2 men acquitted in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer; Jury deadlocks on 2 others

The jury returned partial verdicts in the cases of four men on Friday accused of conspiracy kidnapping Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Two of the defendants were acquitted of all charges, while the jury stuck on two other defendants, resulting in a mistrial on those charges.

Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were both found not guilty. The charges against Adam Fox and Barry Croft, Jr. were declared “not in conviction” and Judge James Jonker declared a mistrial on those charges.

On Friday morning, the jurors sent a note to the judge saying they had agreed on several points but were deadlocked on others. The judge sent her back to continue her deliberations, encouraging her to “take a different look, a fresh look.” But the jury returned a few hours later and said they were still unable to reach a verdict in some cases.

The jury, made up of six men and six women, selected a foreman last week and began deliberating on Monday after two weeks of mostly prosecution testimony.

Fox, Croft, Harris and Caserta were charged with conspiracy and prosecutors accused of being upset about it COVID-19 Restrictions imposed by the Democratic governor, trying to ignite a civil war. Three of the men were also charged with gun violence.

Two other suspects had previously pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators.

LR: Brandon Caserta, Barry Croft, Adam Dean Fox and Daniel Harris.

Kent County Sheriff, Delaware Department of Justice via AP

“They were full of anger,” Kessler told the jury Closing speeches last Friday, the 15th day of a hearing in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “They were paranoid because they knew what they were doing was wrong and they feared they could get caught.”

The men were arrested in October 2020 while trying to raise $4,000 for an explosive that trial evidence said could blow up a bridge and impede police following a kidnapping. Fox made two trips to northern Michigan to explore the area.

Just a suspect Harris, decided to testify in his own defense, and the four men deny any plan to take Whitmer to her vacation home. Defense attorneys insist they were under the spell of whistleblowers and agents who made them say and do violent, provocative things.

Fox’s attorney, Christopher Gibbons, said Fox was a hapless man living in the basement of a vacuum store near Grand Rapids, smoking marijuana whenever possible and completely incapable of leading the wild plot.

“The plan was complete nonsense. It wasn’t real to Adam Fox. It was LARP,” Gibbons said, using an acronym for live-action role-playing game. “Adam Fox is usually impaired. He’s just playing his game. … A person cannot inadvertently enter into a conspiracy.”

Attorneys for Harris and Caserta stressed that neither of the men went to Elk Rapids with Croft and Fox to police Whitmer’s home.

Defense attorney Julia Kelly said Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, both of whom testified against the group, were “liars” despite pleading guilty and facing jail time.

After the verdict was announced, the judge said Harris and Caserta could go. As for Fox and Croft, he said they were being remanded in custody because the case against them was not solved.

The accused and the accused

Because the jury was deadlocked on the charges against Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., they were declared “no verdict” and the judge declared a mistrial on those counts.

Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted of all charges:

On Count 1: Conspiracy to kidnap: Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were both found NOT GUILTY.

On Count 2: Weapons of Mass Destruction: Daniel Harris was found NOT GUILTY

On Count 3: Possession of an unregistered destructive device: Daniel Harris was found NOT GUILTY

On Count 4: Possession of a short-barreled rifle: Daniel Harris was found NOT GUILTY

Cassandra Gauthier contributed to this report.

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