The jury will hear the final arguments Friday in the trial of four people accused of plotting to assassinate Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
The jury will hear the final arguments Friday in the trial of four men accused of conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, a case involving two people who provided information, undercover agents, secret recordings and confessions, and two accomplices.
Only one defendant, Daniel Harris, chose to testify in his own defense. On Thursday, however, his denial of any crime was met with an aggressive cross-examination in which prosecutors used his own words to show his contempt for Whitmer and even to suggest how he could be killed.
Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr. and Brandon Caserta declined to testify, and defense attorneys called only a few witnesses. The four have denied any plans to take Whitmer to his holiday home in the fall of 2020, although they have been angry with the government and the restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The men were arrested in October 2020 amid talks to raise 4,000 for an explosive that could blow up a bridge and stop police after the abduction, according to trial evidence. Fox twice traveled to northern Michigan to scout the area.
Defense attorneys, however, insisted that they were under the spell of informants and agents who were able to say and do their violent, provocative things.
Harris repeatedly answered “no” when his lawyer asked if he was part of a plot. His testimony was dangerous because he had faced numerous challenges from prosecutors who had been testifying against the group for days.
Harris and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jonathan Roth would occasionally talk to each other. At one point Harris said, “The next question.”
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker later said, “Everyone can take it one step further.
Roth was confronted with his own chat messages about posing as a pizza deliveryman and killing Whitmer at his door. He reminded Harris, a former Marine, that he had worked with explosives while training with the group, especially in Luther, Michigan, in September 2020, about a month before their arrest.
Roth plays a conversation with Croft that militias overthrow governments in various states and talk about “breaking a few eggs” if necessary.
“When this guy talks about killing people with you at a dinner, you don’t get up and leave, are you, sir?” Roth asked. “You don’t say, ‘This party is not for me,’ are you, sir?”
“No,” Harris replied.
According to the government, a “shoot house” that resembled Whitmer’s second home was a key part of Luther’s training weekend. Harris admitted that he had brought the material but said that he had not made it with his house in mind.
He did not participate in the evening ride to Elk Rapids, Michigan, to scout Whitmer’s house and a bridge over the same weekend. Harris said he bought cheap beer and cigarettes for 200 so he could go back to camp and “hang out” with others.
Two other men, Ty Garbin and Caleb Franks, pleaded guilty and cooperated with investigators. Garbin said last week that the party had acted voluntarily and hoped the attacks before the election would cause national unrest and prevent Joe Biden from winning the presidency.
Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely spoke publicly about the abduction plot, although he did mention “surprises” during his term that seemed “out of the ordinary” when he filed for re-election on March 17.
He blamed former President Donald Trump for expressing anger over the coronavirus ban and for refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those accused in the case. Whitmer says Trump was involved in the Jan. 6 Capital riots.
Find the full AP coverage of the Whitmer Kidnap Plot Trial here: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial
Report from White Detroit.