The semi-automatic rifle used by Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager acquitted of criminal charges in the shooting death of two men and the wounding of another during a street protest in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in 2020, will be destroyed in under an agreement approved by a judge on Friday.
Mr. Rittenhouse, 19, had consented to the terms of the agreement before a hearing in Kenosha County Circuit Court, according to his attorney, but did not attend the hour-long proceedings.
A spokesman for Mr Rittenhouse had previously said he did not want the AR-15 type rifle to become a political symbol or trophy.
The rifle, a Smith & Wesson M&P 15, will be turned over to the Kenosha Police Department and taken to a state crime lab to be destroyed, along with the rifle’s magazine and scope, a prosecutor said Friday.
The prosecutor, Kenosha County Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger, said the process would most likely be completed by the end of April.
“It won’t be in anyone’s possession,” Mr. Binger said.
Mark Richards, Mr Rittenhouse’s lawyer, filed a motion earlier this month asking that the rifle, its ammunition and a mask worn by his client on the night of the shooting be returned to Mr Rittenhouse.
“I have discussed it with my client, and it meets his objectives,” Mr Richards said of the deal, noting that Mr Rittenhouse’s other assets had been returned to him.
Guns and gun control in the United States
Mr Rittenhouse was found not guilty of homicide and other charges in November after a two-week trial, a case that has become a flashpoint in a national debate over vigilantism, gun rights fire and self-defense.
His actions have been endorsed by many prominent conservatives, including former President Donald J. Trump, who met with Mr. Rittenhouse in Florida after his acquittal.
Meanwhile, footage of Mr Rittenhouse brandishing a semi-automatic weapon on city streets during racial justice protests has drawn widespread condemnation.
Then 17, Mr Rittenhouse traveled from his rural Illinois home to Kenosha as the town descended into civil unrest in August 2020 following the shooting of Jacob Blake by a police officer who responded to this which authorities had called a domestic complaint. . Mr Blake, who is black, was shot several times in the back by the officer, leaving him partly paralyzed and sparking protests.
Mr Rittenhouse was among a group of heavily armed civilians who took to the streets of the city to guard businesses and properties as protesters smashed street lamps and set cars and shops on fire.
During a skirmish, Mr Rittenhouse was chased into a parking lot by Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, who was unarmed and behaving erratically, video of the confrontation showed. In the video, which was released during his trial, Mr Rittenhouse turned to and fatally shot Mr Rosenbaum, who lived in Kenosha.
Mr Rittenhouse then opened fire on two other people, Anthony Huber and Gaige Grosskreutz, who chased him as he fled, according to accounts. Mr. Huber was killed and Mr. Grosskreutz survived.
Facing felony charges, the man who bought Mr Rittenhouse the military-style rifle because he was too young to buy it himself agreed this month not to contest lesser charges in under an agreement.
The man, Dominick Black, 20, was a prosecution witness in the homicide case against Mr Rittenhouse. He also consented to the destruction of the rifle, prosecutors said Friday.
While there was unanimity over what should happen to Mr Rittenhouse’s rifle, the fate of the $2million raised by his supporters and lawyers for his bail became a sticking point ahead of Friday’s hearing.
A hedge fund had sought to claim the $2 million, plus interest, saying in court papers it had given a former lawyer for Mr. Rittenhouse $300,000 for Mr. Rittenhouse’s bail and was entitled to bail. full amount.
The fund, the Patent and Trademark Hedge Fund Trust, had suggested that contributing to Mr. Rittenhouse’s defense would be a good investment, Circuit Court Judge Bruce E. Schroeder said.
“It’s quite a leap of faith in any criminal prosecution,” Judge Schroeder said.
Judge Schroeder said he understands hedge funds are inclined to take risks. But it, he said, drove him. He rejected the opening of the fund and said the money would go to Mr Richards’ law firm and a legal defense fund known as the #FightBack Foundation.
“Who will pay the interest? Judge Schroeder spoke about the hedge fund’s motion. “We weren’t. It is absurd.