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The case against Kyle Rittenhouse, who was only 17, was fatal when two protesters were fatally shot and a third wounded on a chaotic night in Kenosha in August 2020.
I recently Wrote the column The sixth count argued that Wisconsin law was based on a virtually and legally unenforceable provision.
I do not understand how the judge allows the count to go to the jury. In fact, I am intrigued as to how prosecutors can indict the provision. This is at least a serious charge of loss, but prosecutors lost more than a mere misdemeanor in the decision.
The sixth count is charged with possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under the age of 18 State law, Minors are barred from such possession and it can constitute a Class A misdemeanor, which carries a sentence of up to nine months in prison, a fine of up to $ 10,000 or both.
The problem is that the provision does not apply to this case face-to-face.
Defendants are guilty of this offense if they have a short-barrel rifle under Section 941.28. Prosecutors, however, did not prove it was a short-barreled weapon. In fact, a police officer testified that it was not. Rittenhouse used the Smith & Wesson MP-15 with an advertising barrel length of 16 inches and an overall length of 36.9 inches. It’s not a small barrel.
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The only way to be punished under this offense is “if a person under 18 years of age has an assault rifle or shotgun or is in violation of Section 941.28 or does not comply with SS. 29.304 and 29.593.”
The defense admitted it was a violation of Rittenhouse Section 29.593, Which requires certification for weapons. However, they do not violate Section 29.304, “Restrictions on hunting and firearms use by persons under 16 years of age.”
As the title suggests, the section makes it illegal for persons under 16 to use firearms. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time and the prosecution did not question that fact.
Judge Schroeder finally dismissed the count on Monday. That is not surprising.
As I argued earlier, if the prosecution obtained a conviction on this count, it would have to face reversal on appeal. But, another blunder by the prosecution.
The prosecution could have determined that the count was invalid by measuring the barrel of a weapon. Instead, it went to trial and told the jury that it would prove this offense, among other things.
Now, after the jury is brought back to the room for instructions and closing arguments, the court has told the jury that there will be no sixth count.
The prosecution is already facing a crisis of credibility and this will only deepen that crisis.
The opening statement is like a verbal agreement with the jury. Judges expect lawyers to make good on what they promised.
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Prosecutors dropped significantly by that mark. He promised that the jury would see a gun-crazed vigilante in a kind of blood-lust operation. It was not embodied. In fact, the prosecution elicited evidence in favor of the defendant.
The jury repeatedly objected to questions of prosecution that they had to leave the room. It is clear that the court is tolerating defense objections.
Now, the jury was told that one of the six counts would be dropped.
The prosecution also lost the default lesser offense on the sixth count. Removal of misconduct adds to the “sticker shock” of any guilty verdict for the jury, which works to the advantage of the defense.
Prosecutors are clearly seeking a compromise and have the right to plead “lesser included offenses.” However, now the cliff is high and daunting to the judges. Even fewer remaining crimes are still serious crimes.
The decision to dismiss the sixth count reiterates the view that the case was over-charged and poorly designed. Instead, engineers may call it a “catastrophic failure” in key supporting or essential aspects.
The trespass on the sixth count captures much of the case. The prosecution pushed the charges within a couple of days of the shootings and then blamed the case more.
The speed and structure of the prosecution clearly satisfied public demand but undermined any final case against Rittenhouse.
Click here to read more by Jonathan Turley