(Headline USA) A judge postponed a decision Friday on whether a 17-year-old should be returned to Wisconsin to face charges in the killing of two people on the streets of Kenosha during unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
The Illinois judge granted Kyle Rittenhouse’s request to delay the extradition hearing to Sept. 25 during a brief hearing that was streamed online. Rittenhouse did not appear.
Blake’s shooting — which left him paralyzed and was caught on cellphone video — sparked several nights of protests in Kenosha, making it the latest focal point a series of riots over alleged police abuse and racial injustice that has gripped the country since the death of George Floyd while in the custody of Minneapolis police. The Wisconsin Senate will hold a special session Monday to address a package of police reform measures.
On Tuesday, the third night of those protests, Rittenhouse, a teen who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, was caught on cellphone video as he walked Kenosha’s streets with other armed civilians, saying he was protecting businesses from vandalism. Prosecutors have accused him of killing two men who tried to disarm him and wounding a third. His lawyers have argued he was acting in self-defense.
Rittenhouse was taken into custody on Wednesday in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, about 15 miles from Kenosha. He would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree homicide, the most serious charge. Under Wisconsin law, anyone 17 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.
Assistant public defender Jennifer Snyder, who represented Rittenhouse, asked for a delay in the extradition hearing, so her client would have time to hire a private attorney. She said Rittenhouse had spoken by phone with his mother since his arrest.
Lee Filas, spokesman for the Lake County, Illinois, state’s attorney, declined to comment on whether other charges were being considered for anyone who may have acted as an accomplice to Rittenhouse.
According to the criminal complaint, Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, followed Rittenhouse into a used car lot, where he threw a plastic bag at the teen and attempted to take his weapon. The medical examiner found that Rosenbaum was shot in the groin, back and hand. He also suffered a superficial wound to his left thigh and a graze wound to his forehead.
Rittenhouse then ran down the street and was chased by several people who shouted that he had shot someone before he tripped and fell, according to the complaint and video footage. Anthony Huber, 26, was shot in the chest after apparently trying to wrest the gun from Rittenhouse, according to the complaint.
Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, who appeared to be holding a gun himself, was then shot in the left arm after approaching Rittenhouse, the complaint said.
Another Rittenhouse attorney, Lin Wood, said Thursday that the teenager was acting in self-defense.
“From my standpoint, it’s important that the message be clear to other Americans who are attacked that there will be legal resources available in the event false charges are brought against them,” he said. “Americans should never be deterred from exercising their right of self-defense.”
The weapon Rittenhouse was carrying belonged to a friend, according to a tweet from Wood on Friday.
Wisconsin allows gun owners to openly carry in public, but a person under 18 can’t legally possess or carry a firearm unless that person is hunting or target practicing with an adult or in the military.
A self-described Christian fundraising site, GiveSendGo, said on Friday it has raised more than $100,000 for Rittenhouse’s defense. Wood also said a legal defense fund had been set up for Rittenhouse, although it was unclear whether it was the same as GiveSendGo.
GoFundMe, one of the best-known crowdfunding sites, shut down an attempt fundraiser for Rittenhouse. The site has been used to raise thousands of dollars to bail out Antifa and anarchist rioters.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.