An Illinois judge ruled Friday that a teenager accused of fatally shooting two people and wounding a third in August during a night of unrest in Kenosha, Wis., should be extradited to the Wisconsin city to face homicide charges.
Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, of Antioch, Ill., was in a courtroom hours earlier for a Friday morning court hearing unshackled, wearing a blue button-down shirt, a dark tie and a face mask.
Defense lawyers indicated before the hearing in Waukegan that they would call witnesses, including Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, to try to block his extradition. But they didn’t, instead focusing on the legalities of the case.
A local prosecutor said the law is unambiguous in requiring Rittenhouse’s extradition, saying that blocking his transfer would undermine the justice system.
“You can imagine the chaos if someone can commit a crime and step over the (state borderline) and get sanctuary,” Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller said.
Outside the courthouse, about 20 protesters chanted,” Kyle is a murderer.”
After 45 minutes of arguments, Judge Paul Novak said he would issue a ruling later. Calls and messages to defense lawyers from Fox News were not returned.
In a series of tweets, defense lawyer John Pierce said they planned to appeal the ruling.
“We will be filing his notice of appeal immediately and pursuing Kyle’s righteous cause with swiftness and vigor in the Illinois Court of Appeal,” he wrote. “We will never surrender. Kyle will be set free and cleared of all charges.”
The Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department will pick up Rittenhouse within the next week unless there is an appeal. Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, has signed a warrant calling for Rittenhouse’s extradition.
Attorneys have consistently argued Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense and that extricating him would put him in danger. They also argued that extraditing him would violate his constitutional rights.
In one filing, defense lawyers complained that Rittenhouse was “publicly branded a ‘mass murderer,’ a ‘terrorist,’ a ‘racist,’ and more.” At a hearing in the case in early October, Rittenhouse attorney John Pierce said “this is not a legitimate criminal prosecution, it is a political prosecution.” Defense lawyers also have said his extradition would be akin to turning him “over to the mob.”
Rittenhouse faces charges of first-degree intentional homicide; first-degree reckless homicide; attempted first-degree intentional homicide; possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18; and two counts of first-degree reckless endangerment.
The charges against him stem from a series of alleged shootings on the night of Aug. 25 during unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed.
Before the shootings, Rittenhouse told the Daily Caller’s Richie McGinniss he was there that night to protect a business and also “to help people.”
“If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way,” he told McGinniss. “That’s why I have my rifle because I need to protect, obviously, but I also have my med kit.”
Shortly after 11:30 p.m., Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and 26-year-old Anthony Huber died as a result of the shooting. Gaige Grosskreutz, who was allegedly holding a handgun at the time, was wounded but survived.
Rittenhouse allegedly killed Rosenbaum after he threw a plastic bag at the teen, missing, and tried to take his rifle.
While trying to get away in the immediate aftermath, Rittenhouse was captured on cellphone video saying, “I just killed somebody.” According to a complaint filed by prosecutors, someone in the crowd said, “Beat him up!” and another yelled, “Get him! Get that dude!”
Video of the shooting appears to show Rittenhouse running on the street before tripping and falling to the ground. Huber appears to hit him with a skateboard and tries to take his rifle, according to court documents. Rittenhouse then opened fire.
He was arrested a day later in Antioch, Ill., 10 miles southwest of Kenosha. His attorneys said the teen tried to surrender to Kenosha authorities before returning home. He was charged Aug. 27.
Earlier this month, Illinois prosecutors said they won’t pursue gun charges against him because the weapon allegedly used in the killings was “purchased, stored and used in Wisconsin.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.