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Teen accused of shooting Kenosha due to Illinois court

CHICAGO – A 17-year-old accused of killing protesters two days after Jacob Blake was shot and killed by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, will return to court on Friday as his lawyers fight efforts to send him to Wisconsin to stand trial on murder charges .

No immediate decision is expected during Kyle Rittenhouse’s scheduled hearing in Lake County, Illinois. At the last Rittenhouse court hearing in late September, Judge Paul Novak gave his lawyers two weeks to prepare the statements and said he would then schedule a hearing on the matter.

Kyle Rittenhouse, left, walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., On Aug.25, 2020, with another armed civilian.Adam Rogan / The Journal Times via AP file

In court documents filed late Thursday, Rittenhouse̵

7;s attorneys said he was acting in self-defense and that extraditing him to the Wisconsin authorities would violate his constitutional rights.

They also argue that Wisconsin prosecutors and the Illinois authorities did not follow the legal technicalities required for extradition. A Kenosha County prosecutor did not immediately respond to an email after Thursday hours regarding the extradition practices.

Extradition is typically a straightforward process, and legal experts have expressed doubts that Rittenhouse’s attorneys could successfully prevent a court from sending him to Wisconsin to face charges there.

His arrest has become a rallying point for some on the right, with a legal defense fund that has attracted millions in donations. But others see Rittenhouse as a domestic terrorist whose presence with a rifle incited the protesters.

The document echoes the previous interpretation of Rittenhouse’s lawyers as a brave patriot who was exercising his right to bear arms during the shooting riots of Blake, who is Black.

Extraditing Rittenhouse, they say, “would mean handing him over to the crowd.”

“Premature and unsupported charges are contributing to unwarranted public condemnation,” the lawyers wrote. “Rittenhouse has been publicly labeled a ‘mass murderer’, a ‘terrorist’, a ‘racist’ and more.”

Rittenhouse was arrested at his home in Antioch, Illinois, a day after prosecutors said he shot and killed two protesters and injured a third during the riots in Kenosha’s streets on Aug.25 for Blake’s shooting.

Rittenhouse, who is white, is charged with intentional first degree murder in the killing of two white protesters and attempted intentional murder in wounding a third. He also faces a criminal charge of possession of firearms by minors for holding a semi-automatic rifle.

Like Rittenhouse, the two men killed and the third wounded were or are white. If convicted of first degree murder, Rittenhouse would be sentenced to life in prison.

Legal experts had questioned what basis Rittenhouse’s lawyers could use to combat his extradition, which is usually an unchallenged step. Mike Nerheim, the Lake County state attorney, said Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker signed a warrant to return Rittenhouse to Wisconsin after a request from Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a fellow Democrat.

The killings occurred during protests on the streets of Kenosha two days after a white police officer shot Blake seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down and causing outrage after the video of the shooting was posted online. A Wisconsin Department of Justice investigation into that shooting is ongoing. The three officers who responded are on administrative leave.

According to prosecutors and court documents, Rittenhouse shot and killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, of Kenosha, after Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, missing it, and tried to snatch his rifle away.

While attempting to escape soon after, Rittenhouse was captured by cell phone video saying “I just killed someone”. According to the complaint filed by prosecutors, someone in the crowd said: “Beat him!” and another shouted: “Take it! Get that guy! “

The video shows that Rittenhouse tripped on the street. While he was on the ground, 26-year-old Anthony Huber from Silver Lake hit him with a skateboard and tried to take his rifle away. Rittenhouse opened fire, killing Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, of West Allis, who was holding a gun.

Rittenhouse’s extradition wouldn’t have been a problem had he been arrested in Kenosha on the night of the shootings. The cellphone video that captured part of the action shows that right after the shootings, Rittenhouse slowly approached a police vehicle with his hands up, only to be passed by the police.

He went back to his home in Illinois and turned himself in soon after. Police later blamed the chaotic conditions for not arresting Rittenhouse on the spot.

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