High-profile lawyers to defend Antioch teen charged in Kenosha shootings

  • Kyle Rittenhouse walks toward police after shooting three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday night.

    Kyle Rittenhouse walks toward police after shooting three people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on Tuesday night. Video frame grab courtesy of Brendan Gutenschwager

  • A virtual hearing for 17-year-old Antioch resident Kyle Rittenhouse was held Friday morning. Rittenhouse has been charged with murder following shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

    A virtual hearing for 17-year-old Antioch resident Kyle Rittenhouse was held Friday morning. Rittenhouse has been charged with murder following shootings in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Courtesy 19th Judicial Circuit

 
 
Updated 8/28/2020 8:35 PM

Lawyers who have handled numerous high-profile, controversial and political clients and cases say they'll defend the Antioch teen charged in fatal shootings this week in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

In statements on Twitter, attorneys L. Lin Wood and John Pierce said they'll represent 17-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse, who's accused of killing two people and wounding a third during protests that followed the shooting of a Kenosha man by police.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

According to the website for a nonprofit group they formed, the attorneys' client list includes: Nicholas Sandmann, a high school student who sued media organizations last year after a confrontation with protesters in Washington, D.C.; the late Richard Jewell, who was exonerated after being suspected in the bombing at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta; and Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to President Donald Trump.

The lawyers' nonprofit group, the #FightBack Foundation, is collecting donations for Rittenhouse's defense. The foundation's website says the attorneys "bring lawsuits to check the lies of the left."

A different crowdfunding effort for Rittenhouse on givesendgo.com launched by people claiming to be friends of his family had raised nearly $112,000 as of Friday afternoon. Other online fundraising campaigns have been launched but taken down.

Rittenhouse, of the 200 block of Anita Terrace, was arrested Wednesday morning, charged in a warrant with first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.

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The charges come from a series of shootings the night before during unrest in Kenosha. That violence occurred during protests and rioting that began after a police officer shot 29-year-old Jacob Blake seven times in the back Sunday. Blake remains hospitalized in Wisconsin and reportedly is paralyzed from the waist down.

Rittenhouse is accused of using a military-style rifle to shoot a man, then running from the scene and later falling to the street, where he is caught on video firing several shots at people who ran toward him, killing one man and injuring another.

"I just killed somebody," the gunman could be heard saying at one point just before midnight, The Associated Press reported.

Rittenhouse, attorney Pierce said in a statement, "exercised his God-given, Constitutional, common law and statutory law right to self-defense."

Pierce, in the statement, said Rittenhouse worked that day as a lifeguard at a pool in Kenosha then responded to a downtown Kenosha auto dealer who was recruiting people to guard his business. Pierce said Rittenhouse was being chased and attacked when he fired the rounds that struck the three men.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Wood said on Twitter the gun used in the shootings belonged to Rittenhouse's friend who lives in Wisconsin.

"The gun never left the State of Wisconsin," Wood said.

It is unclear whether Rittenhouse drove himself home. He has no Illinois drivers license, the Illinois Secretary of State's office confirmed.

Two weapons were given to police when Rittenhouse surrendered Wednesday morning at the Antioch police station, but Interim Chief Geoff Guttschow didn't say who owned them or who turned them in because of the open investigation.

Guttschow said officers had prior contact with Rittenhouse but nothing that was criminal or "that would be impactful." Guttschow declined to elaborate because of Rittenhouse's age.

Rittenhouse is being held without bond at Lake County's juvenile justice center near Vernon Hills.

During a brief status hearing held remotely Friday morning, public defender Jennifer Snyder requested a 30-day delay so Rittenhouse could prepare for his extradition hearing, a procedure needed to send the teen to Wisconsin to face the charges there.

Associate Lake County Judge Paul Novak set a new hearing for Sept. 25.

Rittenhouse didn't appear during the hearing.

Rittenhouse ultimately has two legal options when it comes to extradition: He can waive his right to an extradition hearing, at which point Wisconsin law enforcement officers would have the authority to take him to Kenosha County. Or, he could agree to a hearing in Lake County on the extradition request from Wisconsin authorities. That would require the issuance of a warrant from Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers to Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker and then eventually to a Lake County judge for a ruling.

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