Kyle Rittenhouse – the 17-year-old accused of the fatal shooting of two demonstrators at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, after the police shooting of Jacob Blake – will stand trial on charges of felony homicide and other crimes, a Wisconsin court has ruled.
On Thursday, Kenosha County Circuit Court Commissioner Loren Keating denied defense attorneys’ request to dismiss two of the six charges that Rittenhouse faces. During the video hearing, Keating ruled that there was ample evidence to send Rittenhouse to trial over the Aug. 25 killings of Anthony M. Huber, 26, and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36.
The teenager from Antioch, Illinois, also faces charges of possession of a dangerous weapon while under the legal age and felony attempted homicide for wounding a third man, Gaige Grosskreutz.
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.
However, Keating responded by noting that a trial, rather than a preliminary hearing, is the best venue for such arguments, reports NPR. The teen’s lawyers also requested that Keating dismiss two of the charges, including possession of a dangerous weapon, but the commissioner declined and said that those issues would be dealt with during a trial.
“We don’t allow teenagers to run around with guns, it’s really that simple,” said Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger. “A teenager in this case killed two people and shot a third, because teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to run around with dangerous weapons because bad things happen.”
Last month, Rittenhouse was released on $2 million bond, most of which was raised by his conservative supporters through a legal defense fund.
John Huber, whose son Anthony was among those killed, had emphatically demanded prior to his release that Keating set the bail amount much higher.
If Rittenhouse is convicted on the intentional homicide charge, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Rittenhouse is accused of carrying out 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, a 29-year-old man who was left paralyzed by the shooting.
Rittenhouse was armed with a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle, and allegedly killed Rosenbaum after he threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse – and missed – before coming towards him and attempting to wrestle away the rifle.
In video captured of the aftermath of the deadly altercation, various protesters can be heard shouting “get him” and “beat him up” after Rittenhouse fatally shot Rosenbaum. When Rittenhouse tried to flee down the street, he tripped and fell to the ground. Huber then struck him with his skateboard and attempted to take the rifle. Rittenhouse then opened fire, killing Huber and injuring Grosskreutz, who was armed with a handgun.
Rittenhouse turned himself in at a local police station in Antioch the morning after the shootings, where he apparently admitted to shooting protesters, according to records from the Antioch Police Department. He was with his mother when he walked into the police station before 1:30 a.m. on Aug. 26.
“I shot two white kids,” Rittenhouse reportedly admitted, adding that he had “ended a man’s life.”
An arraignment in the case is scheduled for Jan. 5, 2021.
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