Kyle Rittenhouse’s lawyers expect to call his mother and four experts to testify at a hearing Friday on Wisconsin’s efforts to extradite him to face homicide charges in Kenosha.
Rittenhouse, 17, shot and killed two people and wounded a third during civil unrest Aug. 25 in the wake of a police officer shooting and paralyzing Jacob Blake two days earlier. Though he walked toward police with his hands up, they ignored Rittenhouse, who later surrendered to police at his home in Antioch, Illinois. His mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, will testify about the circumstances of his arrest, according to court records.
His defense team says Rittenhouse acted in clear self-defense and have criticized the complaint filed against him just two days later as a political prosecution. The lawyers announced from the start that Rittenhouse would challenge his extradition to Wisconsin.
One of the experts listed by the defense is Tim Gravette, a prison safety consultant who will discuss “the danger of sending a juvenile to be jailed as an adult in Wisconsin.”
Since his arrest, Rittenhouse has been held at a Lake County, Illinois, juvenile detention center.
Two former homicide detectives are expected to discuss “the apparent lack of investigation prior to the filing of the criminal complaint.” One of them is retired Milwaukee Police Lt. Steve Spingola, now a regular on the Oxygen network true-crime TV show “Cold Justice.”
Also listed as an expert witness for the defense is Andrew Branca, a Denver lawyer who specializes in self-defense cases, instruction and speaking on the topic. His website’s tag line reads, “Carry A Gun So You’re Hard To Kill, Know The Law So You’re Hard To Convict.”
Lake County prosecutors indicate in court pleadings that they do not intend to present any witnesses. They point out that under extradition law, an Illinois judge is not in position to question the sufficiency of Wisconsin charge after a Wisconsin judge has found probable cause for Rittenhouse’s arrest.
Assistant State’s Attorney Stephen Scheller noted in his written response that Rittenhouse “used more than half of his petition to insert irrelevant and inflammatory ‘facts’ which are solely meant to sway sympathy and public opinion through the media in favor of the defendant and that have no place” in an extradition hearing.
Extradition between states is usually a routine matter. When a defendant does challenge his transfer to a charging state, it usually involves attacks on technical, procedural errors or a claim that the wanted subject is insufficiently identified. Governors from Wisconsin and Illinois have issued all the required warrants.
Rittenhouse’s lawyers are trying to argue that, because of his self-defense claim, the charges against him are so lacking that Illinois would, in effect, be violating Rittenhouse’s civil rights if it agreed to release him to Wisconsin authorities.
In contrast to a pair or prior hearings, Friday’s will not be livestreamed on YouTube, a court spokeswoman said, and in-person attendance in the courtroom and an overflow room to view it on closed-circuit TV will be limited because of coronavirus precautions.