4th day of deliberations starts in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Jurors got a quick pep talk from a judge as they entered a fourth day of deliberations Thursday in the trial of four men charged with coming up with a scheme to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

“We don’t have a lot to do except ring the opening bell and send you back to complete the work you’ve started or get as far as you can on it until you need us next,” U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said. “We wish you all the very best.“

The jury so far this week has not signaled how its deliberations are progressing, asking only for a definition of “weapon” and requesting trial transcripts, sticky notes and paperclips. Transcripts were turned down as is custom.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are charged with a kidnapping conspiracy. Three of them also face additional charges, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, namely an explosive.

The trial has covered 19 days since March 8, including 13 days of testimony.

The evidence included testimony from undercover agents, a crucial informant and two men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and pointed a finger at the others. Prosecutors said the group was steeped in anti-government extremism and angry over Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions.

The men trained with a crudely built “shoot house” to replicate her vacation home in September 2020, according to testimony.

Defense lawyers, however, said any scheme was the creation of government agents who were embedded in the group and manipulated the men.

Croft is from Bear, Delaware, while the others are from Michigan.

Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely talks publicly about the plot, though she referred to “surprises” during her term that seemed like “something out of fiction” when she filed for reelection on March 17.

She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case.

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Find AP’s full coverage of the Whitmer kidnap plot trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial

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White reported from Detroit.

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