CHICAGO (CBS/AP) — A Lake County judge will hear arguments at the end of the month on Kyle Rittenhouse’s bid to avoid extradition to Wisconsin to face murder charges in the shooting deaths of two protesters in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse was wearing a mask as he appeared via video stream from the Lake County juvenile detention center as Lake County Judge Paul Novak scheduled arguments on extradition for Oct. 30, despite prosecutors saying they would be ready sooner.
“The law is pretty clear cut on this,” Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller said. “This case has been dragging on now, we’re already into October. … We want a hearing as soon as possible.”
Rittenhouse, 17, is charged with shooting three people with an AR-15 rifle on Aug. 25, during a night of widespread civil unrest in Kenosha days after white Kenosha Police Officer Rusten Sheskey shot 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake in the back. Rittenhouse is charged as an adult with two counts of first degree homicide and one count of attempted homicide.
His attorneys have filed a petition arguing extradition would violate his constitutional rights, claiming video of the shooting clearly shows he was acting in self-defense, and that he would be in danger if he were held in an adult jail.
They also argued Wisconsin prosecutors and Illinois authorities didn’t follow legal technicalities required for extradition. Angelina Gabriele, Kenosha County’s deputy district attorney, said Friday the county’s documents “are in compliance with all legal requirements and their other claims do not have any legal merit.”
Prosecutors asked for a hearing on extradition as soon as possible, saying they could respond to defense attorneys’ petition — filed Thursday — within three days. But defense attorney John Pierce said there was “no reason to rush” and questioned Wisconsin prosecutors’ motivation for pursuing the charges.
“This is a very unique, extraordinary situation,” Pierce said. “There is a massive amount of video evidence that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt this is not a legitimate criminal prosecution, it is a political prosecution.”
Novak gave prosecutors until Oct. 15 to respond to the defense’s petition, and scheduled an Oct. 30 hearing on the petition fighting extradition.
Rittenhouse is being held without bail at the Lake County juvenile detention center. The 17-year-old from Antioch was arrested the day after the shooting.
Extradition is typically a straightforward process, and legal experts have expressed doubt that Rittenhouse’s attorneys could successfully prevent a court from sending him to Wisconsin to face charges there.
His arrest has become a rallying point for some on the right, with a legal defense fund that has attracted millions in donations. But others see Rittenhouse as a domestic terrorist whose presence with a rifle incited the protesters.
The petition seeking to block extradition echoes attorneys’ previous portrayal of Rittenhouse as a courageous patriot who was exercising his right to bear arms during unrest over the shooting of Blake, who is Black.
Extraditing Rittenhouse, they claim, “would be to turn him over to the mob.”
“The premature and unsupported charges are contributing to unwarranted public condemnation,” attorneys wrote. “Rittenhouse has been publicly branded a ‘mass murderer,’ a ‘terrorist,’ a ‘racist,’ and more.”
Rittenhouse surrendered to police in his hometown of Antioch, Illinois, a day after prosecutors say he shot and killed two protesters and injured a third during unrest on the streets of Kenosha on Aug. 25 over Blake’s shooting.
Rittenhouse, who is white, is charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the killing of two white protesters and attempted intentional homicide in the wounding of a third. He also faces a misdemeanor charge of underage firearm possession for wielding a semi-automatic rifle.
Like Rittenhouse, the two men killed and the third man wounded were or are white. If convicted of first-degree homicide, Rittenhouse would be sentenced to life in prison.
Legal experts had questioned what basis Rittenhouse’s attorneys could use to fight his extradition, which is usually an uncontested step. Mike Nerheim, the Lake County state’s attorney, has said that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a warrant to return Rittenhouse to Wisconsin after a request from Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a fellow Democrat.
The killings happened amid protests on Kenosha’s streets two days after a white police officer shot Blake seven times in the back, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down and sparking outrage after video of the shooting was posted online. A Wisconsin Department of Justice investigation into that shooting is ongoing. The three responding officers are on administrative leave.
According to prosecutors and court documents, Rittenhouse shot and killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, of Kenosha, after Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, missing him, and tried to wrestle his rifle away.
While trying to get away in the immediate aftermath, Rittenhouse was captured on cellphone video saying “I just killed somebody.” According to the complaint filed by prosecutors, someone in the crowd said, “Beat him up!” and another yelled, “Get him! Get that dude!”
Video shows that Rittenhouse tripped in the street. As he was on the ground, 26-year-old Anthony Huber, of Silver Lake, hit him with a skateboard and tried to take his rifle away. Rittenhouse opened fire, killing Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, of West Allis, who was holding a handgun.
Rittenhouse’s extradition would not be an issue if he had been arrested in Kenosha the night of the shootings. Cellphone video that captured some of the action shows that right after the shootings, Rittenhouse walked slowly toward a police vehicle with his hands up, only to be waved through by police.
He returned to his Illinois home and turned himself in soon after. Police later blamed the chaotic conditions for why they didn’t arrest Rittenhouse at the scene.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)