KENOSHA, Wis. — As the jury in the Kyle Rittenhouse case works to come up with a verdict, legal experts warn there is a possibility they might deadlock. They say it is possible for the jury to deadlock on some of the charges and a judge would declare a mistrial only for the counts the jury cannot agree on. The rest of the verdict would stand.
Since around 9:30 a.m. Tuesday, a jury of 12 men and women have worked inside the Kenosha County Courthouse to determine the fate of Rittenhouse. That's no easy task according to University of Wisconsin Madison law professor Keith Findley.
“This is a complex case with difficult questions that they have to answer on multiple counts. It is a big job,” said Findley.
Rittenhouse is accused of killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and seriously wounding Gaige Grosskreutz during protests sparked by the Jacob Blake shooting last summer. Rittenhouse admitted to the killings but says he shot in self defense. The state argues Rittenhouse provoked the violence.
“Most juries do reach a unanimous verdict one way or another,” said Findley. “Most juries get to the point of unanimity. When they don’t it constitutes a mistrial because it is a hung jury.”
A hung jury is rare. A study by the National Center for State Courts from 2002 found that it is more common that a jury deadlocks on one count versus all the counts. NCSC found in 13 percent of the cases the juries have hung on one count versus 8 percent of juries hanging on all the counts. When it comes to what a jury usually deadlocks on, NCSC found in 10 percent of cases it is usually the most serious charge. However, Findley warns this case is unique.
“I would not say there's a usual to it. I mean every case could be different. Particularly in a case like this, where the first killing of Mr. Rosenbaum isn't even the most serious charge because that's a reckless homicide charge, not a first degree intentional homicide charge,” said Findley.
First degree intentional homicide is the charge for the second shooting, of Anthony Huber. There is also an attempted first degree intentional homicide charge, plus the jury was given lesser charges to consider in place of that. So when it comes to predicting the verdict, Findley says do not read anything into how long it takes.
“Who knows. They could reach a verdict on any of them, they get deadlock on any of them. I don't know that we can predict any pattern here,” said Findley.
If the jury deadlocks on one charge, the prosecution would have the chance to retry the case only for that charge. The rest of the verdicts would stand.