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Teen accused of shooting 2 Kenosha protesters fighting extradition to Wisconsin to face homicide charges

Defense lawyers for the 17-year-old Illinois suspect say they need more time to look at "immense" video evidence.
Image: Kyle Rittenhouse
Kyle Rittenhouse, left, walks along Sheridan Road in Kenosha, Wis., on Aug. 25, 2020, with another armed civilian.Adam Rogan / The Journal Times via AP

Kyle Rittenhouse, the northern Illinois teenager accused of gunning down two protesters after the police shooting of Jacob Blake, will fight extradition back to Wisconsin, his lawyers said Friday.

Lake County Judge Paul Novak gave prosecutors and attorneys for Kyle Rittenhouse, 17, two more weeks to prepare legal filings and ordered them to appear before him again on Oct. 9.

“We intend to challenge extradition by writ of habeas corpus,” defense lawyer John Pierce told the court.

The attorney said he will need time to prepare his challenge as it involves “issues of some complexity, frankly, that have not arisen in the country for some time.”

Rittenhouse, from Antioch, Illinois, is accused of fatally shooting two protesters and wounding a third on Aug. 25 during protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Defense lawyers have previously said their client was acting in self-defense in the fatal shooting ofJoseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26.

Linda Watson, chairwoman of the Illinois State Bar Association's criminal justice section, said the chances of Rittenhouse avoiding an eventual extradition to Wisconsin are slim.

The only possible arguments against extradition are, "You got the wrong guy' or 'That’s not a crime,'" Watson told NBC News on Friday.

"He could argue self-defense, but that’s a question for (a trial in) the state of Wisconsin, not for us (in Illinois)," she said.

Rittenhouse's lawyers could also argue that he is being improperly charged as an adult in Wisconsin, but that too would be an issue for trial and not the extradition hearing, Northwestern University Law School professor Juliet Sorensen said.

Typically, the only winning defense against extradition is over a wrong identification, according to Sorensen: "It's usually 'Bob is charged with a crime, and I'm not Bob.' "

During the remote hearing Friday, Rittenhouse appeared on camera in a box on the lower right-hand side of the screen as he sat in front of a bare, cinder block wall.

He wore a blue mask and a black sweatshirt and said little during the hearing, other than to identify himself for the record.

His lawyer, Pierce, said in the hearing that the defense has been barred from bringing electronic devices into jail for Rittenhouse to see footage from the night of the shootings.

"There is, as you probably know, there's an immense amount of video evidence, and we really do need to be able to review that along with our client," Pierce said.

The judge asked defense attorneys to write out specifically which jail rules are preventing them from showing Rittenhouse video, and said he will order that it be allowed. .

Rittenhouse's case has become a cause célèbre among some conservatives who believe the teenager's actions were justified.

Conservative commentator Michelle Malkin brought Rittenhouse's mother to a GOP event in Waukesha County, Wisconsin, on Thursday night, where they were warmly received, the syndicated columnist said on Twitter. Malkin also said she has called Rittenhouse in jail and thanked him "for his courage."

President Donald Trump also at one point expressed sympathy for the defendant.

“I guess it looks like and he fell and then they very violently attacked him and it was something we’re looking at right now and it’s under investigation,” Trump said days after the fatal encounter. “I guess he was in very big trouble. He probably would have been killed. But it’s under investigation.”