Kyle Rittenhouse, the Illinois teen charged with fatally shooting demonstrators last year, has formally pleaded not guilty.
The Associated Press reports Rittenhouse entered the plea Tuesday, more than four months after he shot and killed Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber during an anti-police brutality protest in Kenosha. Rittenhouse, who was 17 at the time, is also accused of wounding a third man during the night of unrest, which was sparked by the Aug. 23, 2020, police shooting of Jacob Blake.
Prior to the deadly incident, the now-18-year-old told reporters he had traveled from his home in Antioch, Illinois, to Kenosha with the intention of protecting local businesses from potential rioters. He was seen on the Kenosha streets carrying an assault-style rifle, which was allegedly supplied by 19-year-old Dominick Black, who was later charged with intentionally giving a dangerous weapon to a minor causing death.
Rittenhouse, who is now 18, was arrested on multiple homicide and weapons charges, including reckless and intentional homicide, endangerment, and being a minor in possession of a firearm. He was subsequently extradited to Wisconsin and placed behind bars, but was released weeks later after posting $2 million bail. Rittenhouse's previous attorney, Lin Wood, claimed a portion of that money came from donors who claim the teen was simply acting in self-defense.
After turning himself in to authorities, Rittenhouse reportedly told investigators he was hit on the head and neck with a baseball bat before he opened fire. Rittenhouse's legal team has pointed to video that shows their client being chased down the street, and claim someone had fired a shot "into Rittenhouse's direction," giving him no choice but to defend himself.
"For reasons that remain unclear, Rosenbaum began to pursue Rittenhouse upon finding him alone," his attorneys wrote in a court filing. "Rosenbaum chased Rittenhouse into a car lot while other rioters flanked them ... Video captures the events as Rittenhouse turned towards the sound of the gunshot and Rosenbaum lunged for his rifle. Unable to retreat further and under grave risk of immediate harm, Rittenhouse fired four shots from his rifle at Rosenbaum."
Rittenhouse is expected to be back in court on March 10, with a trial set for March 29. If convicted on all charges, he'll face up to life in prison.