Kyle Rittenhouse makes first in-person court appearance

Rittenhouse is charged in the shooting deaths of two anti-racist protesters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, last August.

Kyle Rittenhouse appears with his lawyer, Mark Richards in Racine, Wisconsin, during a hearing at Kenosha County Court on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 [File: Kenosha County Court via AP Photo]
Kyle Rittenhouse appears with his lawyer, Mark Richards in Racine, Wisconsin, during a hearing at Kenosha County Court on Tuesday, January 5, 2021 [File: Kenosha County Court via AP Photo]

Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with fatally shooting two people and wounding a third during protests in Wisconsin last August, made his first in-person court appearance on Friday ahead of trial in November.

Rittenhouse, 18, had been attending court hearings remotely from his lawyer’s office but was able to appear in person before Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder for the pre-trial hearing following a relaxation of COVID-19 protocols.

The teenager sat to the left of his lawyer and was wearing a blue shirt, navy blazer and black face mask. He did not speak during the hearing, which mainly covered routine matters.

Rittenhouse’s lawyers and prosecutors ironed out deadlines and other housekeeping matters ahead of his trial in November.

Jacob Blake Sr, father of Jacob Blake, holds a candle at a rally on January 4, 2021, in Kenosha, Wisconsin [File: Morry Gash/AP Photo]

Schroeder set a few pre-trial deadlines for the prosecutors and Rittenhouse’s legal team, including July 1 for any motions and August 1 for a questionnaire for potential jurors.

Rittenhouse has been charged with homicide and five other criminal counts related to the shootings, in which Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber were killed and Gaige Grosskreutz was wounded. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time.

Rittenhouse had travelled on August 25 from his home in nearby Antioch, Illinois, in a self-appointed role to protect businesses in Kenosha, where the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, had sparked large protests.

The officer who shot Blake, who survived, was not charged.

The protests were part of a nationwide movement against police brutality and racism following the death of George Floyd in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.

His lawyers have said their client acted in self-defence.

Members of the far right, militias and anti-government groups rallied to support Rittenhouse. One fundraising campaign raised more than $2m for Rittenhouse’s mother before it was taken down, along with others on popular crowdfunding platform GoFundMe.

Rittenhouse was later released on a $2m bond. It is not known if the fundraising dollars were used to pay the bond.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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