WAUKEGAN, Ill. — A Lake County judge is expected to rule Friday on whether Kyle Rittenhouse will be sent to Wisconsin to face charges stemming from the fatal shooting of two men and the wounding of a third during protests in Kenosha in August.
Judge Paul Novak made the announcement after lawyers gave brief technical arguments about whether the paperwork was sufficient to send the 17-year-old from Antioch to Kenosha County, where he is charged with murder and several other counts. His lawyers have argued in part that he'd be in danger if he were moved from the juvenile detention center in Lake County to an adult jail over the border.
Unlike prior hearings in Rittenhouse's extradition case that were conducted online, the judge held this one in person.
Kenosha County prosecutors have charged Rittenhouse with shooting three men with an AR-15-style rifle Aug. 25 during protests over white police Officer Rusten Sheskey's shooting of 29-year-old Jacob Blake, a Black man, days earlier.
Video from the scene of the protests showed Rittenhouse apparently trying to surrender to police in Kenosha after the shootings but they didn't arrest him. He was arrested the next day in Lake County and has been held without bail in the juvenile facility for two months.
Extradition proceedings typically are technical matters that don't focus on the substance of the alleged crimes, but Rittenhouse's lawyers have tried to block his transfer by arguing he fired in self-defense and is the target of a political prosecution.
The teen's lawyers indicated they might call his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, to testify "regarding the circumstances of his arrest." That did not happen Friday, however.
Rittenhouse's attorneys argued in a petition filed earlier this month that extradition would violate his Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search or seizure, contending that the video shows "without a shadow of a doubt" he shot in self-defense. The filing also argued that sending Rittenhouse to Wisconsin would violate his 14th Amendment due process rights because he would face a "legion of hazards" if put in adult jail. The petition also contended there are technical problems with the arrest and charging documents.
Lake County prosecutors rejected the constitutional arguments, writing that they should be raised in Wisconsin, not Illinois. Prosecutors wrote that Rittenhouse's attorneys had used their filing to "insert irrelevant and inflammatory 'facts' which are solely meant to sway sympathy and public opinion through the media in favor of the defendant and that have no place in an extradition hearing." The filing contended that the paperwork meets the requirements to extradite Rittenhouse.
Lawyers experienced in extradition cases have told the Chicago Tribune that Rittenhouse faces an uphill climb against extradition and even the judge finding problems with the paperwork wouldn't likely end the prosecution, as authorities could correct the documents.