Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old vigilante accused of the fatal shooting of two demonstrators at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been ordered to be extradited from Illinois.
Authorities have confirmed that as of Friday afternoon, when an Illinois judge handed down the order, Rittenhouse has been in Wisconsin’s custody, reports WGN.
The ruling in the case of Rittenhouse came several hours after a hearing at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, Illinois. Rittenhouse’s defense lawyers had tried to persuade Judge Paul Novak to block him from being transferred to Wisconsin to face homicide charges, to no avail.
Rittenhouse’s lawyer, John Pierce, claimed at the start of the hearing that he had a change of heart since informing the court that he would call witnesses, including Rittenhouse’s mother Wendy, who has defended her son in appearances on conservative media outlets like Fox News.
However, Pierce chose to focus on so-called “fatal defects” in the extradition papers. Following some 45 minutes of argument that delved into the intricacies of extradition law and precedent, Pierce said “This Illinois child must go free.”
The defense attorney’s strategy proved to be ill-fated. A local prosecutor argued that the law has no ambiguities regarding such cases and that blocking the extradition would undermine the entire justice system.
“You can imagine the chaos if someone can commit a crime and step over the [state borderline] and get sanctuary,” Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller said.
In the absence of witnesses, the section of the hearing that dealt with evidence and testimony transpired in under 30 seconds, and mainly consisted of Scheller handing the judge a signed warrant from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker calling for the extradition of Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse faces charges of allegedly killing Anthony M. Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz during a protest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, on August 25.
He faces one count of first degree intentional homicide, one count of first-degree reckless homicide, one count of attempt at first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of first degree recklessly endangering safety, and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
If he is convicted on the intentional homicide charge, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Rittenhouse committed the shootings after teaming up with a group of armed adult volunteers who came to the city to allegedly protect private property from demonstrators protesting the Aug. 23 police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys claim that their client feared death or bodily harm and acted in self-defense when he fired his AR-15 on demonstrators that night, killing two people and wounding another. They claim that the charges are politically motivated and that the extradition violates the accused killer’s constitutional rights.
During the arguments, Pierce declaimed, “This is a political prosecution.”
At the Friday hearing, Rittenhouse sat at a table wearing a dress shirt and tie, as well as a mask over his face. He had a calm demeanor and looked over at his mother at least once. When officers later took him from the hearing room, his mother began to cry.
Outside of the courthouse, local protesters chanted, “Kyle is a murderer!”
Legal experts say that state-to-state extraditions are rarely ever rejected, and judges almost never refuse to transfer suspects to another state. Efforts to block extraditions nearly almost fail, but serve a purpose of granting attorneys extra time to compile evidence and prepare their client’s defense.
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