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US Whitmer kidnap plot: 2 men acquitted, hung jury for 2 more

06:50  09 april  2022
06:50  09 april  2022 Source:   msn.com

EXPLAINER: What is entrapment's role at kidnap plot trial?

  EXPLAINER: What is entrapment's role at kidnap plot trial? GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The core question at the trial of four men charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is whether the FBI engaged in entrapment — the prohibited practice of cajoling or tricking subjects into committing crimes. The FBI deployed undercover agents and informants in a sting that lasted months and ended in October 2020, when Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were arrested. Prosecutors say the men were motivated by their hatred of government and fury over COVID-19 restrictions imposed by the Democratic governor. One witness said they hoped to prevent Joe Biden from winning the presidential election.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — A jury acquitted two men of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer but couldn’t reach verdicts against the two alleged leaders, a stunning defeat for the government after a weekslong trial that centered on a remarkable FBI sting operation just before the 2020 election.

FILE - Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich. on Oct. 8, 2020. Jurors on Friday, April 7, 2022, acquitted two men and deadlocked on two others accused of plotting to abduct Whitmer in 2020. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - Michigan Office of the Governor, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addresses the state during a speech in Lansing, Mich. on Oct. 8, 2020. Jurors on Friday, April 7, 2022, acquitted two men and deadlocked on two others accused of plotting to abduct Whitmer in 2020. (Michigan Office of the Governor via AP, File) FILE - This photo combo of images provided by the Kent County Sheriff shows Daniel Harris, left, and Brandon Caserta in booking photos. On Friday, April 8, 2022, jurors acquitted Harris and Caserta of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but couldn’t reach verdicts against the two alleged leaders. In addition, Harris was acquitted of charges related to explosives and a gun. (Kent County Sheriff via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - This photo combo of images provided by the Kent County Sheriff shows Daniel Harris, left, and Brandon Caserta in booking photos. On Friday, April 8, 2022, jurors acquitted Harris and Caserta of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but couldn’t reach verdicts against the two alleged leaders. In addition, Harris was acquitted of charges related to explosives and a gun. (Kent County Sheriff via AP, File)

Whitmer did not immediately comment on Friday's outcome, though her chief of staff was critical, saying Americans are “living through the normalization of political violence.”

4 in Gov. Whitmer kidnap trial to decide whether to testify

  4 in Gov. Whitmer kidnap trial to decide whether to testify Four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer must decide whether they will testify in their own defense as the trial moves toward the finish line. “It's time to fish or cut bait,” U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said Wednesday after prosecutors closed their side of their case on day 13. Daniel Harris likely will be the first to express his intentions when the trial resumes Thursday in Grand Rapids, Michigan. His attorney, Julia Kelly, was the first defense lawyer to call any witnesses. © Provided by Associated Press Mich. Gov.

FILE - This photo combo if images provided by the Kent County Sheriff and Delaware Department of Justice, respectively, shows Adam Dean Fox, left, and Barry Croft Jr. On Friday, April 8, 2022, jurors acquitted two men of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but couldn’t reach verdicts against the two alleged leaders, Fox and Croft. (Kent County Sheriff and Delaware Department of Justice via AP) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - This photo combo if images provided by the Kent County Sheriff and Delaware Department of Justice, respectively, shows Adam Dean Fox, left, and Barry Croft Jr. On Friday, April 8, 2022, jurors acquitted two men of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but couldn’t reach verdicts against the two alleged leaders, Fox and Croft. (Kent County Sheriff and Delaware Department of Justice via AP)

The result was announced on the fifth day of deliberations, a few hours after the jury said it had been struggling to find unanimity on charges in the 10-count indictment. The judge told the panel to keep working, but jurors emerged again after lunch to say they still were deadlocked on some counts.

Closing arguments next in Michigan Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot

  Closing arguments next in Michigan Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot Jurors will hear closing arguments Friday in the trial of four men accused of a brazen conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a case built with informants, undercover agents, secret recordings and two people who pleaded guilty and cooperated. Only one defendant, Daniel Harris, chose to testify in his own defense. But his denial of any crime Thursday was met by an aggressive cross-examination in which prosecutors used his own words to show his contempt for Whitmer and even suggestions about how to kill her. © Provided by Associated Press Michigan-Governor-Kidnapping-Plot Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr.

Daniel Harris, 24, and Brandon Caserta, 33, were found not guilty of conspiracy. In addition, Harris was acquitted of charges related to explosives and a gun.

