With the ink barely dry on his acquittals, Kyle Rittenhouse is expected to face another legal battle soon over the $2 million bail posted after his arrest.
Rittenhouse's attorneys filed a motion shortly after the verdict, arguing that the money should be given to the teenager because it was raised on his behalf.
Another party, however, thinks the money belongs to them and staked their claim to it even before Rittenhouse's attorneys did.
The Fightback Foundation - an organization run by right-wing lawyer Lin Wood - filed a motion shortly after the verdict Friday asking that the money be refunded to that group. The seven-figure amount, however, was posted by Rittenhouse's former attorney John Pierce and included contributions that Rittenhouse's mother, Wendy, helped collect.
"John Pierce is the person who posted the bond," Rittenhouse defense attorney Mark Richards said following the teen's acquittal. "All of that money was raised on behalf of Kyle. Lin Wood and Fightback say that they're entitled to it. ... There was half a million dollars, I think, that came directly from Wendy Rittenhouse from money she had raised. So there's gonna be a fight over that."
According to the defense team's motion, the Fightback Foundation wired the money to Pierce on Nov. 20, 2020 with the purpose listed as "For Benefit of Wendy Rittenhouse as legal guardian for "Kyle Rittenhouse (bail)" listed. Shortly afterward, Rittenhouse fired Pierce and the attorney's affiliation with Fightback ended.
"Bond funds consist of donations from individual donors who intended their funds be used to support Kyle Rittenhouse and his defense of this matter," Richards wrote. "It would seem, therefore, it would be in this court's well-considered discretion to determine that all remaining bond funds ... be transferred to or for the benefit of Mr. Rittenhouse, for whose benefit they were donated, and posted, in the first instance."
In September, a foundation lawyer wrote a letter to Kenosha Circuit Judge Bruce Schroeder, who presided over Rittenhouse's case, saying the money should be returned to Wood's organization at the trial's end. The letter states that Pierce was "an agent" of the organization when he posted the money, but no longer had any ties to the group.
"Accordingly, the $2,000,000 shall be returned to the Fightback Foundation," attorney Xavier Solis wrote.
Pierce, who tweeted his congratulations to Rittenhouse after the verdict, did not respond to a request for comment. Federal court records show that Pierce "expressly disclaims any interest" to the money as the bond's poster and acknowledges it's possible that someone other than himself may have a legal right to it.
After filing the initial paperwork in September, Fightback's request drew sharp criticism from the current Rittenhouse defense fund, which prosecutors say is run by Kyle Rittenhouse.
"While we're busting our humps trying to raise money and see Kyle acquitted, Lin Wood is sending letters to the court DURING Kyle's hearing to demand $2M in donations FOR KYLE be given to HIM," stated a post on the fund's Twitter account. "Lin Wood ... keeping it classy as always."
Rittenhouse fatally shot Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber and injured Gaige Grosskreutz while ostensibly guarding a used car lot with an AR-15-style rifle in downtown Kenosha on Aug. 25, 2020. All four men were in the southeast Wisconsin town amid social unrest following the shooting of Jacob Blake, a Black man, by a white police officer.
A Kenosha County jury found he acted in self-defense each time he pulled the trigger, acquitting him of all five felony counts against him. Schroeder dismissed a misdemeanor gun charge and ticket for a curfew violation during the trial.
After the verdict, Richards blasted Wood and Pierce for putting their own political agendas ahead of Rittenhouse's best interest.
"They wanted to use Kyle for a cause, and something that I think was inappropriate," Richards said. "The only thing that mattered to me was whether he was found not guilty or not. I don't represent causes, I represent clients."