EXCLUSIVE DETAILS – Kyle Rittenhouse was back in court on Friday morning as his attorneys continued their efforts to keep the 17-year-old in his home state of Illinois instead of being extradited to Wisconsin to face trial on homicide charges.
Rittenhouse wore a face mask as he appeared on a video stream for a brief court hearing in Lake County, Ill., on Friday morning, one day after court papers argued that moving him to Kenosha, Wis. would effectively “turn him over to the mob.”
Judge Paul Novak scheduled an Oct. 30 hearing on the extradition request, though prosecutors told Novak they were prepared to move faster.
“The law is pretty clear cut on this,” Lake County Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller said. “This case has been dragging on now, we’re already into October. … We want a hearing as soon as possible.”
But John Pierce, Rittenhouse’s criminal attorney, said there was “no reason to rush” and questioned Wisconsin prosecutors’ motivation for pursuing the charges.
“This is a very unique, extraordinary situation,” Pierce said. “There is a massive amount of video evidence that shows beyond a shadow of a doubt this is not a legitimate criminal prosecution, it is a political prosecution.”
Rittenhouse remains in an Illinois jail cell.
On Thursday, lawyers for Rittenhouse filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus, arguing that his safety is in jeopardy and the case does not meet the legal requirements necessary to move someone from a juvenile center to an adult facility. The Antioch teenager is accused of fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during late-August civil unrest in Kenosha. Attorneys have continuously argued he was acting in self-defense.
Pierce told Fox News before the hearing that he was “extremely concerned” for Rittenhouse’s safety in light of threats “that have been made to him, to his family, to his lawyers.”
“Adding to that concern is the fact that a former vice president of the United States and a sitting United States senator who are running for president in what is arguably the most heated presidential election, perhaps in American history … has now chosen to use him as a political pawn to suggest falsely that he is a white supremacist,” Pierce added. “And to suggest falsely that he is one of the people that is responsible for the arson, looting and insurrection in Kenosha and Portland.”
Pierce was referring to a video shared last month by Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden that appears to suggest the teenager is a White supremacist.
Speaking exclusively to Fox News, Rittenhouse’s mother, Wendy Rittenhouse fumed as she recalled how she stumbled upon the video herself.
“I am angry. My son is not a white supremacist. He is not a racist. He is not in no militia,” she said. “Former Vice President Biden, how dare [he] use my son for a political ad for his campaign.”
Rittenhouse turned himself in to Antioch, Ill., police and was later charged with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree recklessly endangering, first-degree intentional homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide, all of which had charges reflecting “use of a dangerous weapon,” the criminal complaint states.
Rittenhouse told Fox News that, despite reports that she had driven her son into Kenosha the night of the shooting, Kyle had actually worked as a lifeguard in Wisconsin the day before and then stayed with a friend overnight.
The next day, he and his friend cleaned up graffiti in the morning before making their way into the area that had been stricken by violence and riots over the two previous nights. There, they encountered a business owner who was “desperate” to ensure his business was safe, Pierce said, joined by Wendy.
“A former or current employee, who happens to be friends of Kyle and his friend, desperately wanted to help protecting what was left,” Pierce said, later adding: “And of course, he had a firearm with him because otherwise he would have been killed.”
Wendy Rittenhouse, 45, and Pierce insisted the gun belonged to a friend and was not Kyle’s. They said it was never kept at their Antioch home and Kyle only ever used the gun in Wisconsin, Pierce added.
“I did not drive Kyle. I did not give Kyle that gun and people want to assume that,” she said, “They’re wrong. I did not drive my son to Kenosha that night.”
The charges against Rittenhouse stem from a series of alleged shootings on the night of Aug. 25, when Rittenhouse was in Kenosha with a friend and told the Daily Caller’s Richie McGuiness he was there that night to protect a business that he was seen standing near, and also “to help people.”
“If there’s somebody hurt, I’m running into harm’s way. That’s why I have my rifle because I need to protect, obviously, but I also have my med kit.”
Shortly after 11:30 p.m., Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and 26-year-old Anthony Huber died as a result of the shooting. Gaige Grosskreutz, who was allegedly holding a handgun at the time, was wounded but survived.
