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Former U.S. Attorney reacts to Whitmer kidnapping case as jury deliberations continue

Posted at 6:57 AM, Apr 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-05 06:57:30-04

(WXYZ) — Day two of jury deliberations will begin Tuesday in the trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Jurors deliberated until 4:30 p.m. on Monday and all that came out of it was a question. Jurors asked the judge for the definition of a weapon. Three out of the four defendants are facing weapons charges.

There were 13 days of testimony and two narratives spun about the group of four men who are accused of trying to kidnap Whitmer.

Prosecutors say Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris hated Whitmer over the state's COVID-19 restrictions. So much so that they planned, trained, and discussed a destructive plot to capture her and create enough chaos to sway the 2020 presidential election.

"The theory is don't judge a book by its cover. Defense is saying we talked bad about the governor but look at what we did. We didn't do a whole lot. The government is saying don't look at just what they said. Their actions were to gather money for a bomb, they looked under a bridge and went to the governor's residence and scoped it out," former U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider said.

According to Schneider, to prove there was an actual conspiracy, prosecutors will have had to show there was a "mutual understanding, either spoken or unspoken," between two or more people in the group.

The defense says undercover FBI agents were calling the shots and there was no real plan.

Croft, Fox and Harris are also facing charges for conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction in the plot.

Clinical to proving their guilt are two key witnesses – Kaleb Franks and Ty Garbin. Both pleaded guilty to taking part in the plot and testified for the prosecution. 32 other witnesses have testified.

"They have to convince the jury this wasn't the government's idea, and even if it was part of the idea they weren't really responsible for this," Schneider said.

It seems the jury is hung up on the weapons of mass destruction charge. Prosecutors say the men were looking to build and buy explosives.

Jury deliberation will resume Tuesday in Grand Rapids until 4:30 p.m.