Four men are being tried for conspiring to kidnap the governor of Michigan

In the early months after the pandemic began, Adam Fox and Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft Jr., and Daniel Harris came up with a plan to seize control of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer was arrested, according to prosecutors.

Four men are being tried for conspiring to kidnap the governor of Michigan

GRAND RAPIDS (Mich.) -- Prosecutors are promising to prove that four men plotted to kidnap Michigan Governor as a response to her aggressive efforts to slow down Covid-19's progress during the first months of the pandemic.

Tuesday was the start of jury selection for a trial in western Michigan federal court that could last over a month. U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker told prospective jurors that this case "isn't your typical criminal case" due to extraordinary allegations about a plot against an elected official.


 

Jonker stressed that potential jurors should forget about personal opinions regarding politics and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's and her administration's responses to Covid-19 must be considered in order to hear the case fairly. After the judge asked questions, two men were disqualified. One man said, "I would probably have been pretty biased."

A few others were also dismissed because of job or family conflicts. This included a nurse who was working during the pandemic. After stating that she had finally planned a vacation, a man who claimed he was following the news about the case closely was dismissed after saying, "I believe they are guilty."

Whitmer began to exchange teasing words with Donald Trump in 2020 over Trump's administration's handling of Covid-19. Her critics, , were protesting regularly at the Michigan Capitol. blocked streets around the statehouse while legally carrying semi-automatic weapons into the building.

Prosecutors claim that during those turbulent times, when stay-home orders were in effect and the economy was limited, Adam Fox and Brandon Caserta and Barry Croft Jr. devised a plan to seize Whitmer.

They are accused of taking crucial steps over several months including secret messaging and gun drills in woods, and a night drive from northern Michigan to search her second home and figure how to blow up the bridge.

According to the FBI, the FBI had infiltrated the group and arrested six men in October 2020. Two of the men, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Frans have pleaded guilty to being key witnesses for government. This will give jurors a better understanding of what was happening.

Garbin said Fox, the alleged leader, wanted the men chip in for $4,000 worth of explosives large enough to demolish a bridge near Whitmer and distract police during kidnapping.

Garbin quoted Caserta saying that "the blood of tyrants must be shed."

Franks and Garbin insist that no member of the group was influenced by agents or undercover informants.

John Smietanka, a former federal prosecutions, stated that the cooperation between the two was not the end of their case. It will come down to credibility of witnesses and the effects of any extrinsic evidence like tapes.

Prosecutors stated that the majority of evidence will consist of the defendants' own words, which they gathered through secret recordings. The government will also provide screenshots of text messages and photos and videos uploaded to social media.

Defense lawyers attacked the case ahead of trial, pointing out the "staggering" use of informants. They denied any conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer, and signaled an "entrapment defense."

Joshua Blanchard, Croft's attorney, stated that agents and snitches recruited defendants, paid for travel, paid hotels, rented cars and produced promotional videos showing explosives. They also purchased equipment, vetted new people, and devised the plans and directed them.

Christopher Gibbons, a defense lawyer, said Fox didn't want to kidnap Whitmer. However, he made "many inflamatory remarks" about Whitmer and the unconstitutional acts he thought were his.

Gibbons stated in court filing that agents and informants were "binding force, catalyst for every event and impassioned speech and almost every suggestion of crime."

Nils Kessler, Assistant U.S. attorney, stated that informants were paid to gather information and not to incite crimes.

"The defendants recorded the things they did," Kessler said. Kessler stated to a judge that this is what makes defendants look guilty.

Smietanka stated that to prove entrapment, one must show that someone was induced by the government to do a crime they wouldn't otherwise be inclined to.

Whitmer, who is running for reelection in 2018, rarely speaks publicly about the case. He is not expected to attend the trial. She charged Trump with "giving comfort" to antigovernment extremeists in 2020, just weeks prior to the fall election.

Whitmer stated last summer that "the plots and threats against my, no matter how troubling, could not deter" him from doing all I could to save as much lives as possible by listening and learning from medical and health professionals.

Eight men are being prosecuted by the state for aiding the group.

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