- Kyle Rittenhouse took the witness stand on Wednesday to testify in his own homicide tria.
- Rittenhouse has pleaded not guilty to fatally shooting two men and injuring a third during protests in Kenosha.
- Early in his testimony, Rittenhouse broke down in tears and began sobbing as he described the moments before the first shooting.
Kyle Rittenhouse broke down in tears on the witness stand Wednesday as he described the moment when he said a man he would go on to fatally shoot “ambushed” him during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin in 2020.
Sobbing, Rittenhouse described feeling “cornered” by Joseph Rosenbaum and another man, Joshua Ziminski, in the moments leading up to the first fatal shooting on August 25, 2020. Kenosha County Judge Bruce Schroeder paused Rittenhouse’s testimony when the 18-year-old appeared unable to speak clearly.
Rittenhouse is charged with fatally shooting two men – Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber – and injuring a third, Gaige Grosskreutz, during a night of protests following the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse has argued he acted in self-defense, and that all three men had chased him.
“I didn’t notice Mr. Rosenbaum until he came out from behind the car and ambushed me,” Rittenhouse testified.
Earlier in his testimony, Rittenhouse said he had not arrived in Kenosha that day to cause trouble. He said the first person he shot, Rosenbaum, had verbally threatened his life twice that evening before the shootings.
He said Rosenbaum, wielding a “steel chain,” had approached him and another armed civilian and “was just mad about something.” Rittenhouse said Rosenbaum screamed, “If I catch any of you fuckers alone, I’m going to fucking kill you.”
Rittenhouse said on a second occasion, Rosenbaum also yelled at a group of people that included him, “I’m going to cut your fucking hearts out and I’m going to kill you,” using the N-word.
Rittenhouse said he was in Kenosha that evening with first aid equipment and was prepared to assist people. He said the owners of a Kenosha car dealership had explicitly given him permission to be on their property.
His account conflicts with the testimony of two brothers who worked at the dealership. Anmol and Sahil Khindri both testified that they never requested any protection for the properties owned by their parents.
Many of the other witnesses presented by prosecutors during the trial offered statements that appeared to bolster Rittenhouse’s claim that he acted in self-defense.
Just before Rittenhouse began testifying, his defense attorney, Mark Richards, told Schroeder that Rittenhouse’s decision to testify was “consistent with the advice of counsel.”
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.