Kyle Rittenhouse stepped out in public on Monday and delivered a speech to a friendly crowd at a conservative convention in Phoenix.
Rittenhouse spoke about his recent acquittal on murder charges during his address at AmericaFest, a four-day festival hosted by Turning Point USA.
Donning a blue suit and tie, Rittenhouse walked out on stage to massive cheers from the audience, which largely consisted of high school and college-aged students.
He was joined by a panel that included the group’s founder Charlie Kirk, and conservative commentators Jack Posobiec, Elijah Schaffer and Drew Hernandez.
“Always be humble and look at the positives in life and focus on today and not tomorrow,” Rittenhouse, 18, told the crowd of his experience. “You can only live one day at a time.”
Rittenhouse was acquitted on Nov. 19 on all charges in the shootings that killed two men and injured a third during last year’s civil unrest in Kenosha.
He had been charged with homicide, attempted homicide and reckless endangerment in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz, 27, on Aug. 25, 2020.
The lengthy, two-week trial captivated and divided the nation as his defense attorneys argued that he had acted in self-defense while prosecutors portrayed him as the instigator of the violence, claiming that he “provoked everything” by bringing a rifle to the protests.
If he had been convicted of first degree homicide in Huber’s death, he could have been sentenced to life in prison
“It’s helped me grow a lot, it’s helped me mature,” Rittenhouse said of the stressful experience of the trial. “My mentors who have been in my life … they’ve helped make me the person I am today, so thank you for them.”
He added that faith also played a major role in the experience, telling the panel “I believe God’s been with me every day of the trial, every day since Aug. 25 … I pray to him every single night … I pray for strength to get through whatever happens to me.”
Rittenhouse said there were “really long days” of preparation for trial at his attorney Mark Richards’ home, sometimes for three to four hours at a time. He said he would try to decompress by playing video games like “Call of Duty.”
At a climatic moment during the trial, Rittenhouse and his team made the risky decision of putting him on the stand, during which he broke down in tears recounting the events of the night.
“I wanted to tell my story,” he said when asked why he made the decision to testify. “I wanted to tell the world what happened in Kenosha, the truth, unlike what the prosecution tried to do, and that’s why I took the stand.”
What’s next for Rittenhouse is uncertain, although he teased the audience to “be on the lookout” for a possible lawsuit against media outlets that he feels misconstrued the events surrounding the shooting.
In the meantime, he said he’s “Looking to getting on the mountain to go snowboarding.”