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What we know about jury deliberations in Kyle Rittenhouse's homicide trial

CNN logo CNN 11/18/2021 By Eric Levenson and Brad Parks, CNN
Kyle Rittenhouse pulls numbers of jurors out of a tumbler during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Nov. 16,(Sean Krajacic/Kenosha News/AP/Pool © Sean Krajacic/Kenosha News/AP/Pool Kyle Rittenhouse pulls numbers of jurors out of a tumbler during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Nov. 16,(Sean Krajacic/Kenosha News/AP/Pool

A group of 12 jurors began deliberating Tuesday morning on five felony charges in Kyle Rittenhouse's homicide trial in connection to last year's shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

The jury deliberated for about 23 hours combined on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Jurors concluded their first day of deliberations just before 6 p.m. CT. They deliberated from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday.

How long the jurors deliberate is almost entirely up to them.

Here's what we know about the jury and their deliberations in the case as we await a coming verdict.

What are the charges?

The charges stem from the chaotic unrest last year in the wake of the Kenosha Police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man.

Amid unrest and instances of rioting in Kenosha, Rittenhouse, 17 at the time, took an AR-15-style rifle and joined up with a group of other armed people in the city on August 25, 2020.

There, Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum -- who was chasing the teenager and threw a plastic bag at him -- and then tried to flee the area. A crowd of people pursued the teenager, and Rittenhouse shot at an unknown man who kicked him; fatally shot Anthony Huber, who had hit him with a skateboard; and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, who was armed with a pistol.

The prosecution argued Rittenhouse provoked the incident by pointing his weapon at Rosenbaum, while Rittenhouse testified that he shot the men in self-defense.

Rittenhouse, now 18, faces one count for each of the four people in those incidents, as well as a count for allegedly endangering a journalist who was standing not far behind Rosenbaum.

In all, he is charged with five felonies: first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety. Jurors are also able to consider lesser offenses for two of the five counts.

The most severe charge among those is first-degree intentional homicide for killing Huber. The charge comes with a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted.

A misdemeanor weapons possession charge and a non-criminal curfew violation were dismissed by Judge Bruce Schroeder prior to deliberations.

Who is on the jury?

A group of 20 people -- 11 women and nine men -- were initially selected to serve on the jury on November 1 from a group of 179 prospective jurors. The jury selection consisted of just one day of voir dire in court without the use of background questionnaires.

Two people were dismissed from the jury during the course of the trial. One juror, a middle-aged man, was dismissed for telling a joke to a deputy about the police shooting of Blake, an incident that earned a rebuke from the judge. Another juror, a pregnant woman, was dismissed after experiencing discomfort and requesting to be dismissed, the judge said.

Eighteen jurors thus sat through the entirety of the two-week trial. On Tuesday morning, six of them were dismissed via a random drawing in which Rittenhouse himself selected juror numbers out of a tumbler.

The remaining 12 jurors are made up of five men and seven women, according to a pool reporter in court. The alternate jurors who were dismissed were asked to remain at the courthouse while the jury deliberates the case.

Where are they deliberating?

Jurors arrived to the courtroom at 9 a.m. CT Tuesday and began deliberating shortly thereafter.

During jury selection, Schroeder told prospective jurors said that there was "less than a 1 percent chance" that they would be sequestered, though he did not rule it out.

Each day, the jury meets at a single location and then rides to court on a bus that has its windows covered so that jurors do not see any signs or political messages outside the court, Schroeder said.

On Wednesday evening, a man driving behind the jury bus ran a red light and was pulled over by police, the judge said in court Thursday. The man told police he was a producer for MSNBC and had been instructed by his boss to follow the jury bus, according to Schroeder. The judge called the incident an "extremely serious matter" and banned MSNBC from the courtroom.

Kenosha Police said the person was briefly taken into custody and was issued several traffic citations. An NBC News spokesperson confirmed that a freelance employee received a traffic citation near the jury bus and said he never intended to contact or photograph jurors.

How long will they deliberate?

The jurors will deliberate until they come to a unanimous decision on each of the five charges. This process can take hours, days or even weeks. It's not clear how late into the night this jury will deliberate each day.

Judge Schroeder said he will not put his own time restrictions on how late they go and noted that he likes to take a vote among jurors.

The verdict must be unanimous. If the jurors deliberate for long enough and cannot reach a unanimous decision on one or more of the counts, the judge can declare a mistrial. This is what's generally known as a "hung jury."

What questions have they asked?

Jurors may send notes to the court with questions about the law, about the evidence or even just logistics.

Shortly after beginning deliberations Tuesday, the jurors asked the judge for extra copies of the 36-page jury instructions. They initially asked for extra copies of pages 1 through 6 and later asked for pages 7 to 36, according to a pool reporter in court.

On Wednesday, the jurors asked the court about how to go about rewatching video evidence in the case. The jurors then were allowed to rewatch a series of videos from the trial showing different angles of the shootings.

How will we know there's a verdict?

The jurors will alert the court that there is a verdict, and the court will alert the media via email. The verdict will then be read aloud in court.

The judge said there will be a substantial amount of warning time between when a verdict is reached and when it will be read. He declined to specify how long but said, "You probably could make it up from Chicago in time, unless it was a Friday night." Chicago is just over an hour drive from Kenosha.

Kyle Rittenhouse reaches into the tumbler to pull out a juror number on Tuesday. © Pool Kyle Rittenhouse reaches into the tumbler to pull out a juror number on Tuesday.
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