Kenosha, Wis., murder suspect Kyle Rittenhouse was found not guilty of all counts Friday in a high-profile case that broke new ground on Wisconsin’s overloaded sex offense court system.
Rittenhouse, 18, was set for trial on felony charges in the death of 19-year-old University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point student Jeanne Nutter. He had been on house arrest while awaiting trial since his Jan. 17 arrest. Rittenhouse’s alleged victim had been dead in her home for months when it was discovered that Rittenhouse had hidden the crime.
An autopsy showed she had been sexually assaulted and strangled before being set on fire.
A search warrant affidavit filed by police stated that a witness told them she saw a man leaving the victim’s house “burning a pile of clothes” the day Nutter died. Her body had still not been found when authorities served the search warrant on Rittenhouse’s mother’s home for the night she was last seen.
Rittenhouse’s attorneys had claimed that all evidence collected in the case was “junk science” and could not be used at trial. A Will County court system official had said investigators’ affidavits would be stricken from the record before the trial began in order to protect Rittenhouse’s rights. The sheriff’s office declined to comment on the case to reporters.
Rittenhouse also stood accused of sexually assaulting another victim, a 19-year-old woman, in Kenosha, where his grandfather was living at the time of the girl’s assault in December. That charge was later dropped.