An Illinois judge on Friday ordered a 17-year-old accused of killing two people during a riot in Kenosha, Wisconsin, to be extradited across the border to stand trial on homicide charges.
The ruling came several hours after a hearing at the Lake County Courthouse in Waukegan, where defense lawyers sought to persuade Judge Paul Novak to block Kyle Rittenhouse’s transfer to Wisconsin.
As the hearing began, Rittenhouse’s lawyer said he’d had a change of heart since notifying the court that he planned to call witnesses, including Rittenhouse’s mother. Instead, John Pierce focused on what he called “fatal defects” in extradition papers.
He told Novak that Wisconsin authorities were required by law to present charging documents to a magistrate judge and that their failure to do so rendered their extradition request invalid.
He at one point said, “This is a political prosecution,” to which a local prosecutor objected.
After 45 minutes of arguments, Pierce said his client should remain in Illinois.
“This Illinois child must go free,” he told the judge.
The prosecutor said the law is unambiguous in requiring Rittenhouse’s extradition.
“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.
Novak did not comment on the arguments.
Without witnesses from either side, the part of the hearing meant for evidence and testimony lasted less than 30 seconds, when Scheller handed the judge Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s signed warrant calling for Rittenhouse’s extradition.
The shootings happened Aug. 25, two days after a police officer shot 29-year-old Jacob Blake, paralyzing him from the waist down and sparking days of riots.
Rittenhouse sat at a defense table on Friday wearing a dress shirt and tie. He appeared calm and at least once turned to look at his mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, on a spectators’ bench.
Later, as officers led him from the hearing room, she began to cry.
Near the courthouse steps, around 20 protesters chanted, “Kyle is a murderer!”
State-to-state extraditions are typically formalities and judges rarely refuse another state’s request to transfer a suspect. Efforts to fight extradition are nearly always in vain but can help attorneys buy time to compile evidence and prepare a defense.
The most serious charge Rittenhouse faces in Wisconsin is first-degree intentional homicide, which carries a life prison sentence. He is also charged with attempted intentional homicide in the wounding of a third person, as well as a misdemeanor charge of underage firearm possession.
His lawyers and gun rights advocates have argued he was acting in self-defense.
A day after the shooting, Rittenhouse surrendered to police in his Illinois hometown of Antioch, some 10 miles southwest of Kenosha.
According to prosecutors and court documents, Rittenhouse killed 36-year-old Joseph Rosenbaum, of Kenosha, after Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, missing him, and tried to wrestle his rifle away.
Video shows that 26-year-old Anthony Huber, of Silver Lake, hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard and tried to take his rifle.
Rittenhouse opened fire, killing Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, of West Allis, who was holding a handgun.
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