Kyle Rittenhouse’s mother has issued a fresh fundraising appeal to pay for her son’s defence on charges of shooting dead two men and seriously injuring a third during racial justice protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last summer.
Wendy Rittenhouse sent an email on behalf of the Kyle Rittenhouse Defense Fund on Tuesday – the same day that the jury held its first day of deliberations to determine her son’s fate.
The mother of the 18-year-old white man said she was “beyond nervous” about the verdict and claimed her son had been fighting an “extremely uphill battle” to prove his innocence in his homicide trial.
She said legal fees for the month of November are expected to reach around $110,000.
“Both the prosecution and my son Kyle’s defense team have finished their closing arguments and I am beyond nervous,” she wrote in the email, obtained by CNN.
“We have been fighting an extremely uphill battle from the beginning, but with the support of thousands of our fellow Americans we have put up a big fight.”
Back in June, the Kyle Rittenhouse Defense Fund – also known as FreeKyleUSA – announced that $464,111 had been raised since 1 March to help pay for his legal fees.
FreeKyleUSA and The Milo Fund LLC, a fundraiser named after Mr Rittenhouse’s puppy Milo, had processed $362,050 of that money in “case-related expenses”, according to its Twitter account.
FreeKyleUSA was set up by Mr Rittenhouse’s mother under the tagline: “Self-defense is a right, not a privilege.”
During her son’s trial, Ms Rittenhouse has conducted a number of interviews defending her son and arguing he acted in self-defence.
On Sunday she told NBC News that her son armed himself with an AR-15 for protection and that he would have died the night of the shootings if he hadn’t.
"He brung that gun for protection, and to this day if he didn’t have that gun, my son would’ve been dead," she said.
Ms Rittenhouse said she was a “nervous wreck” when he took the stand to testify but thinks he “did a good job”.
Mr Rittenhouse sobbed on the stand as he described the moments leading up to shooting his first victim, with his mother seen breaking down as she watched him in the courtroom.
"I was... a nervous wreck. My stomach was in knots," she said.
"Kyle did a good job. When he broke down, I broke down. The whole family broke down when he was breaking down.
“And I was just so scared for him and knowing, knowing that he’s telling the truth, that’s what he wanted to do, and I stood by him, and I will always stay by him."
The shooter’s mother has also hit out at President Joe Biden, accusing him of “defaming” her son by suggesting he was a “white supremacist”.
In September 2020, Mr Biden posted a video on social media featuring a clip of Mr Rittenhouse carrying his AR-15 during the night of unrest in Kenosha one month earlier.
“There’s no other way to put it: the President of the United States refused to disavow white supremacists on the debate stage last night,” Mr Biden tweeted alongside the video.
He was referring to Mr Trump’s refusal to condemn white supremacists during a presidential debate, where he told the right-wing group the Proud Boys to “stand back and stand by”.
Last week, Ms Rittenhouse said she was “in shock” and was “angry” at his social media post.
“He is not a white supremacist. He is not a racist,” she said of her son in an interview with Fox News.
“I was in shock. I was angry. President Biden don’t know my son, whatsoever,” she said, adding that she felt Mr Biden “did that for the votes”.
On 25 August 2020, a 17-year-old Mr Rittenhouse traveled from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha armed with an AR-15 during protests over the police shooting of Black man Jacob Blake.
That night, he shot and killed two men – Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26 – and wounded a third man, 27-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz.
He is charged as an adult with two counts of first-degree homicide, one count of attempted homicide and recklessly endangering the safety of two other victims.
A misdemeanour charge of possessing a weapon while under the age of 18 was dropped on Monday after the judge granted a defence motion to dismiss to dismiss it.
The jury will resume deliberations on Wednesday morning after going home for the night on Tuesday following more than eight hours of deliberations.
If convicted, Mr Rittenhouse could face life in prison.