US NEWS

How has Kyle Rittenhouse pleaded for the shooting charges?

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenage gunman charged with seven criminal counts, including first degree intentional homicide entered his plea on Tuesday.

How has Kyle Rittenhouse pleaded for the shooting charges?
KENOSHA COUNTY COURT via REUTERS

It’s been just over four months since the riots and civil unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsinprompted by the shooting of Jacob Blake by police officer Rusten Sheskey. Two days after after Blake was shot and seriously injured, two protesters, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber were fatally injured shortly before midnight on 25 August. A 17-year-old, Kyle Rittenhouse, was later arrested in conjunction with both deaths and seriously wounding a third, Gaige Grosskreutz.

Seven charges against Rittenhouse

Illinois resident Rittenhouse is charged with five felonies - first degree intentional homicide (for the death Rosenbaum); first degree homicide of Anthony Huber; attempted first degree intentional homicide of Grosskreutz and two counts of recklessly endangering safety, for shots fired at others. He also charged with two other offenses - being a minor in possession of a firearm and with violating a curfew in effect.

Rittenhouse, who turned 18 on Sunday, appeared virtually  before Kenosha County Circuit Court Commissioner Loren Keating on Tuesday. He is free after posting $2 million bail and was released from custody on Friday 20 November. The $2 million bail was raised by donations with My Pillow, Inc. CEO Mike Lindell, CEO and actor/film director Ricky Schroder making significant contributions by raising funds for the teenager.

In Tuesday’s arraignment, Rittenhouse, who appeared via video link from the office of his attorney Mark Richards in Racine, was formally advised of the charges against him. He pleaded not guilty to all seven charges. The hearing lasted just a few minutes. Rittenhouse's legal team claim that there is evidence that he acted in self-defense. His lawyers also argue that the curfew enforced by authorities from 24-27 August, which urged the public to “avoid all protest sites and maintain heightened vigilance” was too vague to be lawfully enforced. Wisconsin police arrested about 150 people for being in the streets in breach of the order.

A pre-trial conference for Rittenhouse is scheduled for 10 March and a trial date has been set for 29 March but the defence has requested more time, claiming that to complete such a case in five weeks would be ridiculous. Rittenhouse faces "a mandatory life sentence or at least significant amounts of time, likely decades of time period of incarceration" if he is convicted.