The criminal complaint pertaining to Rittenhouse’s arrest, which was shared online, details how several cell phone videos show Rittenhouse “running southwest across the eastern portion of the Car Source parking lot … holding a long gun.” Rosenbaum, who was not armed, is seen on video trailing behind him and then throwing an object – later identified as a plastic bag – at Rittenhouse, the complaint states.
“The defendant and Rosenbaum continue to move across the parking lot and approach the front of a black car parked in the lot,” a second video shows, according to the complaint. “A loud bang is heard on the video, then a male shouts, ‘F— you!’, then Rosenbaum appears to continue to approach the defendant and gets in near proximity to the defendant when 4 more loud banks are heard. Rosenbaum then falls to the ground.”
Rittenhouse then approached Rosenbaum before turning and running away, telling someone on the phone, “I just killed somebody,” the complaint states. Third and fourth videos show Rittenhouse running after he allegedly shot Rosenbaum, as people running after him can be heard yelling, “Hey, he shot him!” and “Beat him up!” and “Get him!,” the complaint states.
“Then a male in a light-colored top runs towards and the defendant and appears to swing at the defendant with his right arm,” the complaint states. “This swing makes contact with the defendant, knocking his hat off. The defendant continues to run.”
But when Rittenhouse trips and falls, a man “jumps at and over” him, at which point Rittenhouse allegedly fires two shots, but does not appear to strike the man, police said.
The complaint alleges that Huber, who is holding a skateboard, then approaches Rittenhouse “who is still on the ground, on his back.”
When Huber gets to Rittenhouse, “it appears that he is reaching for the defendant’s gun with his left hand as the skateboard makes contact with the defendant’s left shoulder,” the complaint states, adding that it appears Huber is trying to take the gun, which is pointed at his body.
Rittenhouse “then fires one round which can be heard on the video,” the complaint states. “Huber staggers away, taking several steps, then collapses to the ground.”
The teen then allegedly sat up and pointed his gun at Grosskreutz, who had put “his hands in the air” when he said Huber had been shot. But when Grosskreutz advanced toward Rittenhouse holding what appeared to be a handgun, Rittenhouse fired a single shot, striking him in the right arm.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys said the teen tried multiple times to surrender to Kenosha authorities before ultimately opting to return home.
Wendy Rittenhouse told Fox News she had no idea her son would be attending the protest and found out when she texted him late Tuesday.
“He got back … to me and said, ‘I’m okay and doing medics.’ I’m like, ‘What?’” she recalled. She said she woke up shortly thereafter with the feeling that “something was wrong.” She soon got word that something had happened in Kenosha, though details were unclear, she said.
“I had to find my son, and his sister was calling everybody,” she said. “I’m like, we have to go somewhere to find him.”
Wendy, a single mom who also has two daughters – one younger and one older than Kyle – left her apartment and drove into Kenosha to try to find Kyle or his friend, looking for his friend’s car which she said she would have recognized. But she stayed in the Green Bay area and Highway 50, away from the riot scene, she said.
“When I got back home, he was already there,” she said. “All I did was hug him, tell him I love him. He was crying. He was pale.”
Rittenhouse went to turn himself in to Antioch Police within 20 to 30 minutes later, she said.
Wendy said she gave her son permission to learn how to use the gun with his friend in Illinois
In the weeks since the Aug. 25 shooting, Wendy Rittenhouse said she has tried to watch the full footage of the attack.
“I get to the point where the first guy was chasing him to the gas station … And I see this mob chasing my son. The guy hitting my son in the head with a skateboard,” she said, often sounding as if she’s holding back tears. “Looking at my son’s face … I just cry, I was sick to my stomach. This mob was chasing my son to try to kill him.”
From her knowledge, Wendy said her son had never previously served as a medic at demonstrations. She said she had given Rittenhouse permission to learn how to use the gun at his friend’s home in Illinois and added: “If he didn’t have that gun, he would’ve been dead.”
She and Pierce vehemently rejected any notion that Rittenhouse was a member of a white supremacy or militia group.
Wendy has since taken a leave of absence from her job at a local nursing home. She and her daughters have relocated to an undisclosed location, she said, explaining that she no longer felt safe at home.
“We can’t even go back home. We don’t even have a home because the fear of them breaking in my house, killing my daughters, killing me, and if Kyle was there, to kill him.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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