Just because a frat party fell apart, doesn’t mean someone gets off with manslaughter

Cee Lo Green was on American Idol, Friday night, and his band, the Lonely Island, was on a world tour, just weeks after his latest Grammy win for best rap/sung collaboration with Frank Ocean. Today, a prosecutor confirmed what had been a secret story for two years: That Kyle Rittenhouse, also known as “Kenny Monster,” had beaten two women so badly and so fast that one died.

But just because a lawsuit, a federal lawsuit, may have been avoided doesn’t mean Mr. Rittenhouse will escape the sort of reputational damage that he first faced — a phase, our report notes, that lasted a considerable amount of time.

Mr. Rittenhouse told police officers the night he killed Ashtone Broussard and another man that he had been drinking and did not hit either woman with a shovel or, as some reports reported at the time, the garage door.

But a federal lawsuit and the indictment now hint at more sinister factors involved. The woman Mr. Rittenhouse said he killed was Mr. Broussard’s on-again, off-again girlfriend, Chrissy Lee Poliskey. His other victim was another on-again, off-again girlfriend, Brynn Cameron.

“I shot her because she bit me,” Mr. Rittenhouse told police, according to a New York Times article from January 2016. In a deposition given a week later, Mr. Rittenhouse said the only way to kill someone is to “stab them in the face,” a description that police found to be consistent with the injuries he said she’d suffered, according to that Times report.

As it turned out, the only reason Mr. Rittenhouse had to bring the shovel was so he could scoop it out of the road, out of the debris left when his truck had flipped over and to put the shovel back in the man’s face. But it doesn’t mean Mr. Rittenhouse didn’t need it.

The federal lawsuit doesn’t specify how much Ms. Poliskey’s family is seeking, but it doesn’t appear that American Media Inc., the company that publishes The National Enquirer and Star, would accept that offer. In late 2015, according to an A.M.I. filing in Manhattan federal court, the media company placed a $1 million bounty on Mr. Rittenhouse’s head.

The bounty, according to the filing, was accompanied by a letter stating that Mr. Rittenhouse “cannot become a positive role model and that the media and the world can therefore elect to engage their audience in a discussion regarding the possibilities and consequences of which…. This is an attempt to determine, is it OK to see someone as a negative role model?”

About a year later, the $1 million bounty was officially withdrawn.

Mr. Rittenhouse was indicted Monday on two counts of first-degree intentional homicide. This plea arrangement, in place for two years now, essentially ends the case with some sentences of no more than 35 years and possibly no more than 25.

Mr. Rittenhouse is also due in court May 24 for an unrelated criminal case in Texas.

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