Kyle Rittenhouse, accused of fatally shooting 2 Kenosha protesters, fights extradition

Midwest

In this screen grab from live stream video, Kyle Rittenhouse appears via video during a hearing at the Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court in Waukegan, Ill., on Sept. 25, 2020, in his case. Rittenhouse is accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wis., is fighting his return to Wisconsin to face homicide charges that could put him in prison for life. (Nineteenth Judicial Circuit Court via AP)

LAKE COUNTY, Ill. (AP) — A 17-year-old in Illinois accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Friday fought his return to Wisconsin to face homicide charges that could put him in prison for life.

Kyle Rittenhouse surrendered to police at his home in Antioch, Illinois, a day after prosecutors say he shot and killed two protesters and injured a third on the streets of Kenosha on Aug. 25. His attorneys have said Rittenhouse acted in self-defense and have portrayed him as a courageous patriot who was exercising his right to bear arms during unrest over the shooting of Blake, who is Black.

Rittenhouse attorney John Pierce said during a hearing Friday that he intends to fight extradition.

Judge Paul Novak gave 14 days for the defense to review papers and file pleadings ahead of an Oct. 9 hearing.

Pierce asked for a month to prepare arguments challenging extradition that he said involve “issues of some complexity, frankly that have not arisen in the country for some time.”

“We intend to challenge extradition by writ of habeas corpus,” Pierce said.

He didn’t provide further details at the hearing about the basis for the challenge. Novak granted two weeks to prepare those arguments and scheduled another hearing for Oct. 9. The delay in returning Rittenhouse to Wisconsin is the second in the case.

A judge postponed a decision on his transfer last month after Rittenhouse’s public defender at the time asked for a delay in the extradition hearing so he had time to hire a private attorney.

Mike Nerheim, the Lake County state’s attorney, said after the hearing that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had signed a warrant to return Rittenhouse to Wisconsin after a request was made by Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a fellow Democrat. Rittenhouse’s attorney asked for a chance to review the warrant, which Nerheim said he had received Friday morning.

Nerheim said he didn’t know on what basis Rittenhouse would challenge extradition.

“We’re ready to proceed,” said Nerheim.

Rittenhouse attended the hearing via a video feed and did not speak, other than to say, “Good morning your honor” to the judge. He wore a blue face mask and a black sweatshirt.

Pierce also requested that he be allowed to bring a laptop into the juvenile detention facility in Vernon Hills where Rittenhouse is being held, despite a ban on electronic equipment, so they could review video evidence together from the night of the shootings. The judge said he would consider it.

Rittenhouse, who is white, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of two white protesters and attempted intentional homicide in the wounding of a third. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of underage firearm possession for wielding a semi-automatic rifle.

If convicted of first-degree homicide, Rittenhouse would be sentenced to life in prison.

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 him, and tried to wrestle his rifle away.

While trying to get away in the immediate aftermath, Rittenhouse was captured on cellphone video saying “I just killed somebody.” According to the complaint filed by prosecutors, someone in the crowd said, “Beat him up!” and another yelled, “Get him! Get that dude!”

Video shows Rittenhouse tripped in the street. As he was on the ground, 26-year-old Anthony Huber, of 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 handgun.

FILE – In this Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 file photo, Kyle Rittenhouse carries a weapon as he walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., during a night of unrest following the weekend police shooting of Jacob Blake. Rittenhouse, a 17-year-old accused of killing two protesters days after Jacob Blake was shot by police in Kenosha, Wisconsin, faces a hearing Friday, Sept. 25, 2020 on whether he should be sent to Wisconsin to stand trial on homicide charges that could put him in prison for life. (Adam Rogan/The Journal Times via AP, File)

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

Rittenhouse’s legal team includes Los Angeles-based Pierce and Lin Wood, a defamation lawyer who represented falsely accused security guard Richard Jewell in the 1996 Olympic Park bombing case in Atlanta and is a lawyer for Sean Hannity, the Fox News host with close ties to President Donald Trump.

Pierce has described Rittenhouse not as a vigilante, but as a model citizen who was cleaning graffiti from a vandalized high school before he received word from a business owner seeking help to protect what was left of his property after rioters burned two of his other buildings.

Pierce and Wood did not respond to messages ahead of Friday’s hearing.

Huber’s partner and others filed a federal lawsuit against Facebook this week, saying it refused to remove a militia group’s call to arms to protect businesses in Kenosha before the Rittenhouse shootings. The lawsuit, which also names Rittenhouse as a defendant, said he may not have traveled the roughly 15 miles from his home to Kenosha had it not been for that Facebook post, though the company said it had evidence to suggest that he followed the militia group’s page or was invited to the event posting.

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Associated Press writer Ed White in Detroit contributed to this report.

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