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Jury asks for paper clips, sticky notes on day 3 of deliberations in Whitmer kidnap plot trial

Posted at 10:38 PM, Apr 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-06 22:38:12-04

(WXYZ) — Wednesday marked day three of deliberations for the Grand Rapids federal court jury in the trial of the plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Four men are facing up to life in prison if convicted. But the jury is actually deciding 10 different charges, including kidnapping, use of weapons of mass destruction and a gun charge.

The jury today asked for paper clips and sticky notes. The judge gave them to the jury.

The jury has been given transcripts of secret recordings made during the several months of the feds infiltrating the group 2 years ago.

The jury has not been given the full trial transcript of witness testimony. They have been given written jury instructions; those would be the things they would flag.

They heard from more than 30 witnesses, including two who pleaded guilty about participating in the plot, the planning, and the training to kidnap the governor over her COVID restrictions 2 years ago.

The evidence is they did conduct surveillance on the governor’s summer home in Elk Rapids and planned to blow up a nearby bridge to slow law enforcement. It has been extensive. But is it enough?

"Was there a plan? Was there actually a date selected, even a potential date? Was there ... did they ... have a plan to do all the steps necessary to kidnap the governor to explode the weapon of mass destruction? I haven't seen any evidence. So that leads to the jury really guessing," said Michael Bullotta, former federal prosecutor.

The jury also has to decide guilty or not guilty in a total of 10 charges.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta are charged with kidnapping conspiracy, up to life if convicted. Three of them also face additional charges, to use a weapon of mass destruction. Two are charged with possession of a bomb, and Harris is charged with possession of an illegal short-barreled rifle.

Some may be easier to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

"You have to make 12 people want the accused to go to prison. That's as simply as I can say that ... but it's so true," said Bullotta.

Judge Robert Jonker said at the beginning of day 3 with the jury out, "I've been a judge for 15 years but I still get a little breathless when we're waiting for a jury."

There’s a possibility of a deadlocked jury, where they can’t agree. Or they can agree on some charges but not others. It's too early to know.

Tomorrow will mark a year and a half ago that the feds and the state arrested everyone involved in several locations around the state.

The deliberations continue tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m.