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Kyle Rittenhouse retains new lawyer ahead of murder trial

Rittenhouse, dressed in a dark-colored suit and wearing a black mask, said nothing during Friday morning's hearing in Kenosha, Wisconsin.

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with killing two people during protests that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last summer, retained a new attorney prior to his first in-person court hearing Friday.

Rittenhouse, dressed in a dark-colored suit and wearing a black mask, said nothing during Friday morning's hearing in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Covid-19 protocols forced Rittenhouse to make his earlier court appearances virtually, but those restrictions have since been lifted.

Also on Friday, Rittenhouse retained Corey Chirafisi, a defense attorney based in Madison, to serve as co-counsel, according to attorney Mark Richards, who was already representing Rittenhouse.

"The government has two, and we wanted it to be fair," Richards told NBC News on Friday.

Richards and Chirafisi and attorneys for the prosecution discussed pretrial deadlines for jury questionnaires and disclosure of defense witnesses during Friday's pretrial hearing.

Image: Kyle Rittenhouse listens as his attorney speaks during Rittenhouse's pretrial hearing
Kyle Rittenhouse, right, listens as his attorney, Mark Richards, speaks during Rittenhouse's pretrial hearing on Friday at the Kenosha County Courthouse in Kenosha, Wis.Sean Krajacic / The Kenosha News via AP

Rittenhouse is due back in court Sept. 17. A trial date is still set for Nov. 1, and it is expected to last about two weeks.

Rittenhouse, who is white, is accused of traveling to Kenosha from his home in Antioch, Illinois, on Aug. 25 after a local militia posted an online message seeking help protecting businesses from protesters.

Kenosha was in the throes of several nights of chaotic protests after a white police officer shot Blake, who is Black, in the back during a domestic disturbance. The shooting left Blake paralyzed from the waist down.

Video shows Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, opened fire on protesters Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz with an AR-15-style rifle. Rosenbaum and Huber died. Grosskreutz was wounded but survived.

He faces multiple felony counts, including reckless homicide and reckless endangerment. He also faces a misdemeanor count of being a minor in possession of a firearm.

Rittenhouse maintains he was defending himself, and conservatives have rallied around him, painting him as a symbol for gun rights. They generated $2 million for his bail in November.

Richards has said in court documents that Rittenhouse and his family have moved into an undisclosed safe house because they’ve received multiple threats.