Kyle Rittenhouse won't get his gun back, but will get a share of his $2 million bail
KENOSHA — Kyle Rittenhouse's rifle will be dismantled at the Wisconsin state crime lab in April, and he will get to keep nearly $1 million of the crowd-funded bail that was posted to keep him out of jail during his homicide trial last year.
At a short hearing Friday, Judge Bruce Schroeder approved two deals. One, agreed to by Rittenhouse, was to let authorities destroy the rifle. The other was to divvy up his $2 million bail with actor Ricky Schroder and a Texas non-profit organization led by Atlanta lawyer Lin Wood.
Under the agreement, $920,000 will be paid, in trust, to Richards & Dimmer, the Racine law firm that defended Rittenhouse. Another $925,000 will go to #FightBack Foundation. Schroder, who posed with Rittenhouse soon after he was released on bail, gets back $150,000 he contributed.
Rittenhouse said he wanted the gun back — along with the clothing he wore the night of the shootings — so that he could destroy it.
Rittenhouse did not attend Friday's hearing, and his attorney Mark Richards would not say where Rittenhouse is living, but said he is getting ready to go back to college and is now interested in a possible legal career.
Authorities returned Rittenhouse's clothing and cellphone to Richards on Wednesday. He said he will mail them to Rittenhouse.
Kenosha Joint Services will hold the rifle until it sends a routine batch of firearms to the state crime lab for destruction, likely in April, said Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger. The lab will record the process and present the video to Richards as proof the gun was destroyed, Binger said.
A Kenosha County jury acquitted Rittenhouse, 19, in November of five counts, including homicide. He said he acted in self-defense when he killed two people and wounded a third during protests in August 2020.
He used a Smith & Wesson M&P rifle that an older friend had bought for him in May 2020 at Rusk County hardware store. Rittenhouse was 17 at the time and couldn't legally purchase a firearm. The weapon was evidence at Rittenhouse's trial, and retained as evidence in a separate case against Dominick Black for providing the gun to a minor.
Those charges were dismissed after Black, 20, pleaded no contest earlier this month to a non-criminal citation for contributing to the delinquency of a minor.
While Friday's hearing marked the end of Rittenhouse's criminal case, he could still face civil litigation over the shootings.
The parents of one of his victims, Anthony Huber, earlier this month moved to amend their federal civil rights lawsuit against Kenosha officials, to add Rittenhouse as a defendant.
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Rittenhouse, lawyers wanted gun destroyed
Richards said Black had also expressed interest in claiming the gun, and that Rittenhouse was concerned Black might try to sell it for rumored six-figure offers.
"We didn't think anyone should profit it from it," Richards said.
David Hancock, a spokesman for the Rittenhouse family, said Rittenhouse didn't want anyone to use any of his possessions to "celebrate" the case.
“At the end of the day, two people did lose their lives, period,” Hancock told the Associated Press. "That weapon doesn’t belong on a mantle. It doesn't belong in a museum."
While the Rittenhouse's rifle might have fetched well more than its typical value, the bail is a definite $2 million.
In 2016, when the gun George Zimmerman used to kill Trayvon Martin was returned to him, Zimmerman tried to auction it for hundreds of thousands of dollars. The bidding price reached $65 million.
Normally, bail is returned to the person who posted it. In Rittenhouse's case, thousands of supporters nationwide contributed to his legal defense and family support in the days after his arrest. Most of the money was channeled through the FightBack Foundation, a Texas nonprofit established a few weeks earlier by Rittenhouse's first lawyers, Lin Wood and John Pierce.
Rittenhouse eventually fired Pierce, who is now representing people charged in the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S Capitol, and blames Wood for letting him remain held in an Illinois juvenile detention center for months while pursuing an ill-fated extradition fight.
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On Thursday, a Nevada entity claiming to have obtained the rights to a $3.75 million judgment against Pierce and his former law firms and business entities filed a motion making its claim to the entire $2 million bail, or, at minimum, the $300,000 it says it contributed toward bail in the fall of 2020.
The Patent & Trademark Hedge Fund Trust says it obtained the rights to collect on money Pierce owed to Kadish Kapital, a litigation financing operation.
Contact Bruce Vielmetti on Twitter at @ProofHearsay.
This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Kyle Rittenhouse will get nearly $1 million of his crowd-funded bail