Attorneys representing Kyle Rittenhouse, the 17-year-old Lake County youth accused of killing two people and wounding a third during protests last month in Kenosha have mounted a high-profile defense alleging he acted in self-defense.
"This is 100% self-defense," Los Angeles attorney John Pierce stated in a video posted to Twitter earlier this month. "If this is not self defense for Kyle Rittenhouse under these circumstances, then no one can protect themselves. No one can protect their family, and no one can protect their country."
Pierce called the case a "watershed moment in American history."
Rittenhouse is accused of killing two men and wounding a third during violent protests sparked by the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake.
During a brief hearing conducted by Zoom in Lake County court Friday morning, Pierce asked permission to take a laptop into the jail, to confer with his client about multiple videos shot during on the evening of Aug. 25 when the shootings took place. Pierce said he will challenge the efforts to return Rittenhouse to face charges in Kenosha County, Wisconsin.
"These are going to be involving issues of some complexity, frankly, that have not risen in the country for some time," Pierce told the judge.
The Los Angeles attorney has been joined in the defense by L. Lin Wood, a well-known Atlanta attorney whose clients have included John and Patsy Ramsey, wrongly accused Atlanta bombing suspect Richard Jewell, and former presidential aide Carter Paige.
"What is happening in our country?" Wood asked on Twitter today. "Remember Richard Jewell. Same script. Same culprits."
The website for Wood's Fight Back Foundation includes a fundraising tab for Rittenhouse's defense, and says it already has raised more than $2 million.
"We are prepared to confront those who seek to take away the right of self-defense," the website states. "We #FightBack for the Constitution."
Lin Wood is a staunch defender of President Trump, and declared in a recent Twitter post that "Biden has dementia & Harris is unqualified."
Together, he says the former vice-president and his running mate "seek to steal Presidency by cheating with mail-in ballots. Under cover of planned violence, they intend to overthrow the Constitution and seize power."
The Fight Back website features an elaborately-produced video called "The Truth in 11 Minutes." In that video, a narrator lays out the events of Aug. 23, and suggests at least one of the victims may have been hit by gunfire from another source.
"A 17-year-old American citizen is being sacrificed by politicians," the narrator says. "But it's not Kyle Rittenhouse they're after. Their end game is to strip away the Constitutional right of all citizens to defend our communities, our personal property, our lives, and the lives of our loved ones."
Wood told NBC 5 he is the lead counsel for Rittenhouse, but that Pierce is leading the criminal defense team. He said he is providing his services on a pro bono basis.
Previously, the family of shooting victim Anthony Huber said there was “absolutely no justification for Anthony’s murder.”
“Anthony was a hero,” the family said in a statement last week. “He sacrificed his own life to protect innocent civilians.”
Efforts to reach the family of shooting victim Joseph Rosenbaum were unsuccessful, but the criminal complaint states that Rosenbaum was unarmed when he was shot and killed.
The complaint states the third shooting victim, Gaige Grosskreutz, had his hands in the air and was holding a handgun in his right hand, but was moving toward the defendant when he was shot and wounded. In an interview with CNN, Grosskreutz he was merely exercising his right to protest and his right to bear arms
"I never fired my gun," Grosskreutz said. "I was there to help people. Not hurt people."
In the earlier Twitter video posted by attorney Pierce, Rittenhouse appears by speakerphone from jail and thanks his supporters.
"I just want to thank every single one of you from the bottom of my heart for the underlying support," he said. "Just want all of you to know that I'm going to be out of here soon and stay strong, and I hope to see you guys soon."