Jury hears evidence in last trial connected to plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
(AP) - A jury hearing evidence against three men began deliberations Thursday in the last trial connected to a 2020 plan to kidnap Michigan’s governor and inspire a civil war among anti-government extremists.
William Null, twin brother Michael Null and Eric Molitor are the last of 14 men to face charges in state or federal court.
They’re charged with supporting leaders of the scheme by participating in military-style drills and traveling to see Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan. The key players, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr, were convicted of a kidnapping conspiracy last year in federal court.
In the latest trial, the jury heard 14 days of testimony in Antrim County, which is the location of Whitmer’s second home, 185 miles (297 kilometers) north of the state Capitol.
“Whatever decision it is will be respected by everybody,” Judge Charles Hamlyn told the courtroom moments after giving final instructions to the jury.
Jurors went home without a verdict after asking for a transcript of a small portion of testimony. The judge said it would be produced by Friday but additional requests would likely be turned down.
“I’m going to tell you to rely on your collective memory,” Hamlyn said.
Molitor, 39, and William Null, 41, testified in their own defense, admitting they had attended gun drills and taken rides to check Whitmer’s property. But William Null said he and his brother broke away a day later when talk turned to explosives. Molitor said Fox was “incredibly dumb” and wouldn’t pull off a kidnapping.
Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin urged jurors to not be swayed.
“If you help in whole or even in part, you’ve satisfied that element” of the crime, Rollstin said in his closing argument Wednesday. “Was he helping him to plan? Was he helping him prepare? The answer is absolutely.”
Michael Null, 41, did not testify and his lawyer took the unusual step of declining to question any witnesses during the trial. Tom Siver said Michael Null did nothing wrong.
Informants and undercover FBI agents were inside the group for months before arrests were made in October 2020. Whitmer was not physically harmed.
Nine men have been convicted in state or federal court, either through guilty pleas or at three other trials, while two have been acquitted.
After the plot was thwarted, Whitmer blamed then-President Donald Trump, saying he had given “comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” Out of office, Trump called the kidnapping plan a “fake deal” in 2022.
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