Rittenhouse straw purchase case collapses, friend offered plea deal

Sean Krajacic/The Kenosha News via AP, Pool

Dominick Black, who purchased the AR-15 rifle carried and used by Kyle Rittenhouse during the protests in Kenosha last August, could walk out of court a free man later today without any criminal charges hanging over his head. Black has been facing felony charges of illegally buying the gun for the teen, but the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports that Black, who was 18-years old at the time of the purchase, has been offered a deal allowing him to plead no contest to just one charge of contributing to the delinquency of a minor; an offense that is punishable by a citation and fine rather than a lifetime felony conviction. .

Black was the first prosecution witness at Rittenhouse’s trial, but the status of his own charges were up in the air after Judge Bruce Schroeder agreed to throw out one of the charges against Rittenhouse — that he unlawfully possessed a firearm as a minor. The defense convinced Schroeder that an exception in the law allows 17-year-olds to possess rifles and shotguns, or at least left the law too vague to be enforceable.

On Friday, Assistant District Attorney Thomas Binger filed a proposed plea agreement. It suggested Black would plead no contest to a pair of citations, and pay a $2,000 fine, and the felony counts would be dismissed.

According to the Journal-Sentinel, Black has already agreed to the deal offered by Kyle Rittenhouse’s prosecutor, but before it can become official another familiar face from the Rittenhouse trial has to sign off.

Judge Schroeder could reject the deal, or still just dismiss the original felony counts based on his ruling about the minors-with-firearms law in the Rittenhouse case.

Reached Saturday, Cotton said he’s hopeful Schroeder will accept the negotiated agreement, noting that Black has already testified under oath as to all the factual basis.

Nik Clark, who’s the head of Wisconsin Carry, Inc., told the Kenosha County Eye that the deal is “palatable, but not just,” arguing that the state’s gun laws are so complex that it’s “difficult even for the law-abiding to navigate.”

That may be the case, but the original charges against Black were also motivated by the same politics that drove the prosecution of Rittenhouse himself, and frankly suffered from a lot of the same flaws.

Typically in a straw purchasing case, the person who purchases a firearm for another actually turns that gun over to the other individual. That didn’t happen here.

After Rittenhouse, who was then 17-years old, gave Black the money to purchase the rifle, Black maintained possession of the gun at his home. The idea was that he would keep ahold of the rifle at his home in Kenosha until Rittenhouse turned 18 and could take legal possession. On August 25th of last year, however, Rittenhouse did take the rifle with him as he and Black went to stand guard over a local car dealership. As we learned at trial, though, Rittenhouse didn’t commit a crime by doing so, and if Rittenhouse hadn’t been forced to act in self-defense it’s almost certain that at the end of the evening he would have once again left the AR-15 at Black’s home when he headed back to his own house in northern Illinois.

This was never a standard “straw buy”, in other words, and there’s no guarantee that Binger would have been able to convince a jury that the purchase of the rifle should result in a felony conviction and a prison sentence. In that regard, the deal makes sense not only for Dominick Black, but for the prosecution, who now get to avoid the prospect of another embarrassing defeat in open court.

Of course Binger and company could have also avoided a legal loss by not charging Black and Rittenhouse in the first place, but given the immediate rush on the part of the media, Democratic politicians, and lefty activists to declare that Rittenhouse was a murderous, racist, white supremacist there was virtually no chance that prosecutors were going to decide that the teen had been acting in self-defense.

Clearly the prosecution is now ready to cut its losses and just move on. Judge Bruce Schroeder still needs to sign off on the plea agreement, but I’m guessing he too is ready to clear his courtroom of all Rittenhouse-related matters and the odds are good that the deal will be finalized later today.