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Crime & Courts

Judge orders Antioch teenager Kyle Rittenhouse extradited to Wisconsin

Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch helps clean the exterior of Reuther Central High School on Aug. 25 in Kenosha, Wis. Rittenhouse, 17, was arrested Aug. 26 after two people were shot to death during protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Kyle Rittenhouse of Antioch helps clean the exterior of Reuther Central High School on Aug. 25 in Kenosha, Wis. Rittenhouse, 17, was arrested Aug. 26 after two people were shot to death during protests in Kenosha over the police shooting of Jacob Blake.

A Lake County judge ruled Friday that Antioch teen Kyle Rittenhouse, who has been charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding a third during civil unrest in Kenosha, should be extradited to Wisconsin.

Lake County Judge Paul Novak wrote his opinion in a six-page ruling released Friday at about 3:15 p.m. following an in-person morning hearing attended by Rittenhouse at the Waukegan courthouse.

Rittenhouse, 17, faces first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and other charges in Wisconsin in connection to the deaths of Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and the wounding of Gaige Grosskreutz. The shootings took place Aug. 25, two days after Kenosha police shot Jacob Blake, 29, in the back.

Rittenhouse's attorneys argued at the hearing that their client should be released based on improper paperwork.

"For today, this Illinois child must go free," Rittenhouse attorney John Pierce said Friday morning.

Novak disagreed.

The arguments from both sides centered on whether the paperwork charging Rittenhouse was in order.

Rittenhouse appeared at the hearing in dress clothes and a gray face mask.

Assistant Lake County State's Attorney Stephen Scheller said the paperwork was in order. Pierce disagreed. He called the charging document insufficient because it was not initially sworn to before a court magistrate.

Novak wrote in his opinion that even if the court were to find the complaint was not made before a magistrate, the argument made by Rittenhouse's lawyers would fail.

Outside the Waukegan courthouse Friday morning, Clyde McLemore, the founder of the Lake County chapter of Black Lives Matter, led a crowd of about 30 people in chants in the bracing wind. McLemore said he hopes the judge sends Rittenhouse to Wisconsin.

"I'm praying that he will do the right thing," McLemore said.

At the hearing Friday, Pierce focused on the issues he had with the paperwork and drew an objection from prosecutors when he said he believed the case against his client was a political prosecution from high-ranking politicians in Illinois and Wisconsin.

Authorities say Rittenhouse shot and killed Rosenbaum, 36, of Kenosha, after Rosenbaum threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, missing him, and then tried to wrestle his rifle away.

Cellphone video captured Rittenhouse saying, "I just killed somebody." Prosecutors' complaint indicated someone in the crowd said "beat him up" and another yelled "Get him. Get that dude."

Video shows Rittenhouse tripped and, while on the ground, Huber, 26, of Silver Lake, hit him with a skateboard and tried to take his rifle. Rittenhouse opened fire, killing Huber and wounding Grosskreutz, of West Allis, who was holding a handgun.

During an earlier hearing, Pierce argued his client acted in self-defense while exercising his right to bear arms. Pierce also said neither Wisconsin nor Illinois authorities followed legal technicalities required for extradition.

Lake County prosecutors rejected that argument.

Rittenhouse has been held without bail at the Minard E. Hulse Juvenile Detention Center near Vernon Hills.

If convicted of the most serious charges, Rittenhouse could spend the rest of his life in prison.

• Daily Herald wire services contributed to this report.

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