COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Two Columbia-based defense attorneys are weighed in Friday on a jury's decision to find Kyle Rittenhouse not guilty of all charges.
One attorney saying the verdict could lead to more gun presence at protests while the other says the verdict could deter further riots and looting.
"I was glad to see the verdict because this was a clear case of lawful self defense by Kyle Rittenhouse," said Jennifer Bukowsky, a criminal defense attorney.
"I am really disappointed and I think it's unfortunate," said David Tyson Smith, a criminal defense attorney and a Missouri state representative for the 45th district. "I'm worried about the the precedent of this decision."
Both attorneys shared some different perspectives after a jury finding a visibly shaken Rittenhouse, not-guilty of all five charges after he shot three people, killing two, during protests in Kenosha, WI after the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Both attorneys said this verdict could affect future protests in the United States and even right here in Missouri.
"I'm concerned it's going to lead to a precedent of vigilante justice in America and further take us down that path," Smith said. "Because when people hear this that he was let go, that he was acquitted, how many other people are going to go to protests and rallies armed, looking for a confrontation?"
"I don't know that this will lead to that because Kyle Rittenhouse and his family went through hell, right?" Bukowsky said. "I don't think this is going to encourage people to put themselves in that situation but people do have a right to defend their own lives - and maybe it'll discourage looting and rioting."
After almost three and a half days of deliberations, the jury reaching a consensus. Both local attorneys saying the verdict sends a message.
"I think that this is a lesson not to rush to judgment on any case that we have," Bukowsky said. "There's good reason that we have due process in this country that we have a right to trial."
"To have these verdicts that basically encourage people to be vigilantes is very problematic, and we need to work together to bring reconciliation and healing and verdicts like this. do just the opposite," Smith said.
By 10 p.m. Friday, there were no reports of any protests in mid-Missouri.