By Associated Press
WAUKEGAN, Ill. (AP) — The 17-year-old charged in the shooting deaths of two protesters in Wisconsin is fighting his extradition from Illinois, but his attorneys didn’t outline their strategy during a brief hearing on Friday and legal experts say there isn’t much the teen can do to stop it.
Kyle Rittenhouse surrendered to police in his hometown of Antioch, Ill., a day after prosecutors say he shot and killed two protesters and wounded a third on the streets of Kenosha on Aug. 25. If convicted of one of the most serious charges he faces, he would be sentenced to life in prison.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys have said he acted in self-defense and have portrayed him as a courageous patriot who was exercising his right to bear arms during a night of unrest over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who is Black. And his arrest has become a rallying point for some on the right, with a legal defense fund that has attracted millions in donations. But others see Rittenhouse as a domestic terrorist whose presence with a rifle incited the protesters.
Rittenhouse appeared via video for a hearing in a Lake County, Ill., court on Friday, where his attorney asked for more time to prepare his arguments against extradition, without detailing what they would be. Rittenhouse, wearing a face mask, said only “Good morning, your honor” during a hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes.
One of Rittenhouse’s attorneys, John Pierce, made clear that he is opposing Rittenhouse’s return to Wisconsin to face the charges. Pierce asked for a month to prepare arguments challenging extradition that he said involve “issues of some complexity, frankly that have not arisen in the country for some time.”
Judge Paul Novak gave the defense 14 days to review papers and file pleadings ahead of an Oct. 9 hearing — the second such delay that has been granted to Rittenhouse. Whatever the judge rules can be appealed.
Mike Nerheim, the Lake County state’s attorney, said after the hearing that Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker had signed a warrant to return Rittenhouse to Wisconsin after a request from Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a fellow Democrat. Pierce asked for a chance to review the warrant, which Nerheim said he had received Friday morning.
Nerheim said in his 20 years as an attorney, he’s never seen anyone fight extradition after the governor signed a warrant for it. Nerheim said he didn’t know on what basis Rittenhouse would challenge extradition.
“We’re ready to proceed,” he said.
Extradition cases are rarely fought, but when they are the defendant has to do it through a habeas corpus proceeding, said Cecelia Klingele, a professor at the University of Wisconsin Law School. That means Rittenhouse would have to argue that he is being illegally detained, she said.
“We just don’t know what the basis of the legal challenge is going to be,” she said.
David Erickson, a former state appellate judge who teaches at Chicago Kent College of Law, said when challenges do occur, there are generally two arguments: that no crime was committed in the other state or that the defendant was not the person who committed the crime.
“It’s going to be some unique kind of theory, that’s for sure,” Erickson said. “It’s not the standard two of ‘it ain’t me’ or ‘there’s no crime,’” he said.