Rittenhouse Won’t Cede Extradition on Wisconsin Killings

Kyle Rittenhouse, at left in backwards cap, walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., at around 11 p.m. on Aug. 25, 2020, with another armed civilian . Less than an hour later, the 17-year-old from Illinois is accused of shooting three people, killing two of them.

WAUKEGAN, Ill. (CN) — Kyle Rittenhouse will challenge his extradition to face homicide charges in Wisconsin over the killing of two protesters and wounding of a third, lawyers for the teenager told an Illinois judge Friday.

Rittenhouse, 17, is accused of carrying an AR-15 across state lines from his home in Antioch, Illinois, and shooting three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, just before midnight on August 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.

After multiple cars and businesses were set ablaze during protests that skewed violent come nightfall, Rittenhouse reportedly joined the fray as a self-styled vigilante to protect life and property.

Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, were killed in the protests on August 25, while 26-year-old Gaige Grosskreutz was shot in the arm but survived. All three had been demonstrating against Blake’s shooting.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation is in the final stages of its investigation into Blake’s shooting, according to a statement released Monday. It expects to soon turn the investigative file over to retired Madison police chief Noble Wray, who will provide analysis of the incident to Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Graveley. The decision of whether to bring charges against the officers involved is Graveley’s.

Rittenhouse has been 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. 

Largely unseen and unheard in the month since his arrest, Rittenhouse spoke only once at his extradition Friday morning at the 19th Judicial Circuit Court.

“Good morning, your honor,” the teen said, dressed in a black jumpsuit and a gray mask, addressing Judge Paul Novak.

Moments later, John Pierce, a partner with Los Angeles-based firm Pierce Bainbridge, spoke on Rittenhouse’s behalf and announced that “we intend to challenge extradition by writ of habeas corpus.”

Assistant Illinois State’s Attorney Ruth Lofthouse pointed out that Illinois Governor J.B. Prtitzker’s warrant for Rittenhouse’s extradition has been received by the local sheriff’s office, but Pierce made clear that he and the rest of Rittenhouse’s high-profile legal team have not yet seen the Wisconsin extradition documents. They want 30 days to review them and do legal research.

With no opposition from Lofthouse, Novak agreed to give Pierce 14 days to review the documents and file all pleadings by 9 a.m. on Friday, Oct. 9, at which point the court will set a schedule for the next hearing date.

Rittenhouse’s defense team features a number of prominent lawyers from across the nation.

One of them is L. Lin Wood, an Atlanta-based attorney specializing in libel and defamation. Wood 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. 

More recently, Wood helped represent Nick Sandmann, one of several Kentucky high school students and supporters of President Donald Trump who brought a number 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.

Pierce’s L.A. firm has represented the likes of former Trump adviser Carter Page and Trump’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani, as well as former presidential candidate and U.S. Congresswoman from Hawaii Tulsi Gabbard, who sued Hillary Clinton earlier this year after Clinton described Gabbard as being groomed by Russia as a third-party candidate for the 2020 election.

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. Pierce also formerly served on the organization’s board but has since stepped down.

According to #FightBack, the group has raised over $2.1 million for Rittenhouse’s defense fund as of Friday.

Both Wood and Pierce have been vocal on Twitter in support of Rittenhouse, with Pierce tweeting earlier this month to share a recording of Rittenhouse thanking his supporters from the Illinois juvenile detention center where he is being held.

“KYLE RITTENHOUSE SPEAKS!” Pierce tweeted. “THIS MUST BE THE TWEET HEARD ‘ROUND THE WORLD!”

Also on Rittenhouse’s legal team are Mark Richards, a partner with the Richards & Dimmer firm in Racine, Wisconsin, and the only Badger State lawyer currently on the team, in addition to Mike Baker, who appeared at the virtual extradition hearing Friday morning from his namesake Chicago firm alongside Pierce.

At the close of Friday’s hearing, Pierce requested Judge Novak allow Rittenhouse’s legal team to bring a laptop along when they visit Rittenhouse so they can review video evidence with him. Novak tabled the motion until Pierce filed a motion outlining the precise rules they want amended, which Pierce indicated would arrive later Friday or Saturday.

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