The jury could not reach verdicts for Adam Fox, 38, and Barry Croft Jr., 46, which means the government can put them on trial again for two conspiracy charges. Croft also faces a separate explosives charge. They'll remain in custody.

No juror spoke publicly about the mixed result.

“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome. ... We have two defendants that are awaiting trial and we’ll get back to work on that,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said.

Harris and Caserta embraced their lawyers when U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said they were free after 18 months in jail awaiting trial. Family members moments earlier gasped and cried with joy when the verdicts were read.

The arrests in Michigan came amid upheaval in the U.S. in 2020. The year had started with pandemic lockdowns then shifted to armed Capitol protests over COVID-19 restrictions ordered by Whitmer and other governors. By late May, anger over racial injustice and the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police erupted into demonstrations in cities nationwide.

EXPLAINER: Charges at Michigan governor kidnap plot trial

  EXPLAINER: Charges at Michigan governor kidnap plot trial CHICAGO (AP) — Jurors are deliberating at the trial of four men accused of plotting to abduct Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. They began going through evidence on Monday after some four weeks of testimony in U.S. District Court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Here’s a look at the charges and what's required to secure convictions: WHO ARE THE DEFENDANTS? Six men were initially charged but two pleaded guilty before trial. The remaining defendants include Adam Fox, described by prosecutors as the plot’s ringleader. He and co-defendant Barry Croft Jr. were affiliated with the “Three Percenter” far-right anti-government movement.

Michael Hills, the defense attorney representing Brandon Caserta, speaks to a scrum of reporters after Casterta was found not guilty of conspiring to kidnap and weapons charges outside the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and Courthouse in Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday, April 8, 2022. Jurors have acquitted two defendants, Daniel Harris and Caserta, of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer but couldn't agree on a verdict for two others. (Daniel Shular/MLive.com/The Grand Rapids Press via AP) © Provided by Associated Press Michael Hills, the defense attorney representing Brandon Caserta, speaks to a scrum of reporters after Casterta was found not guilty of conspiring to kidnap and weapons charges outside the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and Courthouse in Grand Rapids, Mich., Friday, April 8, 2022. Jurors have acquitted two defendants, Daniel Harris and Caserta, of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer but couldn't agree on a verdict for two others. (Daniel Shular/MLive.com/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

In a Grand Rapids courtroom, during 13 days of testimony, prosecutors offered evidence from undercover agents, a crucial informant and two men who pleaded guilty to the plot. Jurors also read and heard secretly recorded conversations, violent social media posts and chat messages.

Ty Garbin, who pleaded guilty and is serving a six-year prison sentence, said the plan was to get Whitmer and cause enough chaos to trigger a civil war before the election , keeping Joe Biden from winning the presidency.

FILE - This combo shows booking photos of, from left, Barry Croft, Daniel Harris, Adam Fox and Brandon Caserta. Jurors are deliberating on verdicts following testimony at the trial of the four men accused of plotting to abduct Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. Jury selection begins Tuesday, April 5, 2022 in a trial that could last more than a month in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Kent County Sheriff and Delaware Department of Justice via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - This combo shows booking photos of, from left, Barry Croft, Daniel Harris, Adam Fox and Brandon Caserta. Jurors are deliberating on verdicts following testimony at the trial of the four men accused of plotting to abduct Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. Jury selection begins Tuesday, April 5, 2022 in a trial that could last more than a month in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. (Kent County Sheriff and Delaware Department of Justice via AP, File)

Garbin and Kaleb Franks, who also pleaded guilty and testified for the government, were among the six who were arrested in October 2020 amid talk of raising $4,000 for an explosive to blow up a bridge and stymie any police response to a kidnapping, according to trial testimony.

Jury deliberations enter 3rd day in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot

  Jury deliberations enter 3rd day in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Jury deliberations are entering a third day in a trial that centers on a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. No verdict was reached Tuesday, hours after U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker turned down the jury's request for trial transcripts. Transcripts aren’t available yet. But even if they were, the judge said, jurors shouldn’t have them and instead must rely on their memory. Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are charged with a kidnapping conspiracy. Three of them also face additional charges, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, namely an explosive.

