MILWAUKEE – A Kenosha County court commissioner set bail at $2 million for Kyle Rittenhouse at his first Wisconsin court appearance Monday, after being extradited from Lake County, Illinois, on Friday afternoon.
Rittenhouse, 17, faces homicide charges from the Aug. 25 shootings during the civil unrest that followed the police shooting of Jacob Blake, who was left paralyzed, two days earlier.
Rittenhouse is charged with killing Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, and wounding Gaige Grosskreutz, 22. His attorneys say he acted in self-defense.
During a Zoom hearing, Court Commissioner Loren Keating said he considered Rittenhouse a flight risk, given the fact he faces decades or life in prison if convicted, and might have the help of thousands of supporters nationwide if he decide not to return to court.
Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger suggested Keating maintain the $2 million bail set by Circuit Judge Mary Schroeder on Rittenhouse's arrest warrant back in August.
Defense attorney Mark Richards suggested $750,000 would be more than sufficient. He noted his client has no criminal record, surrendered voluntarily and has family in the county and an "overwhelming" claim of self-defense.
"Who attacked my client first?" Richards asked. "Rosenbaum, then the mob, not demonstrators, but rioters with ill intent in their heart."
The father of one victim and the attorney for another — participating in the hearing per the provisions of the recently adapted Marsy's Law — encouraged even higher bail of $4 million.
John Huber, father of Anthony Huber, said Rittenhouse "has people out there that will help him, militia organizations that can raise money and harbor him."
He called his son — who is seen on video striking Rittenhouse with a skateboard after Rittenhouse had killed Rosenbaum — a hero.
Grosskreutz attended the hearing with his attorney, Kimberly Motley. She also requested $4 million bail. She said threats against her client, though not from Rittenhouse, would likely increase if Rittenhouse were freed pending trial.
Richards, the defense attorney, tried to get Keating to dismiss the one misdemeanor charge against Rittenhouse, possessing a firearm as a minor, citing what he called an exception in the statute. Binger disagreed on what the statute means, and Keating said Richards could raise the issue later in writing.
A preliminary examination was set for Dec. 3.
Attorneys argue self-defense
Rittenhouse had been held in an Illinois juvenile detention center since his surrender to his hometown Antioch, Illinois, police hours after the shooting, after Kenosha authorities ignored him as he walked to them with his arms raised in apparent surrender just minutes after the shootings.
Kenosha Sheriff's Lt. Eric Klinkhammer said Monday that Rittenhouse's stay at the county's jail raised no problems over the weekend.
In Illinois, his attorneys tried to argue that it's so apparent from videos that he was acting in self-defense that he should never have been charged, and that Illinois would be violating Rittenhouse's constitutional rights if it returned him to face "a political prosecution." But a judge there Friday said those are issues only for Wisconsin, and both states had met the technical requirements for extradition.
So far, Rittenhouse has been represented by John Pierce, a Los Angeles civil litigator, in conjunction with L. Lin Wood, an Atlanta defamation lawyer, each aligned with conservative causes and urging social media followers to donate to Rittenhouse's legal defense via a foundation the men established. Neither is licensed to practice in Wisconsin.
In September, they hired Richards, a Racine criminal defense attorney, to handle Rittenhouse's actual case in Kenosha. A Chicago lawyer had been retained as local counsel in the failed extradition fight.
Rittenhouse, carrying an AR-15 rifle, was among several groups of armed men who descended on Kenosha during ongoing protests over the Blake shooting that had devolved into arson and looting.
At least some had come in response to a post on Facebook by the group Kenosha Guard, calling for people to come and defend the city. It has not been proven yet whether Rittenhouse had seen the post himself, or was encouraged by anyone with Kenosha Guard. He told police he and his group were hired to defend a car business that had been hit hard by arson the first night of protesting.
On Monday, Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., called on Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to do more to monitor the platform's millions of users.
"I request that you reexamine Facebook’s algorithms to ensure that they are not amplifying hate speech, misinformation, and violent extremist propaganda — particularly as our nation approaches a presidential election,” Baldwin wrote in a letter to Zuckerberg.
During congressional testimony, Zuckerberg cited an "operational mistake" for why the Kenosha Guard call to arms remained posted even after 455 complaints that it violated Facebook standards. But Baldwin's letter says Zuckerberg failed to explain the specific remedies, if any, Facebook took in response to that error.
Four people involved in the Kenosha demonstrations have sued Facebook for negligence, saying the failures Baldwin cites led to the violence Aug. 25.
Last month, authorities charged another man with firing a gun right before and not far from where Rittenhouse fired his first shots, killing Rosenbaum at a business at the corner of 63rd Street and Sheridan Road. Rittenhouse supporters say that shot contributed to his sense that his life was in danger.
Follow reporter Bruce Vielmetti on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.
Election live updates: Biden holds lead in Pennsylvania as Trump campaigns in 4 battleground states
The final week in polls: Trump eats into Biden's leads in Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada and Pennsylvania
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kyle Rittenhouse: Bail at $2 million for Kenosha shooting charges