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Kyle Rittenhouse entered not guilty pleas to all charges Tuesday in connection with multiple shootings in Kenosha, Wis., during a protest over the summer.
The teen and his legal team have argued self-defense, maintaining that he only fired his rifle after being attacked from behind.
Prosecutors accused Rittenhouse of traveling from his home in Antioch, Ill., across state lines to nearby Kenosha after learning of a call for militia to protect businesses during protests on Aug. 25.
"If what happened in Kenosha is not self-defense for Kyle Rittenhouse, the right of self-defense does not exist anymore in America," said attorney John Pierce, who is representing the teen in civil matters related to the incident. "He acted in pure, absolute, perfect self-defense."
After turning himself in, he told investigators that he had been hit in the head and neck with a baseball bat and skateboard, according to police records. Video circulating online shows scenes from the encounter.
KYLE RITTENHOUSE’S MOM SAYS TEEN GUNMAN WAS ‘HELPING PEOPLE’ IN KENOSHA
Protesters turned out repeatedly for several nights to condemn the police shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man who was left paralyzed after a White officer shot him during a domestic disturbance call.
Rittenhouse, who turned 18 last week, shot three people during the protest. Two of them died, Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber, and the shootings left Gaige Grosskreutz seriously wounded.
In addition to the shooting-related charges, prosecutors accused the teen of violating curfew to attend the protest in new charges filed this week.
"The charges should be dropped immediately," Pierce said. "If the prosecutors have such poor judgment that they are intent on taking this case to trial, we will prove Kyle's innocence and we will win."
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The pleas came during a virtually held hearing amid the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to disrupt day-to-day business across most of the country.
Rittenhouse’s trial is set to begin on March 29, but the start date could be delayed. A pretrial hearing was scheduled for March 10.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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