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Quad-City reactions to Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal mixed
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Quad-City reactions to Kyle Rittenhouse acquittal mixed

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Kenosha Protest Shootings

Kyle Rittenhouse is comforted by his lawyer after being acquitted of all charges Friday at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis.

People across the United States have been waiting anxiously this week for the verdict in the Kyle Rittenhouse trial in Wisconsin. On Friday afternoon that verdict was delivered: not guilty.

Rittenhouse, 18, of Antioch, Ill., was accused of intentional homicide, reckless homicide and recklessly endangering safety after he shot three men, killing two and wounding another, during a night of unrest in Kenosha, Wis., following the shooting of Jacob Blake, 29, a Black man, shot and paralyzed by a white police officer.

Rittenhouse, then 17, told the jury he traveled to Kenosha to provide protection to businesses. 

Reactions to the verdict have been mixed across the United States, and the Quad-Cities is no exception. 

"I've always seen it as a rather clear case," Davenport civil rights and gun rights activist Eric Puryear said. Puryear described Rittenhouse as "somebody who was actively looking to find a way to oppose protesters."

Puryear fights for every person's right to own a gun to protect themselves, he said, but thinks that right comes with the responsibility to not go looking for violent situations. Puryear believes that is what Rittenhouse did.

"I'm certainly not cheering for Mr. Rittenhouse," Puryear said.

Jeanelle Westrom, owner of Davenport Guns and member of the Board of Governors of the National Shooting Sports Foundation, said she didn't see the case so cut-and-dried.

Westrom said as she watched the trial she had no predictions about whether Rittenhouse would be found guilty or not on the homicide charges. The only charge she thought he would be convicted of was gun possession by a minor, but that was dropped by the judge Monday, based on a stipulation in the law about the length of guns minors are allowed to carry

"I was not in that courtroom. I don't know what all was shown," Westrom said. "I don't know what all the testimony was, and I haven't seen all the video that they were showing, so I'm going to have to trust that these 12 random people made the best decision that they could with the information they knew."

Illinois State University Professor and Director of Legal Studies Tom McClure said he believed the verdict would be not guilty, solely based on the length of the jury deliberations.

"(Three days of deliberation) is really a positive sign for the defense," McClure said. "A long deliberation suggests there is doubt in the minds of the jury."

A not-guilty verdict means Rittenhouse can't be retried because of double jeopardy laws, McClure said. The defense had filed a motion for a mistrial, which would have allowed the state to bring Rittenhouse to trial again. However, Schroeder decided to delay a ruling on the mistrial motion until after the jury had given a verdict. 

"The judge did what I would have done," McClure said. "Now the judge doesn't have to act on that."

McClure said he didn't believe the defense or the prosecution would have really been helped by a mistrial. 

Reporter Conner Wood of The Pantagraph contributed to this story.


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