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.
Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger alleged that Rittenhouse failed to update his address when he moved out of his Antioch apartment in November.
Prosecutors say Rittenhouse violated conditions of his $2 million bond by failing to inform the court of his current address.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys say threats have forced him into hiding, and they say they offered to give prosecutors Rittenhouse’s current address if it stays under seal. Prosecutors have refused, saying the public is entitled to know where Rittenhouse is and that the defense hasn’t presented any evidence of an immediate threat.
The defense further claimed that a ‘high ranking’ member of the Kenosha Police Department had previously told them to deliberately list a false address for where Rittenhouse was staying on court papers in order to protect him.
Schroeder refused both of Binger’s requests. During a testy hearing the judge said people out on bail often fail to update their addresses and aren’t arrested. He ordered Rittenhouse attorney Mark Richards to turn over Rittenhouse’s current physical address but said it would be sealed to the public and only he and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department would have access to it.
The judge refused to give Binger the address, saying he didn’t want more violence in Kenosha. The move – and the comment – left Binger flabbergasted.
‘I hope you’re not suggesting sharing this with our office would lead to further violence,’ Binger said. ‘We are not the public. We are the prosecuting agency. I have never heard of a situation where the information has been withheld from my office.’
Schroeder said the sheriff could handle any further bail violations. Binger countered that Rittenhouse doesn’t live in Kenosha County so the sheriff can’t touch him. Schroeder cut Binger off in mid-sentence and ended the hearing.
Rittenhouse came to Kenosha in August from nearby Antioch, Illinois, as hundreds of people were protesting the police shooting that left Jacob Blake, a Black man, paralyzed.
Prosecutors say Rittenhouse, who is white and was 17 at the time, answered a militia group´s call on social media to protect Kenosha businesses.
He is accused of killing Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz with an AR-15-style rifle the night of Aug. 25.
He was charged with first-degree intentional homicide, two counts of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, first-degree reckless homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18.
Rittenhouse has maintained he fired in self-defense, and some have rallied to his side, portraying him as a patriot exercising his right to bear arms. Supporters of the Black Lives Matter movement have painted Rittenhouse as a trigger-happy white supremacist.
Last week, the Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office alleged he failed to inform the court of a change of address within 48 hours of moving.
When he was released on bail, Rittenhouse listed his home address as being in the 200 block of Anita Terrace in Antioch.
But a notice mailed to the home on December 22 was returned unclaimed on January 28, according to the motion filed by the District Attorney’s Office.
When detectives visited the address on Feb. 2, they said they spoke with a man who stated he moved into the apartment in mid-December and that Rittenhouse no longer lives there.
But the motion claims the address was listed on the bond that Rittenhouse signed on January 22 and he failed to correct it.
Rittenhouse’s Wisconsin-based attorney, Mark Richards, filed an objection to the motions of his client being re-arrested and having the increased bond.
He claims Rittenhouse is in an undisclosed ‘safe house’ due to numerous death threats he’s received following the aftermath shootings.
Richards said Rittenhouse would provide his address to the court if the court can promise it will be be withheld from public record.
The Kenosha County District Attorney’s Office filed a response on Feb. 4 rejecting the motion.
Rittenhouse was released on $2 million cash bail back in November, following a fundraising campaign from right-wing activists and conservative celebrities.
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.