Kyle Rittenhouse will not be punished for changing his home address without notifying the court, a judge ruled Thursday, after prosecutors requested an arrest warrant and bond increase for the Illinois teenager who is facing murder charges for fatally shooting two men amid summer unrest in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Wisconsin Judge Bruce Shroeder ordered Rittenhouse to share his new address privately with the court, but declined the prosecution’s request to punish Rittenhouse for violating the terms of his bond, arguing that it’s a common mistake among defendants.
Schroeder sided with arguments made by Mark Richards, an attorney for Rittenhouse, who said that his client had faced threats to his safety while his address was public.
“After what this town has been through in the last six months, I don’t want any more problems,” said Schroeder, adding: “We don’t need to have people’s safety in jeopardy in any way.”
County prosecutors, as well as an attorney representing the victims, argued that Rittenhouse’s location should be more closely monitored due to the gravity of the charges he is facing, and accused the teenager of appearing to take his legal troubles too lightly, citing Rittenhouse’s trip to a Wisconsin bar last month where he wore a shirt emblazoned with the words “Free As F-ck.”
“From the moment he became a killer, he thought he was above the law,” said Kenosha County District Attorney Thomas Binger, arguing that he finds it “very concerning” that neither the court nor his office knew Rittenhouse’s address.
“This is a very unusual situation to have someone facing these charges be out there free on bond,” said Binger, arguing that “there is a big chance [Rittenhouse] could end up spending the rest of his life in prison,” suggesting he has good reason to flee.”
The judge ruled that Rittenhouse’s new address need only be shared with the court, not the district attorney, which Binger slammed as “highly irregular.” “I understand the court’s decision to seal it from the public, but our office has a responsibility to enforce the laws,” said the district attorney, adding: “We cannot do our job without this information.”
Ken Klippenstein, a reporter at The Intercept, obtained copies of the threats that have been made against Rittenhouse through a Freedom of Information Act request. The threats included a mailed photo of Rittenhouse and his mother, with his face circled and holes (representing bullet holes) on both their heads, as well as a smattering of threats posted on social media.
Rittenhouse is facing seven counts, including international homicide charges for the deaths of Rosembaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26. The teenager pleaded “not guilty” to all charges at his January arraignment, as his legal team plans to argue that Rittenhouse acted in self-defense when he fatally shot the two men and injured a third, Gaige Grosskreutz. His case has become a rallying point for conservatives, who label him as a patriot, and for liberals, who label him a domestic terrorist.