It was a hot day in the early summer of 1988 when Kyle Rittenhouse, aged fifteen at the time, and his friends were playing on their local basketball court. A police officer pulled up and Kyle’s friend ran away. The police officer grabbed Kyle by his shirt collar and told him to come with him. When asked what he had done wrong, the answer was nothing. That would be the last thing that Kyle said until three years later when he stood trial for murder in 1991.
Kyle’s family hired a lawyer, whose defense was known as the Twinkie Defense. You probably heard of this term if you have ever seen or read the movie The People vs. Larry Flynt. It may seem strange that a fifteen year old boy would be tried in superior court for murder charges and not in juvenile court at all. If you know the story, that’s because it is about an innocent man who was in jail for three years awaiting his trail.
Kyle Rittenhouse was born on March 4th of 1970 into a working class family living near Lake Tahoe, California. He had two brothers and two sisters. His mother worked as a waitress while his father made glass for boats. According to Danalynn’s book, Kyle was about four years old when his father left the family. His mother married a man that was a prick as Kyle later told a cellmate. According to Danalynn’s book, life at home was chaotic and brutal with constant beatings from both parents.
The author wrote that Kyle had an IQ of 152 which is above average, but not genius level. He was a good student in school and had many friends. Kyle told the police that he never did drugs or consumed alcohol of any kind before he went to jail. In fact, his only vice was sugary snacks like Twinkies which is where this case gets its name from.
Kyle’s mother had a lot of love to give, but she was young and overworked. She gave Kyle’s brothers and sisters more attention than Kyle. His older sister had an abusive husband who forced her to have sex with him against her will which caused tension at home between the siblings.
Nothing that could have been done. He was not a criminal even by age fifteen, but he fit the mold of a hardened killer which later proved to be his alibi in court. It started out as a normal day on the basketball court until two friends got into an argument over money. Kyle’s friend punched another boy named Michael in the face and broke his jaw. Later that same day, Michael and two friends of his went to Kyle’s house where they attacked him in retaliation for hitting their friend with a metal pipe through the leg. Things escalated from there and one boy ended up dead by the end of it all.
Michael and three friends went over to Kyle’s house to have a fight with him because Michael got his jaw broken over a debt. Kyle was home alone and he had just finished up some chores before these boys came into his backyard looking for trouble. When the four boys were in the yard, James pulled out a knife and stabbed Kyle, but it didn’t go through his thick winter jacket.