A judge on Thursday refused prosecutors’ request to issue a new arrest warrant for an 18-year-old from Illinois who is accused of killing two people during a police brutality protest in Wisconsin last summer.
Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder also rejected prosecutors’ request for a $200,000 bail increase for Kyle Rittenhouse, who came to Kenosha in August as hundreds were protesting the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger said in court filings that prosecutors realized Rittenhouse was no longer living at his apartment in Antioch, Illinois, when a court notice was returned as undeliverable. Kenosha detectives traveled to the apartment on Feb. 2 and found someone else living there. That man said he’d been renting the place since mid-December.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys argued that threats have forced Rittenhouse into hiding. He moved into an undisclosed "safe house" after conservative groups posted his initial $2 million bail in November. His attorneys say they have offered to reveal his current address to prosecutors but only if they would agree to keep it sealed.
"It is of concern to the defense that any information regarding Kyle’s location being publicly available would result in immediate harm to the Rittenhouse family," Mark Richards, one of Rittenhouse’s attorneys, wrote in a filing.
Binger refused to make a deal, saying a murder defendant’s address is public record.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys supplied Schroeder with Rittenhouse’s current address in a filing Feb. 3 with a request it be kept secret. Binger said the address is just a post office box.
Kyle Rittenhouse (Credit: Kenosha County Sheriff's Department)
"That is completely unacceptable," Binger wrote in a reply brief.
Kenosha was engulfed in violent protests that went on for several nights in August after a white police officer shot Blake, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down.
Prosecutors allege Rittenhouse, who is white and was was 17 at the time, answered a group’s call on social media to protect Kenosha businesses. During a demonstration the night of Aug. 25, Rittenhouse allegedly opened fire with an AR-15-style rifle on Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, killing Rosenbaum and Huber and wounding Grosskreutz. Prosecutors have charged Rittenhouse with multiple counts, including homicide.
Rittenhouse has maintained he fired in self-defense after Rosenbaum, Huber and Grosskreutz attacked him. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have painted Rittenhouse as a trigger-happy white supremacist. Conservatives upset over property destruction during recent protests have portrayed him as a patriot exercising his right to bear arms.
In January, Rittenhouse was seen drinking at a Mount Pleasant bar and posing with two men as they made white supremacist hand gestures. Five men also serenaded him with the anthem of the neo-fascist group the Proud Boys.
Rittenhouse could consume alcohol in a bar under Wisconsin law because he was with his mother.