The judge presiding over Kyle Rittenhouse’s murder trial in Kenosha, Wisconsin, dropped one allegation of a person under the age of 18 possessing a deadly weapon on Monday, Nov 15.
The misdemeanor offense, which carries a maximum sentence of nine months in jail, was considered one of the most likely charges against Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse was 17 years old when he took an AR-15-style semiautomatic weapon through the streets of Kenosha during a tumultuous rally against racial inequality in the summer of 2020, killing two people and injuring another.
Because the Wisconsin law prohibits the sale of firearms to anybody under the age of 18, Rittenhouse arranged for the rifle to be purchased on his behalf by an older friend.
Additionally, Wisconsin law prevents minors from having firearms. While there is no doubt that Rittenhouse was underage when he went armed to the rally in Kenosha, the defense counsel contended that the youngster may be exonerated under a law exception for hunting based on the rifle’s size.
The statute has a grey area as it allows “hunting and use of firearms by persons under 16 years of age,” and the prohibition of rifles with barrels less than 16 inches long.
Prosecutors pleaded with Judge Bruce Schroeder on Monday to let the jury determine the gun allegation, but the Judge tosses the charge after everybody eventually agreed that Rittenhouse’s rifle was not short-barreled, as the New York Times reported.
The judge then called the jury back into the courtroom for a long, and at times perplexing, discussion of the remaining counts and self-defense statutes.
Rittenhouse, who is now 18 years old, has pleaded not guilty to five felony counts in connection with the shootings, including first-degree intentional murder, which carries a mandatory life sentence.