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Kyle Rittenhouse, the Lake County teen charged with killing two in Kenosha, set for court hearing Friday

By Dan Hinkel, Chicago Tribune on

Published in News & Features

CHICAGO - Kyle Rittenhouse is scheduled for a hearing in Lake County court Friday morning that will focus on whether he will be sent to Wisconsin to face charges alleging he fatally shot two people and wounded a third during protests in Kenosha last month.

Lawyers for the 17-year-old from Antioch could waive his right to challenge extradition or demand future hearings to fight his potential return to Kenosha County, where he is charged with murder and several other counts.

If he fights extradition, those proceedings would turn on the questions of whether the warrant from Wisconsin is valid and whether he is actually the person accused of the crime, said Stephen Komie, a Chicago lawyer who has handled extradition cases. Numerous video clips show Rittenhouse at the scene, and one of his attorneys has acknowledged he shot the people but argued he fired in self-defense.

Prisoners fighting extradition also sometimes separately sue to challenge the authority of their jailers to hold them, Komie said.

When reached by The Chicago Tribune, one of Rittenhouse's lawyers, John M. Pierce, asked for emailed questions but had not responded to those Thursday afternoon.

Rittenhouse has been held without bail in Lake County's juvenile detention facility since his arrest a month ago. Kenosha County prosecutors have charged him with shooting three men with an AR-15-style rifle Aug. 25 during violent protests over white police Officer Rusten Sheskey's shooting of 29-year-old Black man Jacob Blake a couple of days earlier.

 

Videos show that Rittenhouse - an ardent supporter of police who participated in groups for aspiring officers - was among numerous civilians armed with rifles who interjected themselves into the protests, property destruction and looting that followed Blake's shooting.

Rittenhouse stands at the center of a heated political debate. Conservatives have cast him as a well-intentioned citizen who exercised his right to self-defense, and gun rights advocates and a foundation with ties to his legal team have raised money for his defense. President Donald Trump has said the teen "probably would have been killed" during the confrontation.

Liberal commentators, meanwhile, have argued that he needlessly killed two people after wading into unrest over police violence against Black Americans.

His lawyers have contended he clearly fired in self-defense. Defense lawyers in Wisconsin have said the success or failure of a courtroom self-defense claim could hinge on questions about the teen's actions before he fired and details that have yet to emerge.

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