Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Illinois resident who traveled to Wisconsin during the Kenosha unrest and has been charged with gunning down two Black Lives Matter protesters and injuring another, appeared in court on Nov 2.
His appearance came after Rittenhouse was extradited from Illinois to Wisconsin to face numerous charges, including first-degree reckless homicide. During the hearing, a judge found Rittenhouse to be a flight risk and imposed a $2 million bond. Additionally, the teen is ordered not to be in contact with several individuals, including the person he injured during the shooting.
The hearing, held over Zoom, covered some key facts of the case. On Aug. 25, two days after Kenosha police officers shot and crippled Jacob Blake, Rittenhouse arrived in Kenosha alongside other armed individuals. He had answered the rallying call on the Kenosha Guard Facebook page, which encouraged people to arm themselves and head to Kenosha allegedly to defend property from rioters and looters.
As the boy walked Kenosha’s darkened streets, carrying an AR-15 rifle, his group encountered police officers in an armored vehicle. The officers, instead of arresting the self-styled militia members for violating the city’s curfew, offered them water and thanked them for being there. In the deaths of 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum and 26-year-old Anthony Huber, and the shooting of 22-year-old protester and street medic Gaige Grosskreutz, Rittenhouse’s lawyers have consistently argued that he acted in self-defense.
Lawyer Thomas Binger, representing the State of Wisconsin, responded to an argument made by Rittenhouse’s lawyer that Rittenhouse was within his rights to carry his gun under a statute which the state argued pertains to minors who are in possession of shotguns and rifles while deer hunting with their parents.
“Those statutes pertain to hunters,” said Binger. “They’re designed for hunter safety courses, hunter certifications, and basically that’s designed for minors who go deer hunting with their fathers, say during deer hunting season. There is absolutely no allegation in this case, no facts, no evidence. No one is suggesting that the defendant was hunting, at least not legally. Was not hunting game, didn’t have a hunting license and certification. This is not a hunting case. This is a case in which he used an AR-15 to kill two people. And he used it while he was underage.” The judge agreed with the state.
Binger suggested a $2 million bond would be appropriate for several reasons. After slipping past law enforcement on Aug 25, Rittenhouse fled Wisconsin and went back to his hometown in Illinois. But recently, Rittenhouse’s family has relocated, possibly because of threats they have received. However, because their current whereabouts are unknown, if Rittenhouse’s bond were too low, then he could potentially escape to an undisclosed location with his family.
Kimberley Motley, a lawyer representing Grosskreutz and others, pushed for the bond to be set at a minimum $4 million. Particularly due to the fact that Rittenhouse has received financial help from supporters of President Donald Trump. At a Waukesha County GOP event a month after the killings, Rittenhouse’s mother was treated as a guest of honor and received a standing ovation from the crowd. Fundraisers have been established since the incident in support of Rittenhouse’s defense.
At the Nov 2 court hearing John Huber, father of Anthony Huber, was offered an opportunity to speak. As Rittenhouse’s lawyer described the group Huber was part of as rioters “with ill-intent in their hearts,” the elder Huber just shook his head.
“This Kyle guy is a flight risk,” said Huber. “He’s facing a long time in prison. And he has people out there who will help him. Organizations, militia members who are raising money for his defense right now. They could harbor him.”
Rittenhouse’s lawyer objected to Huber’s comments, though the judge quieted the lawyer’s protests as Huber was expressing his opinion in a context allowed by Wisconsin state law. “Kyle Rittenhouse thinks he’s above the law,” Huber continued. “He’s been treated as such by law enforcement. So he believes he’s justified in this case, and for him to run wouldn’t surprise me.”
Huber also denounced the argument that Rittenhouse was acting in self-defense. “I don’t know what part of the video you watched, but he already killed a guy. Shot him in the head and tried to run,” asserted Huber, speaking directly to Rittenhouse’s lawyer. “My son was a hero. He tried to stop him. And so did everybody else. He was an active shooter, and he tried to flee. And my son lost his life protecting other people.”