(Reuters) – Kyle Rittenhouse, the teenager charged with fatally shooting two men and wounding a third at a demonstration in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in August, is expected to plead not guilty to all counts at an arraignment on Tuesday, his lawyer said.
Rittenhouse was charged with first-degree reckless homicide and five other criminal counts related to the shootings, which occurred on Aug. 25 at a demonstration that followed the fatal shooting of a Black man, Jacob Blake, by a white police officer days earlier.
Rittenhouse, who faces a trial in Kenosha County, will plead not guilty to all counts at the hearing, scheduled for 1 p.m. local time (1900 GMT), his lawyer Mark Richards told Reuters in an email.
The teenager was freed after his attorneys posted his $2 million bond in November. The source of the money was unclear, but his attorneys had led a drive to raise the funds from donations.
Rittenhouse’s lawyers have said Rittenhouse, who turned 18 on Sunday, acted in self defense when he opened fire with a Smith & Wesson M&P 15 rifle at the protest.
The police shooting of Blake on Aug. 23, captured on cellphone video, drew a mix of civil rights demonstrators, anarchists and right-wing militias to the streets of Kenosha, a city of 100,000 people about 40 miles (65 km) south of Milwaukee.
Officer Rusten Sheskey shot at Blake’s back seven times from close range as Blake opened the door of his car, striking him four times and paralyzing him from the waist down. Officials said there was a knife inside Blake’s car.
Blake’s lawyer, Ben Crump, disputed that there was a knife in the car and said Blake was attempting to break up a fight between two women when he was shot in front of three of his sons, aged 3, 5 and 8.
Prosecutors are expected to decide whether to charge Sheskey this week.
(Reporting by Gabriella Borter, Editing by Rosalba O’Brien)