A federal jury on Friday acquitted two men accused of plotting the 2020 kidnapping of Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, while failing to reach a verdict for the other two defendants. Defendants Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta had pleaded not guilty during the trial to the charge of conspiring to kidnap the governor and were facing life in prison.
Harris and Caserta were found not guilty on the charge of conspiring to kidnap the governor, while the jury could not reach a verdict on Fox and Croft, with which the trial of both has been declared a mistrial and possibly another trial will be held.
All but Caserta were also charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against people or property in a scheme to slow down police response to Whitmer’s kidnapping. Croft and Harris also faced charges of possessing an “unregistered destructive device.” On the second fell, in addition, the charge of having in his possession a semi-automatic assault rifle that he did not have registered either. Harris has been acquitted of all those charges, while Caserta has been found not guilty only on the count of conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer; and the trial against Fox and Croft on all those charges has been declared a mistrial.
The process against the four began in early March in Grand Rapids (Michigan) -three of them are from that state-, while Croft, considered the de facto leader of the group, is from Delaware. Two other men who were arrested as alleged members of this group, Ty Garbin and Kaleb, pleaded guilty months ago and testified against the other four at this trial, saying they all had plans to kidnap Whitmer from her Lake Huron home. .
The defendants allegedly intended to take the governor away in a boat, not agreeing with the restrictions adopted in Michigan to stop the spread of the pandemic.
Whitmer’s chief of staff, Joanne Huls, lamented in a statement “the normalization of political violence.” “The plan to kidnap and assassinate the governor might seem like an anomaly, but let’s be honest with what it really is: the result of violent, divisive rhetoric that is all too common in our country. There must be accountability and consequences for those who have committed heinous crimes,” she warned.
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In July 2020, the defendants allegedly planned to kidnap or kill the governor at her vacation home on Mackinac Island, Michigan, and allegedly tried to procure maps and plans of the home to execute the plan the following October.
During the toughest months of the pandemic, the governor was criticized by conservative groups and far-right militias, and even by the now former president Donald Trump (2017-2021), for imposing the closure of commercial activity and crowds in the state by covid-19. Armed militia groups decided to protest in 2020 at the state Capitol against the governor and against what they considered a violation of their constitutional rights
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