GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — In what is expected to be one of the final days of the prosecution’s case, four suspects accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer heard more of their own words in court.
The day focused mainly on defendant Brandon Caserta. Several FBI agents involved in executing search warrants on his home, car and place of work testified Tuesday.
Caserta, a self-identified anarchist, had been heard in prior video evidence expressing disdain for law enforcement at the local, state and federal level.
Inside Caserta’s apartment, agents discovered several firearms, tactical equipment. They also found and confiscated several books ranging in titles: “The Case Against the State,” “Practical Anarchy,” “War is a Racket,” “In the Mind of Murderers,” and “U.S. Agenda 21.”
His defense noted that none of the books are considered banned or illegal, and Caserta’s attorney Mike Hills even noted that War is a Racket was authored by retired Marine Corps General Smedley D. Butler, a Medal of Honor recipient.
But the defense’s case was called into question Tuesday by Caserta’s own words. The defendants are claiming entrapment – that the government and their undercover agents pulled the strings of the alleged kidnapping plot, not the militia members. But in a jailhouse interview with Buzzfeed News on August 30, 2021 – months after Caserta’s arrest – he told a reporter that Dan Chappel, an undercover FBI informant who infiltrated the group, didn’t entrap the men.
Caserta mentioned there was “never any communication between me and him.”
“He was never like, ‘hey, you want to kidnap the governor?’” Caserta continues on the recorded call. “He never said anything like that to me.”
The interview blows a hole in Caserta’s defense that FBI agents pushed the militia members into the kidnapping plan.
On cross-examination, Hills noted that Caserta didn’t have much interaction with Chappel, known in the group as ‘Big Dan,’ at all. Hills noted Caserta was not at any of the group’s field training exercises and did not attend any reconnaissance missions.
While prosecutors speculated that they might finish on Tuesday, they said around noon time they would need more time. Prosecutors expect to call their final witness Wednesday morning before resting their case and allowing the defense to begin calling their witnesses.