U.S. Attorney for Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge speaks during a press conference outside the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and Courthouse in Grand Rapids, Mich., after a federal jury didn't find four men guilty who were suspected of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer Friday, April 8, 2022. Jurors have acquitted two defendants of all charges in the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer but couldn't agree on a verdict for two others. (Daniel Shular/MLive.com/The Grand Rapids Press via AP) © Provided by Associated Press U.S. Attorney for Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge speaks during a press conference outside the Gerald R. Ford Federal Building and Courthouse in Grand Rapids, Mich., after a federal jury didn't find four men guilty who were suspected of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer Friday, April 8, 2022. Jurors have acquitted two defendants of all charges in the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer but couldn't agree on a verdict for two others. (Daniel Shular/MLive.com/The Grand Rapids Press via AP)

Prosecutors said the group was steeped in anti-government extremism and furious over Whitmer’s pandemic restrictions. There was evidence of a crudely built “shoot house” to practice going in and out of her vacation home, and a night ride by Croft, Fox and covert operatives to check the property.

But defense lawyers portrayed the men as credulous weekend warriors, often stoned on marijuana and prone to big, wild talk. They said FBI agents and informants tricked and cajoled the men into targeting the governor.

During closing arguments a week ago, Fox’s attorney, Christopher Gibbons, said the plan was “utter nonsense,” and he pleaded with jurors to be the “firewall” against the government.

Harris was the only defendant to testify in his own defense, repeatedly telling jurors “absolutely not” when asked if he had targeted the governor.

2 Michigan governor kidnap plot suspects found not guilty; mistrial declared for other 2

  2 Michigan governor kidnap plot suspects found not guilty; mistrial declared for other 2 Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer expressed concern that the outcome of the kidnap plot case may encourage future extremists.The jury acquitted Daniel Harris on all four counts, and Brandon Caserta was acquitted on the one count of kidnapping conspiracy — so both men are free to go. The jury deadlocked on charges against Adam Fox and Barry Croft, so a mistrial was declared for those defendants.

“I think what the FBI did is unconscionable," Caserta's attorney, Michael Hills, said outside court. "And I think the jury just sent them a message loud and clear that these tactics — we’re not going to condone what they’ve done here.”

FILE - This file booking photo provided by the Delaware Department of Justice shows Barry Croft Jr.  Two of four men were acquitted Friday, April 8, 2022 of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, motivated by fury at the Democrat’s tough COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic.   The jury’s verdicts against Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were read in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the case presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Jurors said they couldn’t agree on verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. (Delaware Department of Justice via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - This file booking photo provided by the Delaware Department of Justice shows Barry Croft Jr. Two of four men were acquitted Friday, April 8, 2022 of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, motivated by fury at the Democrat’s tough COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic. The jury’s verdicts against Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were read in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the case presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Jurors said they couldn’t agree on verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. (Delaware Department of Justice via AP, File)

He said Whitmer was “never in any danger.”

Gibbons said the acquittals of Harris and Caserta demonstrated serious shortcomings in the government's case.

“We’ll be ready for another trial. ... We’ll eventually get what we wanted out of this, which is the truth and the justice I think Adam is entitled to,” Gibbons said.

Meanwhile, Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist said the “outcome is disappointing.” Whitmer's office released a tough reaction from the governor's chief of staff, JoAnne Huls.

“The plot to kidnap and kill a governor may seem like an anomaly. But we must be honest about what it really is: The result of violent, divisive rhetoric that is all too common across our country,” Huls said. “There must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes. Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened.”

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has a chilling message for America

  Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has a chilling message for America Trial for Michigan militia members accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer ends with no convictions. That sends a dangerous message.“Honey, I’m making explosives, can you get away from me, please?”

FILE - In a photo provided by the Kent County Sheriff, Adam Dean Fox is shown in a booking photo.   Two of four men were acquitted Friday, April 8, 2022 of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, motivated by fury at the Democrat’s tough COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic.   The jury’s verdicts against Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were read in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the case presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Jurors said they couldn’t agree on verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. (Kent County Sheriff via AP File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In a photo provided by the Kent County Sheriff, Adam Dean Fox is shown in a booking photo. Two of four men were acquitted Friday, April 8, 2022 of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, motivated by fury at the Democrat’s tough COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic. The jury’s verdicts against Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were read in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the case presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Jurors said they couldn’t agree on verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. (Kent County Sheriff via AP File)

Deliberations resumed earlier Friday with a court employee handing jurors a large plastic bag containing pennies, known as evidence exhibit 291. The pennies were requested before jurors went home Thursday.

