Kyle Rittenhouse Pleads Not Guilty to Kenosha Protest Shootings

Kyle Rittenhouse, the 18-year-old man accused of killing two people and wounding a third during Black Lives Matter protests in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has pleaded not guilty to the charges he faces. According to the Associated Press, Rittenhouse entered his plea via teleconference, as he previously posted the $2 million bail he was given. In August, Rittenhouse was arrested after traveling to Kenosha from his home in Illinois and walking the streets of the city with an AR-15 style rifle and allegedly firing the weapon on protesters.

The six-charges that Rittenhouse faces are as follows: first-degree recklessly endangering safety against Richard McGinnis, first-degree intentional homicide against Anthony Huber, attempted first-degree intentional homicide against Gaige Grosskreutz, first-degree recklessly endangering safety against an unknown male victim (who was later identified as Joseph Rosenbaum), and possession of a dangerous weapon by a person under 18. The final charge is the only misdemeanor he faces, as all the others are felonies. McGinnis is a reporter who has interviewed Rittenhouse before the shootings.

Additionally, each felony charge also comes with a "use of a dangerous weapon" modifier. This brings up a Wisconsin-specific law which calls for an addition of no more than five years in prison for each of the charges, if found guilty. According to legal filings, prosecutors stated the weapon in Rittenhouse's possession was "later recovered by law enforcement and identified as a Smith & Wesson AR-15 style .223 rifle."

A pretrial conference for Rittenhouse has been set for March 10, with a trial date of March 29. However, his attorney Mark Richards has reportedly indicated that he would may attempt to delay the date to have more time to prepare his case. Notably, while Rittenhouse is currently 18, he was 17 at the time of the shootings.

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The protests in Kenosha had risen after the shooting of Jacob Blake, a black man who was shot in the back seven times by police officers after allegedly resisting. The incident was caught on video and came just a few months after George Floyd's death, a black man who died after a white police officer knelt on his neck for nine minutes during an arrest. These incidents and countless others led to mass civil unrest across the nation, which has spawned many protests.