DETROIT (AP) — A judge on Thursday set Aug. 9 for a second trial for two men charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
A jury in April acquitted two other men but couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict for Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. They were described as leaders of a wild scheme to kidnap the Democratic governor at her vacation home ahead of the 2020 election, trigger a civil war and prevent Joe Biden from winning the presidency.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker set a trial date after turning down requests to clear Fox and Croft on conspiracy and weapons charges.
It was a long shot: An acquittal would fit only if Jonker believed the evidence was insufficient to convict the pair.
“We don’t know what the jury was thinking. … There’s enough here to say that a rational jury could still go against Mr. Fox, go against Mr. Croft, even considering the outcome with respect for Mr. Harris and Mr. Caserta,” Jonker said.
He was referring to Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, who were acquitted.
The August trial would occur a week after the Republican primary when voters choose Whitmer’s GOP opponent in the Nov. 8 election.
Prosecutors said the group was steeped in anti-government extremism and furious over Whitmer’s COVID-19 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 undercover agents to check the property.
Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks both pleaded guilty and testified for the government.
Defense lawyers portrayed the men as weekend warriors, often stoned on marijuana and prone to big, wild talk. They said agents and informants cajoled the men into targeting the governor in a sting operation.
Croft is from Bear, Delaware, while the others are from Michigan.