Today Kyle Rittenhouse took the stand to testify in his own defense. I was glad to see it. Commentators always say how risky it is for a criminal defendant to testify, but not testifying is risky too–the overwhelming majority of criminal defendants who don’t testify are convicted. And in my opinion, Rittenhouse had a good story to tell.
Victoria Tate has an account of Rittenhouse’s direct testimony at PJ Media. It sounds as though the testimony was gripping, and he did well, describing the verbal and physical threats and assaults made against him by the three men whom he shot, he says, in self-defense.
Andrew Branca describes the Assistant District Attorney’s cross-examination at Legal Insurrection. It sounds as though the wheels came off: ADA Binger repeatedly behaved improperly, drawing strong rebukes from the judge and the threat of a motion for a mistrial with prejudice (meaning that the state would not be able to re-try Rittenhouse) from the defense.
Based on what I have seen, it appears that the prosecution has more or less collapsed. Assuming the prosecution can limp its way to the finish line, it seems probable that the jury will return a verdict of not guilty. Assuming, of course, that the jurors haven’t been intimidated by thuggish individuals who have tried to video them so they can be identified and attacked if they acquit Rittenhouse.
Like pretty much everything nowadays, opinion on the Rittenhouse prosecution divides along partisan lines. Rasmussen finds that 59% of Democrats think Rittenhouse should be convicted, while only 22% of Republicans and 25% of Independents agree. Conversely, 50% of Republicans say he should be acquitted, with just 20% of Democrats agreeing. It makes a big difference, though, how closely respondents have followed the case. Of those who say they have followed news about the trial “very closely,” 55% say Rittenhouse should be acquitted.
All of this reminds us that over a year ago, Facebook banned any expression of support for Rittenhouse, apparently deeming him a “mass murderer.” Twitter also locked the account of Rittenhouse’s lawyer, and a police officer was fired for donating to his defense. This incident illustrates, like so many others, the danger of social media behemoths shutting down discussion of matters that should be very much up for debate.