A federal jury found two men not guilty and deadlocked on two others in a trial accusing them of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. It was a defeat for prosecutors who said the defendants were angry with the Democratic governor’s policies to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, reports the Wall Street Journal. The jury found Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris not guilty and failed to reach a verdict for Adam Fox and Barry Croft. Prosecutors said they would seek a retrial of Fox and Croft. Prosecutors alleged that the men were associated with a militia group called the Wolverine Watchmen, which conducted combat training and formulated plans to kidnap Whitmer.
Prosecutors said, the group had discussed shooting Whitmer when she opened the door of her home, trying her for treason and executing her or putting her in a boat and abandoning her in Lake Michigan. Defense attorneys said the government entrapped the men by orchestrating the plot, which wouldn’t have advanced as far as it did without goading from an informant. Jurors told Judge Robert Jonker on Friday they had reached a verdict on some charges but not others. Judge Jonker told the jury to continue deliberating. By Friday afternoon, the jury said it was unable to reach a decision on Fox and Croft. Two of six men originally charged pleaded guilty and testified that they and others willingly joined the plan to kidnap the governor. Ty Garbin, a former airplane mechanic, was sentenced to six years and three months in prison. The trial centered on whether enough evidence showed the four men intended to carry through with plans to kidnap Whitmer. The case relied significantly on testimony of an informant who tipped law enforcement to the group’s activities.