartial. And so went jury selection in the most consequential American self defense case in years.
These people aren’t alone. According to now former Rittenhouse attorney, Robert Barnes, who did pre-trial polling, fully two-thirds of potential jurors in Kenosha believe the 18-year-old is guilty … of something, anything.
A pool of 150 potential jurors was rounded up to hear the case. The cattle call jury selection reportedly ended, according to the AP, out of view of cameras. Twenty jurors — 12 regulars and eight alternates — were expected to be retained and seated to hear the Rittenhouse case. The judge says there’s a 1% chance they could be sequestered.
BREAKING: A jury has been selected for the homicide trial of Kyle Rittenhouse, who shot three people, two fatally, during a protest against racial injustice last year in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Rittenhouse's lawyers plan to argue that he acted in self-defense. https://t.co/i6plqaTVou
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 2, 2021
Opening statements are scheduled to get underway on Tuesday, and the trial is expected to take two weeks or more at the courthouse in Kenosha — the same courthouse rioters attempted to destroy during their violent days of rioting following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man wanted on a warrant for domestic violence and sexual assault.
CNN chyron: pic.twitter.com/dfP3N8OnsQ
— Joe Concha (@JoeConchaTV) August 27, 2020
During jury questioning on Monday, some jurors expressed concern that a certain verdict would hurt “community safety.” Oh, who are we kidding? As Yahoo News reported, several potential jurors were concerned for their personal safety.
“Either way this goes, half the country is upset with you,” one potential juror said. “It’s just scary. I don’t want people to have my name, I don’t want to be seen on TV.”
She added that she took someone else’s car to the court out of fears she might later be identified. Another woman said she feared the same thing, and took a Lyft instead of driving herself to the courthouse.
The Associated Press reported that a couple of the jurors who were selected were gun owners.
One of the jurors is a gun-owning woman with a high school education who said she was so afraid during the protests that she pulled her cars to the back of her house and made sure her doors were locked. She said she went downtown in the aftermath and cried.
Another woman chosen is a special education teacher who expressed anxiety about being on the jury: “I figure either way this goes you’re going to have half the country upset with you and they react poorly.”
Another juror said he owns a gun and has it for “home defense.”
One juror is a pharmacist who said that she was robbed at gunpoint in 2012 but that it would have no effect on her ability to weigh the evidence in this case.
As PJ Media reported, Rittenhouse is accused of killing two men who attacked him and wounded a third who pointed a gun at him during riots on August 25, 2020. Rittenhouse and other men responded to a call to keep safe businesses that had been targeted by rioters the two previous nights.
Rittenhouse was targeted by one of the mob when the then-17-year-old grabbed a fire extinguisher to apparently help put out a flaming dumpster allegedly being wheeled toward a gas station. The man, just released from jail or a mental facility, chased Rittenhouse and tried to jump him from behind. Rittenhouse, armed with his M&P rifle shot Joseph Rosenbaum.
Use of force expert Attorney Andrew Branca says it’s one of the most clear-cut cases of self-defense he’s ever seen.
If Rittenhouse is convicted, he could go to prison for the rest of his life for the deaths of two people and the wounding of a third man during the notorious Kenosha “fiery, but mostly peaceful” riots, as CNN dubbed them.