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Wisconsin prosecutors seek Rittenhouse arrest, higher bond

A protester kicks a smoke canister Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020 in Kenosha, Wis. Anger over the Sunday shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by police spilled into the streets for a third night. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Prosecutors asked a judge Wednesday for a new arrest warrant for an Illinois teen charged with shooting three people, killing two of them, during a protest over police brutality in Wisconsin after he apparently violated his bail conditions.

Kyle Rittenhouse failed to inform the court of his change of address within 48 hours of moving, Kenosha County prosecutors alleged in a motion filed with Judge Bruce Schroeder. The motion asks Schroeder to issue an arrest warrant and increase Rittenhouse’s bail by $200,000.

Rittenhouse’s attorney, Mark Richards, countered in his own motion Wednesday that death threats have driven Rittenhouse into an “undisclosed Safe House.” Richards said he offered to give prosecutors the new address in November if they would keep it secret but they refused. He said Rittenhouse has stayed in constant contact with him.

Rittenhouse is charged with multiple counts, including homicide, in connection with the protests in August in Kenosha. The demonstrations began after a white police officer shot Jacob Blake, who is Black, in the back during a domestic disturbance, leaving him paralzyed from the waist down.

Prosecutors allege Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, responded to a militia’s call on social media to protect Kenosha businesses from protesters. He opened fire with an assault-style rifle on Joseph Rosenbaum, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskruetz. Rosenbaum and Huber were killed; Grosskruetz was wounded but survived.

Rittenhouse, who is white, fled to his home in Antioch, Illinois, but turned himself into police there the next day.

He has maintained he acted in self-defense after the three men attacked him. Conservatives have rallied around him as a symbol for gun rights and pushing back against anti-police protesters, although others insist he escalated tensions by walking around the protest with a gun.

Conservatives raised $2 million to cover his bail and he walked out of jail in November.

Last month Rittenhouse was seen drinking at a bar in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, and posing for photos with two men as they made “OK” signs with their hands, a symbol used by white supremacists, according to prosecutors. Five men at the bar also serenaded Rittenhouse with a song that has become the anthem of neo-fascist group the Proud Boys, prosecutors alleged.
Rittenhouse is now 18 but still too young to drink. However, he could consume alcohol in a bar under Wisconsin law because he was with his mother.

The judge ordered him not to have any contact with white supremacists after that episode.

Prosecutors wrote in their motion Wednesday that they learned Rittenhouse was no longer living at his Antioch address after the court mailed him a notice and it was returned as undeliverable on Jan. 28. Kenosha detectives traveled to the address on Tuesday and discovered another man had rented the apartment and had been living there since mid-December.

The prosecutors said in their motion that it’s unusual for any homicide defendant to be allowed to roam freely and the court needs to know where Rittenhouse is at all times. They did not say whether they knew where Rittenhouse currently resides, saying only that he has failed to provide the court with a new address.

“He posted no money so he has no financial stake in the bond,” they wrote. “He is already facing the most serious possible criminal charges and life in prison, so in comparison, potential future criminal penalties are insignificant.”

Richards, Rittenhouse’s attorney, argued in his motion that Rittenhouse and his family have received threats in various forms, the most recent of which came on Jan. 25. When Rittenhouse was released from jail in November, police told defense attorneys not to provide the safe house address, Richards said.

An attorney working with Richards, Corey Chirafisi, asked Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger via email on Nov. 30 if he could keep the safe house address sealed but Binger refused, according to Richards’ motion.

“It is noteworthy that the State has only now decided to file a motion to increase bond in this case, despite having corresponded with Attorney Chirafisi regarding the change in Kyle’s residence over two months ago,” Richards wrote.

Richards stressed that Rittenhouse has made all his court appearances and is in constant contact with him. He provided the safe house address to the judge as part of a separate motion requesting it be sealed.
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Follow Todd Richmond on Twitter at https://twitter.com/trichmond1