A Wisconsin court commissioner on Monday set bail at $2 million for Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old accused of killing protesters in Kenosha, in his first court appearance in the state after being extradited from Illinois last week.
Rittenhouse is accused of fatally shooting two demonstrators and injuring a third during protests on Aug. 25 that followed the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was shot several times at close range by Kenosha police and is now paralyzed.
The Illinois teenager, who will be tried as an adult in Wisconsin, faces five criminal charges for allegedly killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz. The charges include first-degree intentional homicide, first-degree reckless homicide and attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
During Monday’s Zoom hearing, Rittenhouse’s lawyers argued that because he had allegedly acted in self-defense and has no prior criminal record, the bond should be set at $750,000. But Court Commissioner Loren Keating rejected those arguments. He noted the national network of supporters who have taken up Rittenhouse’s cause and said he considered him a flight risk.
“As such, the court is going to impose a $2 million cash bond, believing that is reasonable and necessary and sufficient at this juncture to secure the appearance of Mr. Rittenhouse,” Keating said, The Hill reported.
Rittenhouse faces up to life in prison if convicted.
Attorneys representing Rosenbaum’s family and Grosskreutz, as well as Huber’s father, all had asked for an even higher bail of $4 million.
John Huber said Rittenhouse, who allegedly killed his son with a single shot, “has people out there that will help him, militia organizations that can raise money and harbor him.”
Give Send Go, a self-described “Christian crowdfunding site,” raised nearly $550,000 to help cover Rittenhouse’s legal fees before organizers say they were forced to stop receiving donations.
Attorney Kimberly Motley, who represents Grosskreutz, told NPR that “while we argued for a higher bail we certainly respect the $2 million bail imposed by the court.”
“We believe that Mr. Rittenhouse has already proven that he is a significant flight risk and his reckless actions against my client who he severely injured, as well as the victims killed demonstrate that he is a significant risk to the public,” Motley added.
The day of the shooting, Rittenhouse drove from his home in Antioch, Ill., to Kenosha about 20 minutes away, armed with an AR-15 style semi-automatic rifle with a 30-round magazine — a weapon prosecutors charge he was too young to possess. Rittenhouse, who is white, told a reporter that he’d gone to Kenosha as a member of a civilian militia protecting businesses from the vandalism that had broken out on previous nights following the police shooting of Blake.
The Daily Beast reported that as the protests unraveled, Rittenhouse walked down the city’s streets brandishing his weapon. According to his lawyers, Rosenbaum approached Rittenhouse and attempted to “engage” him. Rittenhouse took off running and Rosenbaum chased after him. Videos of the incident show Rosenbaum, who was unarmed, threw a plastic bag at Rittenhouse, who responded by firing about five shots into the 36-year-old.
As Rittenhouse ran away, Huber tried to stop him by bashing him with a skateboard. But the teenager allegedly fatally shot him, too. Grosskreutz, who was also armed according to the complaint, was shot shortly afterward as he approached Rittenhouse.
Rittenhouse managed to walk away unscathed and drove himself home. He turned himself into police and was arrested the next day.
On Friday Rittenhouse was ordered extradited from Illinois to Wisconsin by Lake County Judge Paul Novak.