Susan Hughes, the great-aunt of one of the men killed by Kyle Rittenhouse, spoke out about her great-nephew on Weekend TODAY Saturday morning, just a day after a Wisconsin jury acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges.
Hughes is the great-aunt of Anthony Huber, who was 26 when he was shot and killed by Rittenhouse during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in 2020.
During the trial, Rittenhouse's defense lawyer argued that Huber swung a skateboard at Rittenhouse and “tried to take his head off,” shortly before he was shot by the teen.
U.S. & World
Hughes said that her family has struggled with the verdict in Rittenhouse's trial, but thought that the jury made their "best efforts."
"I think the fact that it took four days perhaps gives us some encouragement that at least it was a difficult decision to reach," Hughes said.
She added that because of the long deliberation period — the jury began deliberating on Tuesday and delivered a verdict on Friday afternoon — the verdict came down on Huber's mother's birthday.
"That's a particularly hard blow," Hughes said.
Rittenhouse faced five charges, including intentional homicide, reckless homicide, attempted intentional homicide, and two counts of recklessly endangering safety. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time of the shootings and is now 18.
In a statement, Karen Bloom and John Huber, Huber's parents, said they were "heartbroken" with the acquittal.
“Today’s verdict means there is no accountability for the person who murdered our son,” they said, according to NBC News. “It sends the unacceptable message that armed civilians can show up in any town, incite violence, and then use the danger they have created to justify shooting people in the street.”
Huber’s parents did not attend the trial, saying they "could not bear to sit in a courtroom and repeatedly watch videos of our son's murder."
Hughes said that one particular difficulty the family has faced has been watching Huber and the other victims be thrust into the national spotlight. One major moment in the trial came when the presiding judge told lawyers that Huber and the other two men shot by Rittenhouse could not be called "victims" but could be called "rioters" or "looters."
"None of them deserve the treatment they've received on the wild web, and frankly from some of the national media, who have different political views," Hughes said. "I want Anthony to be remembered as a person who really was just trying to get on with his life after some early difficult years, and was making real, real progress in that regard."
Huber had served two prison terms after pleading guilty to criminal charges in 2012.
Hughes ended her appearance on Weekend TODAY by sharing a story about Huber and his grandmother, saying that she was "tired of all the heaviness" surrounding the trial.
"In some of the photos of Anthony, you see he's wearing a cap and it has the word 'bacon' on it," Hughes began. "When his grandmother was very ill ... Anthony had a marvelous sense of humor ... He asked his grandmother, 'If you believe in reincarnation, what do you want to come back? What animal do you want to be?' And she said 'A warm, fuzzy bunny. I just want to be cuddled in the next life, I don't want any pain.' She asked Anthony what he wanted to be and he looked at her and he said 'Bacon.' ... He said 'I want, for once in my afterlife, to live in a house where people are rich enough to buy bacon.'"
While Rittenhouse was found not guilty of all charges, Huber's family is still involved in legal battles related to his shooting. The family filed a federal civil lawsuit against Kenosha law enforcement in August 2021, alleging that police conspired with armed individuals such as Rittenhouse and "allied themselves were avowed racists."
The federal lawsuit is seeking unspecified damages, according to the Associated Press, and names Kenosha law enforcement officials including the county's sheriff, the city's former and acting police chiefs, and other unnamed officers.
“The police are supposed to serve and protect,” John Huber said in a statement obtained by the AP at the time. “But that’s not what the Kenosha police did. They walked away from their duties and turned over the streets of Kenosha to Kyle Rittenhouse and other armed vigilantes. If they had done their job, my son would still be alive today.”
This story first appeared on TODAY.com. More from TODAY: