A judge has agreed to delay a decision on whether a 17-year-old from Illinois should be returned to Wisconsin to face charges accusing him of shooting dead two protesters and wounding a third during a night of unrest following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.
The Illinois judge postponed Kyle Rittenhouse’s extradition hearing to September 25 during a brief hearing that was streamed online. Rittenhouse faces five felony charges, including first degree intentional homicide and first degree reckless homicide, and a misdemeanour charge for possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
Rittenhouse did not appear in the livestreamed hearing, where his lawyer Jennifer Snyder, an assistant public defender in Lake County, Illinois, asked for the delay. The judge said Rittenhouse had been permitted to speak by phone with his mother and was in the process of hiring a lawyer.
Rittenhouse, a white teenager who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle as he walked Kenosha’s streets with other armed civilians during this week’s protests, would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first degree intentional homicide. Under Wisconsin law, anyone 17 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.
He was taken into custody on Wednesday in Antioch, Illinois, the city about 15 miles from Kenosha where he lives.
The shootings were largely caught on mobile phone video and posted online. The shooting by police on Sunday of Mr Blake, a 29-year-old black father-of-six who was left paralysed from the waist down, was also caught on mobile phone video. That shooting made Kenosha the latest focal point in the fight against racial injustice that has gripped the country since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Three nights later, Rittenhouse was armed and on the streets of Kenosha, saying that he was protecting businesses from protesters, according to widely circulating mobile phone footage.
The criminal complaint said that Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, followed Rittenhouse into a used car park, where he threw a plastic bag at the gunman and attempted to take the weapon from him. The medical examiner found that Mr Rosenbaum was shot in the groin and back – which fractured his pelvis and perforated his right lung and liver – and his left hand. He also suffered a superficial wound to his left thigh and a graze wound to his forehead.
Rittenouse then ran down the street and was chased by several people shouting that he just shot someone before he tripped and fell, according to the complaint and video footage. Anthony Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, was shot in the chest after apparently trying to wrest the gun from Rittenhouse, the complaint said.
Gaige Grosskreutz, 26, who appeared to be holding a gun, was then shot in the left arm after approaching Rittenhouse, the complaint said.
Rittenhouse’s lawyer, Lin Wood, said the teenager was acting in self-defence.