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2 defendants acquitted in Michigan governor kidnapping case;  trial declared invalid for 2 others

Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta faced federal charges for allegedly conspiring to kidnap the Democratic governor. The four defendants, who have pleaded not guilty, face life in prison if convicted of conspiracy to kidnap.

Harris and Caserta were found not guilty of kidnapping conspiracy. The jury also found Harris not guilty on other counts. The jury was unable to reach a verdict for Fox and Croft, after which U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker declared a mistrial for those defendants.

U.S. Attorney Andrew Birge said in a statement to CNN that the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Michigan was “disappointed” with the jury’s decision but respected the jury trial system. He added that two defendants were awaiting a new trial and therefore would not comment further.

Whitmer’s chief of staff said in a statement that “the governor remains focused on her job” in the state and that “there must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes.”

“The plot to kidnap and kill a governor may seem like an anomaly. But we have to be honest about what it really is: the result of violent and confrontational rhetoric that is all too common in our country,” said chief of staff JoAnne Huls. “There must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes. Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened.”

The indictment alleged that in 2020, six men charged in the case conspired with others to “seize, kidnap, kidnap and unlawfully carry away, and hold for ransom and reward” Whitmer. Authorities said the men planned to kidnap the Democratic governor from a vacation home and blow up a bridge to delay law enforcement, but they were caught first.

Two defendants had previously pleaded guilty and testified at trial against the other four.

Prosecutors had described the alleged plans in stark terms.

“They said they wanted to kidnap the governor. They trained to kidnap the governor. They locked down his house in the middle of the night. They mapped it out. They planned it. They gathered weapons and obligations,” prosecutor Nils Kessler said during the closing. disputes last week.

Kessler said convicted co-conspirators Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, who testified at trial, “testified to you that this conspiracy was real.”

Defense attorneys claimed that federal law enforcement fabricated the alleged kidnapping plot through confidential informants and undercover agents.

Fox, who was poor, unfocused and had little tactical ability, would never have found his way to the alleged crimes without the help of a paid confidential informant who backed Fox as the ringleader of the conspiracy, said Fox’s attorney told the jury.

Croft’s attorney, Joshua Blanchard, also argued that federal law enforcement agents fabricated the investigation to advance their personal careers and challenged the jury to correct their error.

“This investigation has been embarrassing and we need to tell them that this is not how our country works. This is not how our justice system is supposed to work. We cannot use people like Barry Croft, and Adam Fox, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta We cannot use them as pawns to advance our interests.

Blanchard acknowledged that Croft said offensive things on the secret tapes, but called it “crazy stoned talk”.

During the trial, FBI agents raided a residence on the outskirts of Detroit last week due to threats made against the judge, two defense attorneys and at least one potential witness.

This story has been updated with additional details and statements.

CNN’s Lauren del Valle contributed to this report.

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