By Mark Guarino
Dec. 3, 2020 at 6:19 p.m. CST
Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teenager charged with fatally shooting two people during a summer protest in Kenosha, Wis., is to stand trial following a court’s rejection Thursday of a motion to dismiss two charges against him.
Rittenhouse appeared by video link with an attorney during an hour-long preliminary hearing Thursday, which previewed his self-defense case against charges including homicide and attempted homicide.
Rittenhouse’s legal team had filed motions to dismiss the charge of possession of a deadly weapon by a minor and one of two charges of reckless endangerment. Kenosha County Court Commissioner Loren Keating ruled that both charges would stand.
Rittenhouse’s arraignment is scheduled for Jan. 5.
The 17-year-old, who has become a cause celebre of the far right, was released from jail Nov. 20 after posting a $2 million cash bail, an amount raised primarily by conservative figures and groups. He is in an undisclosed location with his family. Some supporters calling to “free Kyle” stood outside the Kenosha County courthouse during the hearing, according to local news reporters.
During the hearing Thursday, defense attorney Mark Richards sought to show that his client had fired his weapon in self-defense, presenting multiple video stills and photographs of people who he said had posed a threat to Rittenhouse during the Aug. 25 protest where the shootings occurred. One photo showed a person Richards called “jump-kick man,” who the lawyer said had knocked Rittenhouse to the ground after a foot chase following the first shooting. The man has not been identified. Another showed Anthony Huber, 26, approaching the teenager while holding a skateboard.
Rittenhouse opened fire that night, killing Huber and Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and injuring Gaige Grosskreutz, 26.
Richards presented Rosenbaum as the guilty party, showing a photo of his body barechested with a shirt covering his face and noting that committing a crime while masked in Wisconsin is itself a crime.
“The state is trying to put forth a one-sided, stilted view of what happened to protect someone who does not deserve the protection of the state,” Richards said, calling Rosenbaum “a masked robber.”
Richards also showed a photograph of Joshua Ziminski, 35, who he suggested started the violence when he “fired his gun while Rosenbaum was chasing” Rittenhouse. Ziminiski has been charged with one count of disorderly conduct with use of a dangerous weapon.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger rejected the argument, saying that Richards was trying to cloud a probable-cause argument by introducing “a cast of characters” who were among “hundreds of people there that night.”
“We’re talking about individuals who have nothing to do with” Rittenhouse’s felony charges, Binger said.
Rittenhouse’s legal team tried to have the judge dismiss the charge of possession of a deadly weapon by a minor by noting that subsets of the statute are related to hunting and involve short-barrel weaponry. Rittenhouse was seen carrying an AR-15, which is a long gun.
Binger said the point was moot because he wasn’t alleging that Rittenhouse was not complying with hunting regulations. “This was hunting humans, not deer,” he said.
“It wasn’t hunting season. This wasn’t a case where a kid went up north with his dad to hunt deer,” Binger said. “This was a situation in which a teenager went running around the streets of Kenosha after curfew with a very dangerous weapon. This is exactly why we have this law, because teenagers shouldn’t be allowed to run around with dangerous weapons, because bad things happen.”