Kyle Rittenhouse began sobbing uncontrollably while testifying at his own trial Wednesday morning. The Illinois teenager became so emotional that Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder decided to call for a short break so that the defendant could gather his emotions.
Rittenhouse was describing the moments before firing the shots that killed Joseph Rosenbaum the night of Aug. 25, 2020, when the emotional breakdown occurred.
The teenager is facing multiple felony murder charges for fatally shooting two men and wounding another during Black Lives Matter riots in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer. But during his testimony Wednesday, Rittenhouse argued that he was present at the riots only to help people, not to seek violence.
Seconds before breaking down in tears, he described being "cornered" by Rosenbaum and another individual and saying, "that's when I [ran]."
Upon returning from the short break and gathering himself, Rittenhouse resumed his retelling of events, informing the jury that he heard another individual, identified as Joshua Ziminski, tell Rosenbaum to "get him and kill him."
Rittenhouse then testified to being chased by Rosenbaum, who soon caught up to him and at one point, according to Rittenhouse, "put his hand on the barrel of my gun." He testified that he heard a gunshot go off behind him and that Rosenbaum lunged at him, prompting him to fire four times.
Rittenhouse had recalled earlier in his testimony that at two previous points during the night of Aug. 25, Rosenbaum had threatened to kill him.
After firing the shots, Rittenhouse testified that he briefly attempted to treat Rosenbaum's wounds but was forced to flee the area as a "mob" pursued him. As he allegedly ran to turn himself into police, he said, "The next thing I remember is Anthony Huber striking me in the head with a skateboard."
Soon after, Rittenhouse said, he fell while running away from the crowd. While on his back, someone allegedly kicked him in the head and Huber proceeded to hit him a second time with a skateboard and attempt to grab his gun — at which point Rittenhouse said he fired one shot.
Moments later, Rittenhouse recalled that Gaige Grosskreutz lunged at him with his pistol drawn, prompting the defendant to fire at Grosskreutz, striking him in the arm. Grosskreutz, who survived the gunshot, testified on Monday that he pointed a gun at Rittenhouse before Rittenhouse fired at him.
Video footage of the incidents seen by the public appears to back up Rittenhouse's testimony. His legal team has argued that their client's actions that night, though tragic, were taken in self-defense.
In addition to facing examination by his own defense team, Rittenhouse is set to face cross-examination by the prosecution Wednesday afternoon.