A Wisconsin judge on Thursday denied a request to increase Kyle Rittenhouse's $2 million bond and issue an arrest warrant for him after a prosecutor argued that the teenager, charged in the fatal shootings of two men at a protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, violated conditions of his release by failing to report to the court the address of a "safe house" to which he's moved.
Assistant District attorney Thomas Binger had filed two motions asking that the 18-year-old's bond be increased by $200,000 and that he be re-arrested until the new bond is covered. But Kenosha County Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder ruled that the prosecution had not met its burden to prove that either of those measures was permitted or necessary under the law.
"I don't have the authority to issue the warrant the district authority is talking about, and I don't agree with his analysis of what the circumstances, or I should say the procedure, for getting an abode change," Schroeder said.
Binger said during a Zoom court hearing he sought the increase because he had "no idea where the defendant is spending his time, the court has no idea where he's spending his time, and that's a very unusual and dangerous situation when you have someone facing these types of charges in this case."
"Ultimately, your honor, I think this is a case where it would be important for the court to know exactly where the defendant is living," Binger added. "This is an extremely serious case and I think it is important we know exactly where the defendant is because of the risk of intimidation of witnesses, a risk to the community."
But Schroeder noted there is no evidence that Rittenhouse is a flight risk or has violated his bond conditions by committing a crime, which would be required for him to grant the prosecution's two motions.
"To issue a warrant now for a defendant who has appeared at every hearing, I'd be breaking the law, and I'm not going to do it," Schroeder said.
Rittenhouse appeared at the hearing from his lawyer's office but did not make any statement.
Schroeder ordered Rittenhouse to provide his current physical address to the court and the Kenosha County Sheriff's Office and ruled that the information would be kept under seal, due to concerns for Rittenhouse's safety. Mark Richards, an attorney for Rittenhouse, said the suspect has received threats.
Richards told the judge he would provide the information to the court clerk by the end of the day on Thursday. The judge declined to order that the address be provided to the district attorney's office.
Binger said it is "highly irregular" for the address of a defendant, particularly one charged with multiple counts of murder, to be withheld from the prosecution. He unsuccessfully argued the information was necessary for his office to ensure bond conditions are being met.
Richard described Binger's argument as "posturing," and said his client is not running or hiding.
"My client has appeared for every court appearance. He has done what he's supposed to do," Richards said. "My client will appear. He looks forward to litigating these offenses in your honor’s courtroom. We have nothing to fear. The truth will set my client free."
Rittenhouse is charged with first-degree reckless homicide, first-degree intentional homicide and first-degree recklessly endangering safety in the fatal shootings of Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26, during an Aug. 25 protest in Kenosha. He's also charged with attempted reckless homicide in a shooting that same night that severely wounded protester Gaige Grosskreutz.
The shootings erupted amid protests over the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a 29-year-old Black man who was paralyzed after he was shot in the back.
Rittenhouse's attorneys have said the teenager was acting in self-defense when he allegedly shot all three men, citing multiple cell phone videos showing him being chased and attacked by protesters.
According to a criminal complaint filed in the case, Grosskreutz allegedly moved toward Rittenhouse after putting his hands in the air and appeared "to be holding a handgun in his right hand when he was shot." In the videos prosecutors presented at a preliminary hearing, Rosenbaum appeared to be chasing Rittenhouse and throwing something at him when he was shot, and Huber appeared to hit Rittenhouse with a skateboard.
Following a preliminary hearing in December, a court commissioner ordered Rittenhouse to stand trial on all of the charges.
Prior to issuing his ruling on Thursday, Schroeder allowed Grosskreutz and Huber's father, John Huber, to speak. Both requested the judge increase Rittenhouse's bond to $4 million.