Two men charged with conspiring to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were found not guilty by a federal jury Friday.
Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker, according to the Associated Press (AP). The jury could not come to a conclusion on charges against two more men, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. As a result, Judge Jonker declared a mistrial, CNN reported.
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — 2 men acquitted of conspiracy in foiled plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer; jury deadlocks on 2 alleged ringleaders
— David Eggert (@DavidEggert00) April 8, 2022
Defense attorneys accused the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) of having “conceived and controlled every aspect” in the kidnapping plot, the Washington Examiner reported. At least a dozen FBI informants were planted into the defendants’ groups in 2020 who shared encrypted messages and secret recordings, according to MLive.
Attorneys described defendants as weekend warriors who were often not sober during their plotting. They argued their clients would never have conspired to kidnap the governor had the embedded FBI agents not encouraged them, the Examiner reported. (RELATED: Grand Jury For Gov. Whitmer Kidnapping Attempt Adds ‘Weapon Of Mass Destruction’ Charges)
Fox testified he met with an undercover FBI agent posing as a bomb maker known as “Red,” MLive reported.
Could not be more thrilled to watch the FBI lose the Whitmer kidnapping case. There was no plot, they made up the whole thing and paid an informant to entrap some morons.
— Robby Soave (@robbysoave) April 8, 2022
“I think what the FBI did is unconscionable,” defense attorney Michael Hills said, according to the AP. “I think the jury just sent them a message loud and clear that these tactics — we’re not going to condone what they’ve done here.”
Ten charges were included in the case, with all four men facing kidnapping and conspiracy charges.
“Obviously we’re disappointed with the outcome,” U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said, according to the AP. “We have two defendants that are awaiting trial and we’ll get back to work on that.”
The plot to kidnap Whitmer formed in 2020 motivated by her early COVID-19 protocols, but was never carried out, the outlet reported. (RELATED: Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Files Lawsuit To Make Abortion A Constitutional Right)
One man involved, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty to kidnapping and conspiracy charges in January 2021, and was sentenced to over six years in prison.
Whitmer was not present for the trial, according to The New York Times.