A judge agreed Friday to delay for a month a decision on whether a 17-year-old from Illinois should be returned to Wisconsin to face charges accusing him of fatally shooting two protesters and wounding a third during a night of unrest following last weekend’s police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha.
The judge in Waukegan, Illinois, postponed Kyle Rittenhouse’s extradition hearing to Sept. 25 during a brief video conference that was streamed online. Rittenhouse asked for the delay in order to have time to hire a private attorney. He faces five felony charges, including first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree reckless homicide, and a misdemeanor charge for possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor.
Rittenhouse did not appear during the livestreamed hearing. His current attorney, Lake County, Illinois, assistant public defender Jennifer Snyder, said Rittenhouse had spoken by phone with his mother since his arrest Wednesday.
Lee Filas, spokesman for the Lake County state’s attorney, said Rittenhouse plans to hire Los Angeles-based attorney John Pierce and that Rittenhouse’s presence at Friday’s hearing had been waived.
Rittenhouse, a white teen who was armed with a semi-automatic rifle as he walked Kenosha’s streets with other armed civilians during this week’s protests, would face a mandatory life sentence if convicted of first-degree intentional homicide. Under Wisconsin law, anyone 17 or older is treated as an adult in the criminal justice system.
He was taken into custody on Wednesday in Antioch, Illinois, the city about 15 miles (24 kilometers) from Kenosha where he lives.
The shootings late Tuesday were largely caught on cellphone video and posted online.
The shooting by police on Sunday of Blake, a 29-year-old Black father of six who was left paralyzed from the waist down, was also caught on cellphone video. That shooting made Kenosha the latest focal point in the fight against racial injustice that has gripped the country since the May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody.
Three nights later, Rittenhouse was armed and on the streets of Kenosha, saying that he was protecting businesses from protesters, according to widely circulating cellphone footage.
(Image Credit: AP)