Attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse ask for the murder case to be tossed after the judge rebuked prosecutors.
Lawyers for a teenager charged with shooting three people amid civil unrest in Wisconsin last year have called for a mistrial.
Kyle Rittenhouse’s defence asked that the case be dismissed after the judge angrily rebuked prosecutors for airing apparently inadmissible evidence.
Rittenhouse, 18, sobbed earlier in court as he took the stand.
He testified that he killed two men and injured a third on 25 August 2020 on the streets of Kenosha in self-defence.
Mr Rittenhouse is facing counts of reckless, intentional and attempted homicide after he fatally shot two Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz, 28.
Riots had erupted on the streets of the city two days earlier, after police shot a black man, Jacob Blake. Mr Rittenhouse had travelled to the city from his home in Illinois and, with a semi-automatic rifle in tow, he said he sought to help protect property from unrest on the streets.
On Wednesday, day seven of the trial, lead prosecutor Thomas Binger and Judge Bruce Schroeder loudly quarrelled in court.
Mr Binger’s line of questioning incurred furious reprimands from Judge Schroeder, who accused him of violating pre-trial rulings on introducing evidence not relevant to the trial.
“You’re an experienced trial lawyer,” shouted the judge. “I don’t know what you’re up to.”
The judge added: “When you say you were acting in good faith, I don’t believe you.”
Defence attorneys argued “prosecutorial overreaching” and called for a mistrial with prejudice.
A successful motion for mistrial with prejudice cannot be appealed by prosecutors.
Judge Schroeder did not rule on the motion on Wednesday, but agreed to take it “under advisement” based on the future behaviour of the prosecution team.
Lead attorney Corey Chirafasi even suggested that prosecutors may have been angling for a mistrial because the case was “going badly” for them.
Taking the stand in a risky move for any defendant in a murder trial, Mr Rittenhouse said: “I didn’t do anything wrong. I defended myself.”
The defendant said he was walking toward a used-car dealer’s forecourt with a fire extinguisher to put out a fire when he heard somebody scream: “Burn in hell!
Video evidence shows the gun-toting teen shouting out “friendly, friendly, friendly” to the crowd.
He said he had heard people shouting “get him” and began running.
“The person that attacked me first threatened to kill me,” he said of Joseph Rosenbaum, the first person he shot.
He told the jury he believed Mr Rosenbaum was carrying a chain with him at one point, though he later learned it was a plastic bag.
The judge called for a break after Mr Rittenhouse burst into tears as he began to describe to the jury the moments before the fatal shootings. His mother was also seen sobbing in the gallery.
Upon his return to the stand, the teen said he had nowhere to run at the time, later adding: “I didn’t intend to kill. I intended to stop the person who was trying to kill me and trying to steal my gun.”
Video from the scene shows the teenager fall to the ground as he is chased. Mr Rittenhouse said it led him to fear for his life as several men converged upon him.
Mr Rittenhouse said he shot and killed Mr Rosenbaum after Mr Rosenbaum laid a hand on his rifle.
He told the court that Mr Huber, the second person he shot, hit him with his skateboard and also tried to grab his rifle.
He also said Mr Grosskreutz, the man he wounded in the arm, had approached him with a pistol pointed at his head.
Mr Grosskreutz testified this week he thought Mr Rittenhouse was an “active shooter” when he drew his own gun and advanced on him.
“I brought the gun for protection but I didn’t think I would have to use the gun in defending myself,” Mr Rittenhouse responded.
Prosecutors argued that Mr Rittenhouse was a vigilante who wanted to kill everyone he shot that evening.
In a sharp cross-examination, prosecutor Thomas Binger contested the teen’s right to possess a rifle and sought to cast doubt on the extent of his medical training.
The legal teams continued to butt heads into the afternoon, as prosecutors continued to raise issues with Mr Rittenhouse’s testimony and accused him of changing his story to fit a narrative.
Mr Rittenhouse said on the stand he was in town because he had seen the destruction caused by the unrest. In particular, he mentioned seeing on social media that a police officer had a brick thrown at his head.
He detailed how he had joined up with other armed civilians to protect a series of local car dealerships, adding the owner “was happy we were there”.
Before the shootings, Mr Rittenhouse claimed, he provided medical assistance to at least two people. He said he had worked as a firefighter and first responder cadet in his hometown, so he was able to administer first aid and basic emergency care.
He also testified that he and others had been moving around to put out fires and clean up graffiti.
The state rested its case on Tuesday. Mr Rittenhouse is the third witness on the stand for the defence and his testimony may be pivotal in deciding his fate.