Four men are charged by Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot

On Friday, a prosecutor asked jurors to convict four men for plotting to kidnap the Michigan governor.

Four men are charged by Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot

Gretchen Whitmer said they were anti-government extremists, "filled with rage", and intent to spark civil war during the last weeks of the highly polarizing 2020 general elections.

Nils Kessler, Assistant U.S. attorney, summarized the evidence on the 15th Day of Trial. He traced the group's secretly recorded statements as well as the testimony from agents, an extraordinary informant, and two stars witnesses who pleaded guilty.

In the meantime, defense attorneys criticized the government's case. One claimed that the men were made "terrorists by rogue investigators," while another appealed to jurors for a halt to the FBI.

After hours of hearing closing arguments, the tired jury announced that its deliberations would begin Monday.

Kessler's final remarks began by saying that there are limits to the scorn of people in power.

"If you don’t like your elected representatives you can vote them out at a ballot box. Kessler explained to the jury that this is what makes America great. "What we cannot do is kidnap, kill or blow up their bodies. This is also what makes America great.

They are charged with conspiracy to kidnap. Three others are also facing charges related to weapons.

According to evidence at trial, the men were accused of trying to raise $4,000 to buy an explosive that could detonate a bridge or stymie police responding in a kidnapping. Fox traveled twice to northern Michigan to survey the area. One of the trips featured Croft and other undercover agents.

Kessler stated that the group was there to start the "boogaloo", a reference to a U.S. Civil War, by kidnapping Whitmer.

"That's what binds these defendants together. ... "They were filled with rage," said the prosecutor. They were paranoid because it was obvious that they were illegally doing something and they were afraid of being caught.

Although the four men denied any plot to kidnap Whitmer from her vacation house, they clearly resent the government and the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ty Garbin, who pleaded guilty to the charges and testified against them, stated that the goal was to get Whitmer in time for the election, and to create enough chaos so Joe Biden could not win the presidency.

Kessler took jurors back to summer and fall 2020 events: a national meeting in Ohio of militias, training in Wisconsin, Michigan, and a September night excursion on Birch Lake to inspect the bridge and governor's property.

According to evidence, the men had built a primitive "shoothouse" in Luther, Michigan to copy Whitmer's home. They also practiced shooting with guns.

An Army veteran Dan Chappel, who was a former soldier, joined the Wolverine Watchmen to keep his firearm skills. Chappel said he was alarmed to hear about police attacking him and agreed to be an FBI informant.

"Thank God for Dan Chappel. ... Kessler said that he went back at great personal danger."

Jurors had a different perspective than the defense. Christopher Gibbons Fox's attorney, attacked Chappel. He was paid approximately $50,000 by the FBI including expenses. Chappel talked almost daily with Fox for months and recorded their conversations.

Gibbons stated that Fox was a miserable man who lived in the basement of Grand Rapids' vacuum shop smoking marijuana every chance he gets. He was completely incapable of leading the wild plot.

"The plan was complete nonsense. Adam Fox didn't believe it was real. Gibbons stated that he was LARPing, which is an acronym for live-action role playing. "Adam Fox is often impaired. He is just playing his part. It is impossible for anyone to accidentally get into a conspiracy.

He called the government "radicalization."

Gibbons stated, "Inviting citizens they think are vulnerable to a theatre where they are given full senss of who and how they are,"

He said, "That's not acceptable in America." "That's not how it works. They don't make terrorists, so we can arrest them."

Croft, a trucker hailing from Bear, Delaware, posted on social media about hanging governors and treason. He was also repeatedly recorded discussing violence and explosives. Prosecutors pointed out that Croft made four trips to the Midwest by car.

However, his attorney called it "crazy talk from a stoned pirate", referring to marijuana, Croft's threecornered hat and not a plan for Whitmer's attack.

"I'm ashamed of the conduct of the United States' top law enforcement agency. ... Joshua Blanchard said that the investigation was embarrassing.

Harris and Caserta's lawyers stressed that Whitmer was not present at Elk Rapids with Fox and Croft during the Luther training weekend.

Julia Kelly stated that Garbin Franks and Kaleb Franks were both "liars" even though they pleaded guilty to the charges and are now facing prison.

To complement the closing remarks, defense used a large screen. Jurors laughed when Michael Hills displayed a cartoon bobblehead to show that Caserta had allegedly agreed to the kidnapping plan, but was not recorded as saying so.

Whitmer is a Democrat and rarely speaks publicly about the plot. However, she referred to "surprises", which she described as "something out of Fiction" when she filed for reelection .

She blames former President Donald Trump of inciting anger over coronavirus regulations and refusing condemn right-wing extremists such as those who were charged in this case. Whitmer claimed that Trump was complicit with the Jan. 6, Capitol riot.


 

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