EXPLAINER: Did Rittenhouse lawyers do enough to prevail?

Kyle Rittenhouse testifies about Gaige Grosskreutz holding a gun toward him during cross examination in his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Kyle Rittenhouse testifies about Gaige Grosskreutz holding a gun toward him during cross examination in his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

When Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand to testify about his actions the night he shot three men on the streets of Kenosha — sobbing and seemingly unable to continue as he approached the critical moment where he shot the first man — it was one of the most compelling moments in his two-week murder trial

KENOSHA, Wisconsin (AP) — Kyle Rittenhouse testifying about the night he shot three men on the streets of Kenosha — sobbing and seemingly unable to continue as he spoke about the first shooting — was among the most compelling moments in his two-week murder trial.

It might also have been the most effective part of the three-day defense case, potentially swaying any jurors inclined toward sympathy for the 18-year-old who has claimed self-defense for killing two men and injuring one.

Prosecutors say the primary cause of the violence was Rittenhouse's decision to go to Kenosha with a rifle in a city wracked by protests after a white police officer shot a Black man, Jacob Blake.

Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, is charged with multiple counts including intentional and reckless homicide, as well as possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor. He and the men he shot are white.

Here is a look at how the presentation went for the defense, which rested its case Thursday:

HOW DID RITTENHOUSE’S TESTIMONY GO?

The defense's most consequential decision was to put Rittenhouse on the stand to let him tell jurors what was going through his mind when he opened fire.

Andrew Branca, a Colorado lawyer who wrote the book “The Law of Self Defense: Principles,” said on his blog about the trial that the decision was “a high-stakes bet by the defense, and one that always has risk of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Defendants claiming self-defense don’t have to testify. But there’s pressure on them to do so since what they were thinking when they used lethal force is so central to determining guilt.

The risk was Rittenhouse would get tripped up, rattled or provoked by aggressive questioning from prosecutors and that he would blurt out something that hurt his case. But for most of his some six hours testifying, he was calm, answering questions politely and succinctly. He didn't wilt or lash back.

Lead prosecutor Thomas Binger pressed Rittenhouse, asking him if it was true that he intended to kill all three men. “I didn’t intend to kill them," Rittenhouse responded. “I intended to stop the people who were attacking me.”

His display of apparent emotion just minutes into his testimony, leading the judge to call a brief recess, may have helped his cause with jurors, some legal experts said.

“There is public debate as to the sincerity of Rittenhouse’s tears,” said Louis J. Shapiro, a Los Angeles lawyer. “If the jury accepts them as genuine, then it will bode well for Rittenhouse.”

Branca, who told The Associated Press previously he thought Rittenhouse should be acquitted, said Rittenhouse's testimony went well for the defense.

WHAT ELSE STOOD OUT ABOUT THE DEFENSE CASE?

The defense achieved a lot before even starting their presentation to jurors. Some witnesses for the state clearly helped the defense.

A stark example was when one of the prosecution's earliest witnesses, videographer Richie McGinniss, described the first man Rittenhouse killed, Joseph Rosenbaum charging Rittenhouse, screaming "F--- you!" and lunging for Rittenhouse's rifle.

It was also prosecutors who entered the extensive video evidence that backed the defense view that Rittenhouse was being chased when he shot Rosenbaum and, moments later, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz. Their video showed Grosskreutz with a gun in his hand as he approached Rittenhouse.

Joe Lopez, a Chicago-based defense attorney, said he didn’t see calling such witnesses as a mistake by prosecutors. He said prosecutors often want to be the ones entering evidence that is unavoidably favorable to the defense rather than leaving it for the defense to do.

WHAT ELSE DID THE DEFENSE ACCOMPLISH?

Since so many key issues were broached and thrashed out in cross-examination during the state’s weeklong case, the defense had less to do.

Besides putting Rittenhouse on the stand for much of Wednesday, the defense also called a series of witnesses in an effort to show he displayed no aggression or ill-intent on the night, and helped to clean graffiti that day and put out fires at night.

With prosecutors trying to focus jurors on the totality of what Rittenhouse did, starting with his decision to come to Kenosha with a gun, the defense tried to steer them toward a micro view, with one defense expert zeroing in Thursday on the 2 minutes, 55 seconds from when Rosenbaum started chasing Rittenhouse.

