Kyle Rittenhouse extradited to Wisconsin after judge's ruling; records show friend bought rifle for him
Antioch teen Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during civil unrest in Kenosha, was moved to Wisconsin Friday after a Lake County judge's ruling cleared the way for his extradition.
Also, records released Friday show an 18-year-old friend, at Rittenhouse's request in April, bought the assault rifle Rittenhouse used in the shooting because Rittenhouse wasn't old enough to legally buy the rifle himself.
Minutes after the judge's ruling was published Friday, the 17-year-old was driven by Lake County sheriff's deputies to the Wisconsin border, where he was officially transferred to Kenosha County authorities at 3:45 p.m., according to Sgt. Christopher Covelli, Lake County sheriff's spokesman.
Lake County Judge Paul Novak shared his ruling in a six-page document Friday afternoon after an in-person morning hearing attended by Rittenhouse at the Waukegan courthouse.
Novak disagreed with the argument from Rittenhouse's lawyers, who said their client should be freed because of an issue with the extradition paperwork.
Rittenhouse attorney John Pierce said Friday morning there was not sufficient evidence that the criminal complaint document, which charges Rittenhouse with the crimes, was sworn to before a magistrate as required by law.
"For today, this Illinois child must go free," Pierce argued.
Novak disagreed, writing in his opinion that even if the court were to find the complaint was not made before a magistrate, the argument made by Rittenhouse's lawyers would fail because of another document provided by prosecutors, an affidavit of probable cause that "clearly satisfies all the requirements."
Pierce vowed on Twitter to keep fighting for Rittenhouse.
"We will never surrender. Kyle will be set free and cleared of all charges," Pierce tweeted. "He is grateful to you all and asks for your continued prayers. God Bless Kyle Rittenhouse and the USA."
Pierce said he would be filing an appeal of the judge's ruling.
Rittenhouse appeared at the hearing in dress clothes and a gray face mask. He faces first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and other charges in the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz. The shootings took place Aug. 25, two days after Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake, 29, in the back.
Authorities say Rittenhouse shot and killed Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, after Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, missing him, and then tried to wrestle his rifle away.
Cellphone video captured Rittenhouse saying, "I just killed somebody." Prosecutors' complaint indicated someone in the crowd said "beat him up" and another yelled, "Get him! Get that dude!"
Video shows Rittenhouse tripped and, while on the ground, Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, hit him with a skateboard and tried to take his rifle. Rittenhouse opened fire, killing Huber and wounding Grosskreutz, of West Allis, who was holding a handgun.
During an earlier hearing, Pierce argued his client acted in self-defense while exercising his right to bear arms.
Friend bought rifle
Police records made public Friday and obtained by The Washington Post, among other media, show Rittenhouse used an assault rifle that an 18-year-old friend had bought for him.
The newly released police records contain details of Rittenhouse's surrender as well as of statements he gave to police. He grew emotional in the lobby of the police station, saying he had "ended a man's life," according to the records.
"I shot two White kids," the records quote him as saying in the lobby.
Rittenhouse and the friend who bought him the gun each told police they had been hired by a local business owner to provide security that night, the Post reported. The records were released after the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel filed a lawsuit seeking them. The Washington Post obtained them through a public records request.
The friend sometimes stays with his stepfather in Kenosha, the records say. During a camping trip to Ladysmith in northern Wisconsin in April, Rittenhouse gave the friend money for the gun at a local hardware store, they say.
The records say the friend, who drove Rittenhouse home after the shootings with the gun in the trunk of his car, told Antioch police that Rittenhouse kept the gun at the friend's stepfather's house in Kenosha.
The friend told police he regretted that he did not stop Rittenhouse from taking it out on Aug. 25.
"(The friend) stated after the shooting he spoke with Kyle and told Kyle that he believed he was going to be in more trouble than Kyle," the records say. "He told Kyle that he (Kyle) was defending himself and said he told Kyle, 'In all reality, you are not supposed to have that gun. That gun was in my name.'" The friend has not been charged,
Lake County State's Attorney Mike Nerheim said on Oct. 13 only that the rifle was "purchased, stored and used" in Wisconsin. An Antioch police investigation found no evidence that Rittenhouse possessed the AR-15 in Illinois before the Aug. 25 shootings, Nerheim's office said. But Antioch Chief Geoffrey Guttschow did said his officers took possession of the rifle and another gun the morning of Aug. 26 from a vehicle belonging to an adult acquaintance of Rittenhouse that was parked near the 17-year-old's home.
Politics and a protest
At the hearing Friday, Pierce drew an objection from prosecutors when he said he believed the case against his client was a political prosecution from high-ranking politicians in Illinois and Wisconsin.
Nerheim expressed support for Novak's ruling and said his office believed as the judge did that the extradition paperwork was in order.
"We were confident all along that it fit the requirements of the statute," Nerheim said.
Clyde McLemore, the founder of the Lake County chapter of Black Lives Matter, led a crowd of about 30 people at a protest outside the Waukegan courthouse Friday morning to support Rittenhouse's extradition.
Rittenhouse had been held without bail at the Minard E. Hulse Juvenile Detention Center near Vernon Hills. If convicted of the most serious charges, he could spend the rest of his life in prison.
"Now Rittenhouse can go to Kenosha and face these charges," Nerheim said. "And we can go on with our business in Lake County."
• Daily Herald news services contributed to this report.