VERDICT: 2 men found not guilty in Whitmer kidnap plot trial, mistrial declared for other defendants

Posted at 7:00 AM, Apr 11, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-11 07:00:23-04

(WXYZ) — The jury has reached a partial verdict in the trial for the men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta have been found not guilty in the case and a mistrial has been declared for the other defendants with the jury unable to come to a unanimous decision.

After a year and a half behind bars, 24-year-old Daniel Harris of Lake Orion is now free.

"It's pretty incredible. He's so happy. He's gone with his family ... his mom and dad were here every day, so it's just an incredible thing to have him home," said Julia Kelly, attorney for Daniel Harris, who was found not guilty.

Today is Brandon Caserta's birthday, he's also now free and with family.

"Our governor was never in any danger and I think the jury, even though they didn’t get all of it, they smelled enough of it,” said Michael Hills, defense attorney for Brandon Caserta.

The jury's outcome Friday is a stunning upset for the federal government.

The two other defendants, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., remain in custody. According to a statement to U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge, the pair will face re-trial:

“Although we are disappointed the jury did not reach decisions in our favor, we continue to respect the jury trial system whatever the outcome. And we thank the jury for their service. Two defendants now await re-trial and, for that reason, we have no further statement at this time.”

“I think that the trial here has demonstrated that there’s some serious shortcomings in the case,” said Christopher Gibbons, defense attorney for Adam Fox.

The governor's office also released a statement following the jury's decision, saying in part, "Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened."

Matthew Schneider, a former U.S. attorney said, “We can’t read this as anything other than that the government failed to prove its case — no one should ever interpret this as if it’s ok to do harm to Governor Whitmer."

The counts and jury decisions for Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris are as follows:

Adam Fox was charged with two counts. One count of kidnapping conspiracy and a count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.

Count: 1 | Kidnapping conspiracy
NO VERDICT

Count: 2 | Conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction
NO VERDICT

Barry Croft Jr. was charged with three counts. One count of kidnapping conspiracy, a count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and a count of possession of an unregistered destructive device.

Count: 1 | Kidnapping conspiracy
NO VERDICT

Count: 2 | Conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction
NO VERDICT

Count: 3 |Possession of an unregistered destructive device
NO VERDICT

Daniel Harris was charged with four counts. One count of kidnapping conspiracy, a count of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, a count of possession of an unregistered destructive device, and a count of possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle.

Count: 1 | Kidnapping conspiracy
VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

Count: 2 | Conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction
VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

Count: 3 | Possession of an unregistered destructive device
VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

Count: 4 | Possession of an unregistered short-barreled rifle
VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

Brandon Caserta was charged with one count of kidnapping conspiracy.

Count: 1 | Kidnapping conspiracy
VERDICT: NOT GUILTY

Jury deliberations started Monday, and the defense wrapped up its closing arguments last Friday after a 14-day trial. In all, 34 witnesses testified, including two former defendants who pleaded guilty and were star witnesses for the prosecution.

One of the defendants – Daniel Harris – testified in his own defense. He was the only one of the four men charged who testified.

All of the men were arrested in October 2020 after the government said they were planning to kidnap Whitmer before the 2020 election.

The jury was made up of six men, six women, and three alternates in a separate room.