FILE- In a photo provided by the Kent County Sheriff, Brandon Caserta is shown in a booking photo.  Two of four men were acquitted Friday, April 8, 2022 of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, motivated by fury at the Democrat’s tough COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic.   The jury’s verdicts against Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were read in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the case presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Jurors said they couldn’t agree on verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr.  (Kent County Sheriff via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE- In a photo provided by the Kent County Sheriff, Brandon Caserta is shown in a booking photo. Two of four men were acquitted Friday, April 8, 2022 of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, motivated by fury at the Democrat’s tough COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic. The jury’s verdicts against Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were read in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the case presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Jurors said they couldn’t agree on verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. (Kent County Sheriff via AP, File)

Pennies taped to a commercial-grade firework were intended to act like shrapnel against Whitmer's security team, according to the government.

The trial covered 20 days since March 8, including jury selection, evidence, final arguments and jury deliberations. Croft is from Bear, Delaware, while the others are from Michigan.

Whitmer, a Democrat, wasn't a trial witness and didn't attend. She rarely talks publicly about the plot, though she referred to “surprises” during her term that seemed like “something out of fiction” when she filed for reelection on March 17.

EXPLAINER: 2 men in Gov. Whitmer plot could be tried again

  EXPLAINER: 2 men in Gov. Whitmer plot could be tried again DETROIT (AP) — A jury's inability to reach a unanimous verdict for two men charged in a conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer means the federal government can take them to trial again. The jury last week acquitted Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, whom prosecutors described as “soldiers” in the foiled plot, but deadlocked on the alleged leaders, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. It was an extraordinary setback for the government, which claimed the men wanted to trigger a civil war before the 2020 election. © Provided by Associated Press U.S. Attorney for Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge speaks during a press conference outside the Gerald R.

FILE - In a photo provided by the Kent County Sheriff, Daniel Harris is shown in a booking photo.  Two of four men were acquitted Friday, April 8, 2022 of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, motivated by fury at the Democrat’s tough COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic.   The jury’s verdicts against Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were read in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the case presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Jurors said they couldn’t agree on verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. (Kent County Sheriff via AP, File) © Provided by Associated Press FILE - In a photo provided by the Kent County Sheriff, Daniel Harris is shown in a booking photo. Two of four men were acquitted Friday, April 8, 2022 of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020, motivated by fury at the Democrat’s tough COVID-19 restrictions early in the pandemic. The jury’s verdicts against Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were read in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan, in the case presided over by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker. Jurors said they couldn’t agree on verdicts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. (Kent County Sheriff via AP, File)

She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case.

A jury of six women and six men heard the case, as well as four alternates. Little is known about them. Citing privacy, Jonker ordered that they be only identified by numbers. Two jurors were dismissed during the trial because of illness.

The jury pool was drawn from a 22-county region in western and northern Michigan that is largely rural, Republican and conservative. Several people were dismissed after saying they had strong feelings about Whitmer — positive or negative — or the government.

Matthew Schneider, a former U.S. attorney in Detroit, believes prosecutors “could have done a better job” of learning about the backgrounds and personal views of some jurors who were called up near the end of the all-day selection process.

“The government had laid out its case. The jury didn’t believe it,” Schneider said of the verdict.

Separately, authorities in state court are prosecuting eight men who are accused of aiding the group that was on trial in federal court.

___

Find AP’s full coverage of the Whitmer kidnap plot trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer attends an event with President Joe Biden in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Washington. Prosecutors in the trial of four men charged with planning to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are showing jurors profanity-filled messages and social media posts on Thursday, March 10, by two of the men, some months before the FBI got involved in the case.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky) © Provided by Associated Press Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer attends an event with President Joe Biden in the South Court Auditorium on the White House campus, Wednesday, March 9, 2022, in Washington. Prosecutors in the trial of four men charged with planning to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are showing jurors profanity-filled messages and social media posts on Thursday, March 10, by two of the men, some months before the FBI got involved in the case.(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

___

White reported from Detroit. Associated Press reporters Sara Burnett in Chicago; David Eggert in Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Mike Householder in Detroit contributed to this report.

EXPLAINER: 2 men in Gov. Whitmer plot could be tried again .
DETROIT (AP) — A jury's inability to reach a unanimous verdict for two men charged in a conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer means the federal government can take them to trial again. The jury last week acquitted Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, whom prosecutors described as “soldiers” in the foiled plot, but deadlocked on the alleged leaders, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. It was an extraordinary setback for the government, which claimed the men wanted to trigger a civil war before the 2020 election. © Provided by Associated Press U.S. Attorney for Western District of Michigan Andrew Birge speaks during a press conference outside the Gerald R.

usr: 1
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