This story has been updated to include a comment from John Pierce.
The next battle in the Kyle Rittenhouse case is likely to be over money.
Rittenhouse, 18, was free on $2 million bond since last November, the money raised by donors and posted by former Rittenhouse attorney John Pierce with a cashier’s check from his law firm Pierce Bainbridge. Another early Rittenhouse attorney, Lin Wood, has stated the money was provided by the FightBack Foundation, which he operates. Wood has issued statements indicating that the money should come back to him.
On Friday, at a press conference after the jury returned a not guilty verdict, Rittenhouse defense attorney Mark Richards took a shot at Pierce and Wood and indicated there would be a fight over the money.
Asked by a reporter about the turning point in the criminal case, Richards said, “Getting rid of the first two lawyers.”
Pierce and Wood began representing themselves as Rittenhouse’s attorneys days after the Aug. 25, 2020, shooting, and began using his case for fundraising. Among the donors to the FightBack Foundation and Rittenhouse’s cause were MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell and former child actor Ricky Schroder.
Pierce began talking about bringing on a “SEAL team” of criminal defense attorneys, and began shopping out Rittenhouse and his mother for interviews as they sought to raise the teenager’s profile as a conservative cause.
But Wood left the Rittenhouse case shortly after the bond was posted, and Pierce was fired by the Rittenhouse family, with angry statements coming out on social media from the Rittenhouse camp about Pierce’s handling of money.
On Friday, asked about the bond money, Richards said that was in dispute.
“I suspect there will be a fight over that,” Richards said. “John Pierce is the person who posted the bond. All that money was raised on behalf of Kyle. Lin Wood and FightBack say they are entitled to it. There was half a million dollars I think that came directly from Wendy Rittenhouse from money she raised. So there’s going to be a fight over that, and I’m just thankful there will be a fight over that.”
Under normal circumstances, at the close of trial, bond money is returned to the person who posted it.
In September, Kenosha-based attorney Xavier Solis sent a letter to the court on the behalf of Wood demanding that the money be returned to FightBack.
“Money makes people do silly things,” a Twitter account associated with the Rittenhouse family posted after the letter was sent to the court. “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.”
Pierce said in a statement Friday: “Unfortunately, manufactured controversy, such as the social media speculation about the bail money is nothing more than a distraction designed to discredit me, as I prepare to defend many more people who are being abused for political gain.”
The lead attorney defending Kyle Rittenhouse in court this month was told as a kid in Racine by a counselor that he “was the most likely student to end up in prison.” That attorney, Mark Richards, excels at keeping his clients out of prison.