The two remaining defendants in the plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be retried.
According to WOOD, Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker of Grand Rapids has denied a motion from Adam Fox, 38, of Potterville, and Barry Croft, 46, of Delaware, seeking a judgment of acquittal.
In April, a jury acquitted two other suspects, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, on all charges related to the case. However, that same jury was deadlocked about Fox and Croft, who will now face retrial on charges of kidnapping conspiracy and weapons of mass destruction.
During a hearing on the motions to dismiss Thursday, Jonker determined that the acquittals of Harris and Caserta were not enough to secure acquittals for Fox and Croft and that a new jury needed to consider the evidence against them and render its own verdict.
"We don't know what the jury was thinking. ... There's enough here to say that a rational jury could still go against Mr. Fox, go against Mr. Croft, even considering the outcome with respect for Mr. Harris and Mr. Caserta,” Jonker said.
Though the government's suggestion that Fox, Croft, Harris, and Caserta were domestic terrorists took a tremendous hit when it failed to secure a single conviction in the case back in April, assistant U.S. attorney Nils Kessler reminded Jonker that two other suspects in the case, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, had already submitted guilty pleas and had cooperated with the investigation. Garbin is currently serving a six-year sentence as a result, and Franks will be sentenced at a later date.
The defense, on the other hand, has long alleged that the plot to kidnap Whitmer was actually the result of FBI entrapment and that FBI agents involved in the group known as Wolverine Watchmen goaded the suspects into doing and saying things they otherwise wouldn't have said or done. The defense also alleged that three FBI agents associated with the case were compromised, and the prosecution never put any of those three agents on the stand.
The new trial for Fox and Croft will begin on August 9, and federal prosecutors estimate that it should last about two weeks.
In the original trial, the federal government argued that the four suspects — outraged over Whitmer's response to COVID — plotted to kidnap the governor at her vacation home, place her in a boat off the shore of Lake Michigan, and then either kill her or take her to Wisconsin to put her on "trial."