GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — The third day of deliberations ended Wednesday without a verdict in a trial that centers on a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker urged jurors to keep their thoughts about the case private when away from the courthouse.
“We’re obviously at a delicate time,” he said. “You’re in the midst of deliberations. You now know a lot more about the case than you ever expected to know and a lot more about each other’s views than you ever expected to know.”
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.
The trial has covered 18 days since March 8, including 13 days of testimony.
Prosecutors said the conspiracy against Whitmer was fueled by anti-government extremism and anger over her COVID-19 restrictions. The men trained with a crudely built “shoot house” to replicate her vacation home in September 2020, according to testimony.
Fox and Croft, traveled to Elk Rapids, Michigan, that same weekend to see the location of the governor’s lakeside property and a nearby bridge, evidence showed. Harris and Caserta have been described as “soldiers” in the scheme.
Another man, Ty Garbin, who pleaded guilty, said the goal was to get Whitmer before the fall election and create enough chaos to create a civil war and stop Joe Biden from winning the presidency.
Defense lawyers attacked the government’s investigation and the use of a crucial informant, Dan Chappel. They claimed Chappel was the real leader, taking direction from the FBI and keeping the group on edge while recording them for months.
Croft is from Bear, Delaware, while the others are from Michigan.
Whitmer, a Democrat, 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.
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.
White reported from Detroit.