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Wisconsin Judge Denies Bid to Raise Bail for Protest Shooter

A Wisconsin judge on Thursday denied Kenosha prosecutors’ motion to raise the bail of an 18-year-old accused of shooting three and killing two at a protest last August after he failed to update his address with the court in violation of his bond conditions.

KENOSHA, Wis. (CN) — A Wisconsin judge on Thursday denied Kenosha prosecutors’ motion to raise the bail of an 18-year-old charged with shooting three and killing two at a protest last August after he failed to update his address with the court in violation of his bond conditions.

After a notice regarding Kyle Rittenhouse’s arraignment in early January was returned to the court as undelivered on Jan. 28, prosecutors filed a motion to bring Rittenhouse back into custody, raise his bail by $200,000 and require him to provide the court with the address where he is currently staying so it could be made public. Rittenhouse’s bond conditions mandated he alert the court of any change of address within 48 hours of the change.

Rittenhouse’s attorneys objected to the new bond conditions on the basis that Rittenhouse has been receiving threats, mostly via social media and email, and that making his current address public would endanger him. As a compromise, they gave the court a P.O. box address to be kept under seal.

Prosecutors say Rittenhouse, then 17, crossed state lines from his home in Antioch, Illinois, and shot protesters Gaige Grosskreutz, Anthony Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum with an AR-15 just before midnight in Kenosha on Aug. 25. The three were engaged in protests that raged for several days after a white Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake, a Black man, seven times while responding to a domestic disturbance.

Rosenbaum, 36, and Huber, 26, were killed in the protests while 26-year-old Grosskreutz survived a gunshot wound to his right bicep.

John Huber, the father of Anthony Huber, appeared at the virtual bond hearing before Kenosha County Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder on Thursday with his counsel, Steve Art from the Chicago office of Loevy & Loevy. Huber accused Rittenhouse of “enjoying the media circus” surrounding his case and asked the court, “How would you feel if the killer of your son was able to just walk free?”

Grosskreutz also appeared on Thursday with Kimberly Motley, a prominent civil rights attorney and counsel to Grosskreutz and Rosenbaum’s estate. Motley charged that giving the court his address is a “basic requirement” Rittenhouse should have to adhere to and asked that his bond be doubled to $4 million and that new conditions like electronic monitoring also be put in place.

Rittenhouse posted his $2 million bail in November thanks to massive fundraising efforts by right-wing activists and celebrity sympathizers, including actor Ricky Schroder and MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell. Rittenhouse had allegedly been in Kenosha that night in August in the first place to protect life and property as a self-styled vigilante.

Judge Schroeder previously modified Rittenhouse’s bond in January at prosecutors’ request after video and images emerged of Rittenhouse drinking and fraternizing with admiring patrons at a Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, bar and flashing the “OK” hand signal, which has been co-opted by some white supremacists, hours after his arraignment on Jan. 5. Schroeder subsequently ordered Rittenhouse not to possess or consume alcohol and refrain from knowingly associating with any known militias or hate groups, among other conditions.

The violent events of last summer seemed to weigh heavily on Schroeder, who pointed out during Thursday’s hearing that windows at the Kenosha courthouse are still covered with plywood since being damaged in August. The judge repeatedly admonished those participating in the hearing to not use terms like “victim” before the case had gone to trial and firmly barred any mention of protests surrounding the case, saying he wants a fair trial that “is not going to be decided by demonstrators of one type or another.”

Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger argued that Rittenhouse “needs to be kept on a short leash” and that not only is it unusual for accused murderers to be free on bail without the public knowing where they are, “frankly, this is the latest in a long line of incidents in which the defendant is effectively thumbing his nose at the court’s orders.”

Racine-based attorney Mark Richards, Rittenhouse’s chief counsel, noted that Binger and the DA’s office were already aware Rittenhouse was not staying at his mother’s Antioch address, his client has made every court appearance required of him and continued threats to Rittenhouse’s safety make keeping his address secret a necessity.

Richards called Binger’s argument that not knowing Rittenhouse’s new address puts the new resident at the Antioch address in jeopardy “intellectually dishonest” and affirmed that “we have nothing to fear, the truth will set my client free.”

Rittenhouse’s defense—which until recently included high-profile counsel like Los Angeles civil attorney John Pierce and Atlanta-based defamation lawyer L. Lin Wood—has maintained that he acted in self-defense on the night of the protest shootings. The teen is charged with five felonies including intentional and reckless homicide and could face life in prison if convicted. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

Ultimately, Schroeder did not feel Rittenhouse’s violation of his bond required his bail to be raised and made the case he does not have the authority to issue a warrant for his arrest. The judge offered that the court does not know the location of most people free on bond and found legitimate concerns of making Rittenhouse’s address public.

But at the close of Thursday’s hearing, Schroeder did require Rittenhouse to update the court with his current address, not a P.O. box, which Richards said would be provided by the end of the day.

Rittenhouse has a pretrial conference on March 10 and jury selection for his trial is scheduled for March 29.

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Categories / Criminal, Regional

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