Kyle Rittenhouse won't get his gun back but will get a share of his $2 million bail money
KENOSHA - Kyle Rittenhouse's rifle will be dismantled at the state crime lab in April, and he will get to keep nearly $1 million of the crowd-funded bail that was posted to keep him out of jail during his homicide trial last year.
At a short hearing Friday, Judge Bruce Schroeder approved two deals — one, agreed to by Rittenhouse, was to let authorities destroy the rifle; the other was to divvy up the $2 million bail with actor Ricky Schroder and a Texas non-profit organization led by Atlanta lawyer Lin Wood.
Under the agreement, $920,000 will be paid, in trust, to Richards & Dimmer, the Racine law firm that defended Rittenhouse. Another $925,000 will go to #FightBack Foundation. Schroder, who posed with Rittenhouse soon after he was released on bail, gets back $150,000 he contributed.
The judge denied an 11th-hour attempt by a California-based hedge fund trust to claim the bail money. The trust claims to be the assignee of a litigation financing company that was owed millions of dollars by Rittenhouse's first attorney, John Pierce of Los Angeles, and had obtained judgments against him.
The trust claimed its right to all assets of Pierce's firm and business entities included the bail, since he posted the $2 million with a check from his firm's account.
Rittenhouse's attorney, Mark Richards, argued Friday the money was wired to Pierce's firm from #FightBack, and went through Pierce's client trust account, so the money would never be subject to liens by business creditors.
In an affidavit, the trust's officer in charge of recovering assets from Pierce also claimed that despite Pierce's huge debt, the trust decided to contribute $300,000 to Rittenhouse's bail as an investment.
"That's quite a leap of faith for any prosecution," Schroeder said. "A good investment? I know hedge funds take risks, but this is bizarre."
After Richards argued there was no evidence of such an investment, Schroeder agreed to disburse the bail as Rittenhouse, #FightBack and Schroder agreed, and not wait until further litigation from the hedge fund trust.
Rittenhouse did not attend Friday's hearing. Richards would not say where Rittenhouse is living but said he is preparing to go back to college and is now interested in a possible "legal career."
A Kenosha County jury acquitted Rittenhouse, 19, in November of five counts, including homicide. He said he acted in self-defense when he killed two people and wounded a third during protests in August 2020.
He used a Smith & Wesson M&P rifle that an older friend bought for him in May 2020 at a Rusk County hardware store. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time and couldn't legally purchase a firearm. The weapon was evidence at Rittenhouse's trial, and retained as evidence in a separate case against Dominick Black for providing the gun to a minor.
Those charges were dismissed after Black, 20, pleaded no contest earlier this month to a non-criminal citation for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
Richards said Black had also expressed interest in claiming the gun, and that Rittenhouse was concerned Black might try to sell it for rumored six-figure offers.
"We didn't think anyone should profit it from it," Richards said.
Authorities returned Rittenhouse's clothing and cellphone to Richards on Wednesday. He said he will mail them to Rittenhouse.
Kenosha Joint Services will hold the rifle until it sends a routine batch of firearms to the state crime lab for destruction, likely in April, said Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger. The lab will record the process and present the video to Richards as proof the gun was destroyed, Binger said.
While Friday's hearing marked the end of Rittenhouse's criminal case, he could still face civil litigation over the shootings.
The parents of one of his victims, Anthony Huber, earlier this month moved to amend their federal civil rights lawsuit against Kenosha officials to add Rittenhouse as a defendant.
The motion notes the plaintiffs waited so as not to interfere with the criminal prosecution against Rittenhouse. The judge in the federal case has not yet agreed to accept the amended complaint.
Contact Bruce Vielmetti at (414) 224-2187 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kyle Rittenhouse to get $1 million of bail money, gun to be destroyed