“Self-defense is the debate that the defense wants the jury having in the jury room,” Shapiro said. “Not the question of why didn’t Rittenhouse mind his own business” and stay away from the protest."

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Find the AP's full coverage of the Rittenhouse trial at https://apnews.com/hub/kyle-rittenhouse and follow Michael Tarm on Twitter at https://twitter.com/mtarm.

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Kyle Rittenhouse and defense attorney Mark Richards talk before the start of his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg/ /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Kyle Rittenhouse and defense attorney Mark Richards talk before the start of his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year.  (Mark Hertzberg/ /Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Kyle Rittenhouse and defense attorney Mark Richards talk before the start of his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg/ /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Caption
Defense attorney Mark Richards waits before calling Kyle Rittenhouse to the witness stand during Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Defense attorney Mark Richards waits before calling Kyle Rittenhouse to the witness stand during Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Defense attorney Mark Richards waits before calling Kyle Rittenhouse to the witness stand during Rittenhouse's trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Caption
Kyle Rittenhouse breaks down on the stand as he testifies about his encounter with the late Joseph Rosenbaum during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Kyle Rittenhouse breaks down on the stand as he testifies about his encounter with the late Joseph Rosenbaum during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021.  Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg  /Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Kyle Rittenhouse breaks down on the stand as he testifies about his encounter with the late Joseph Rosenbaum during his trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Credit: Mark Hertzberg

Caption
Corey Chirafisi, an attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, questions Jacob Marshall, former roommate of the late Gaige Grosskreutz, during the trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

Credit: SEAN KRAJACIC

Corey Chirafisi, an attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, questions Jacob Marshall, former roommate of the late Gaige Grosskreutz, during the trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)
Caption
Corey Chirafisi, an attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, questions Jacob Marshall, former roommate of the late Gaige Grosskreutz, during the trial at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Wednesday, Nov. 10, 2021. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two people and wounding a third during a protest over police brutality in Kenosha, last year. (Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool)

Credit: SEAN KRAJACIC

Credit: SEAN KRAJACIC

Caption
Mark Richards, lead attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, left, with help from Kenosha Police Department Detective Ben Antaramian, right, gets help demonstrating how the Joseph Rosenbaum could have gotten shot in the hand by Kyle Rittenhouse as Dr. Douglas Kelley, a forensic pathologist with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, center, testifies at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg/POOL

Mark Richards, lead attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, left, with help from Kenosha Police Department Detective Ben Antaramian, right, gets help demonstrating how the Joseph Rosenbaum could have gotten shot in the hand by Kyle Rittenhouse as Dr. Douglas Kelley, a forensic pathologist with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, center, testifies at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Mark Richards, lead attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, left, with help from Kenosha Police Department Detective Ben Antaramian, right, gets help demonstrating how the Joseph Rosenbaum could have gotten shot in the hand by Kyle Rittenhouse as Dr. Douglas Kelley, a forensic pathologist with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, center, testifies at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg/POOL

Credit: Mark Hertzberg/POOL

Caption
Mark Richards, lead attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, left, with help from Kenosha Police Department Detective Ben Antaramian, right, gets help demonstrating how the Joseph Rosenbaum could have gotten shot in the hand by Kyle Rittenhouse as Dr. Douglas Kelley, a forensic pathologist with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, center, testifies at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg/POOL

Mark Richards, lead attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, left, with help from Kenosha Police Department Detective Ben Antaramian, right, gets help demonstrating how the Joseph Rosenbaum could have gotten shot in the hand by Kyle Rittenhouse as Dr. Douglas Kelley, a forensic pathologist with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, center, testifies at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)
Caption
Mark Richards, lead attorney for Kyle Rittenhouse, left, with help from Kenosha Police Department Detective Ben Antaramian, right, gets help demonstrating how the Joseph Rosenbaum could have gotten shot in the hand by Kyle Rittenhouse as Dr. Douglas Kelley, a forensic pathologist with the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner's Office, center, testifies at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis., on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021. (Mark Hertzberg /Pool Photo via AP)

Credit: Mark Hertzberg/POOL

Credit: Mark Hertzberg/POOL