WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CN) — An Illinois judge on Friday ordered a 17-year-old accused of killing two and wounding a third during August protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to be extradited back to the Badger State where he faces multiple homicide charges.
Kyle Rittenhouse is accused of carrying an AR-15 across state lines from his home in Antioch, Illinois, and shooting three people in Kenosha just before midnight on Aug. 25 during protests that had been raging for two days after bystander-recorded footage showed white Kenosha police officers shooting Jacob Blake, a Black man, in the back while responding to a reported domestic incident.
No charges have yet been brought against the officers involved in Blake’s shooting by Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley. The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation has been heading an investigation into the shooting.
As of the latest Wisconsin DOJ update on the investigation from late September, the investigation was in its final stages and the investigative file was soon to be turned over to retired Madison Police Chief Noble Wray, who will provide analysis of the incident to Graveley. The decision of whether to charge the officers involved is Graveley’s.
After multiple cars and businesses were set ablaze during the violent unrest in late August, Rittenhouse reportedly joined the fray as a self-style vigilante to protect life and liberty.
Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, were killed in the protests while 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz was shot in the arm. All three had been demonstrating against Blake’s shooting.
Rittenhouse is charged in Kenosha County Circuit Court with five felonies in connection to the protest shooting, including first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide, as well as a misdemeanor charge for possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor under Wisconsin statutes.
Friday afternoon’s ruling from Judge Paul Novak of Illinois’ 19th Judicial Circuit Court came on the heels of a hearing at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan Friday morning, where Rittenhouse’s lawyers sought to block his extradition due to “fatal defects” in his extradition papers and the parties needled over the technicalities of extradition law.
The 17-year-old’s lawyers originally planned to call witnesses Friday morning, including Rittenhouse’s mother, but ultimately decided against it.
Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller put forth during Friday morning’s arguments that the law unambiguously requires Rittenhouse’s extradition, arguing that blocking his extradition would amount to saying that criminals can simply step over state lines to claim sanctuary.
Both Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers and Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker have issued warrants for the teenager’s extradition.
Rittenhouse’s team of prominent lawyers have dubbed the charges against him a “political prosecution” and his case has become a cause célèbre for some in the nation’s conservative set, including touch-and-go defenses from President Donald Trump.
One of Rittenhouse’s attorneys is L. Lin Wood, an Atlanta-based lawyer specializing in libel and defamation who first entered the national spotlight representing Richard Jewell, a security guard falsely suspected of carrying out a pipe bombing at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta in 1996.
Wood also recently helped represent Nick Sandmann, one of several Kentucky high school students and Trump supporters who brought a number of lawsuits over media portrayal of a viral standoff between them and Native American leaders at the March for Life rally in Washington, D.C. last year.
John Pierce, a partner with the Los Angeles-based firm Pierce Bainbridge, is also on Rittenhouse’s team and appeared at Friday morning’s hearing. His firm has represented the likes of former Trump adviser Carter Page and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Wood is the CEO of the #FightBack Foundation, a right-leaning legal defense outfit whose website states they “fight back for the forgotten America” against intimidation and smears from radical left mobs which has raised more than $2 million for Rittenhouse’s defense fund. Pierce also formerly served on the organization’s board but has since stepped down.
Wood tweeted early Friday afternoon that any adverse ruling in Rittenhouse’s extradition case will be immediately appealed.
It was not readily clear based on Friday’s ruling what the timeline will be for Rittenhouse to be brought back to Kenosha to face his charges.