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2 acquitted, 2 trials overturned in Michigan governor’s kidnapping plot


The jury was deadlocked on charges against two suspects

A jury found two men not guilty Friday on charges related to an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer and a mistrial was sought against two remaining suspects after the jury deadlocked over their charges.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were all arrested in October 2020 following an FBI sting operation against a militia of which they were alleged members, and had openly protested COVID-19 policies. 19 from Whitmer. All four were charged with conspiracy to kidnap. Fox, Croft and Harris were also charged with conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

The jury was deadlocked on all counts against Adam Fox and Barry Croft. The judge declared a mistrial on these charges for these men.

The jury found Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta not guilty on all counts of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Harris was also found not guilty of weapons of mass destruction and illegal firearms.

Whitmer’s office released a statement after the verdict thanking investigators and prosecutors for their work, but said the plot was “the result of violent and confrontational rhetoric that is all too common in our country.”

“There must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes. Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened,” his office said in a statement.

Two other suspects believed to be part of the plot, Kaleb Franks and Ty Garbin, were also arrested and later pleaded guilty to weapons and conspiracy charges.

Federal prosecutors allege the group meticulously planned to kidnap the governor and hold her and others hostage at the state Capitol in Lansing. Investigators said the men allegedly acquired weapons, ammunition and explosives and surveilled the governor’s home.

“The evidence proves that they were all ready to commit the crime,” U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said during closing arguments on April 1.

Undercover FBI agents infiltrated the group and recorded conversations about their alleged plot.

Lawyers for the suspects argued that their clients had no intention of kidnapping Whitmer and that they were coerced by FBI agents.

Defense attorney Christopher Gibbons told the jury that the government’s claims that Fox was the ringleader of the operation were unfounded.

“He’s talking about bad rhetoric from the government. Speak up, it’s just rhetoric,” he said during closing arguments on March 31.

Prosecutors argued they did not entrap any of the accused men because investigators saw the men had an alleged pattern of anti-government and hateful rhetoric, and were serious about carrying out the plot if they were not arrested.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates

ABC News

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