Two men have been found not guilty by the jury during their trial after being charged with conspiracy to kidnap Michigan’s Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.
The jury has not yet reached a decision on the two other defendants charged in the case, however.
Jurors found Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta not guilty in the federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
They failed to reach a unanimous verdict for Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr.
“I know it’s tough,” U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker, who presided over the case, told the jury after they repeatedly could not reach a decision.
“We all know it’s tough,” Jonker continued.
“It’s important to reach unanimity if you can.
“If you just can’t see it, then that’s what we need to hear eventually as your final answer.”
“Before that’s the final answer, I would like you to go back and make another effort to see if you can come to an agreement on issues you are stuck on as a group,” he added.
“It is not unusual to come back somewhere along the line of deliberations and say ‘we tried, but couldn’t get there,’” the judge said.
“At least not on everything.”
The case had many problems.
For instance, in July 2021 the FBI agent at the center of the case was arrested for assaulting his wife after a swingers party.
According to The Detroit News:
“An FBI agent at the center of the investigation into the plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer is accused of smashing his wife’s head against a nightstand and choking her after a dispute stemming from their attendance at a swingers’ party, according to court records.
“Special Agent Richard Trask, 39, of Kalamazoo, was charged Monday with assault with intent to do great bodily harm, less than murder following the alleged incident Sunday.”
Defense attorneys told the jury their clients were weekend warriors prone to talking big but they were all talk.
They claimed FBI undercover agents and informants tricked and cajoled the men into agreeing to a conspiracy.
JUST IN – Two men were found not guilty of “attempted kidnapping” of Governor Whitmer, and a mistrial has been declared for the other counts.
— Disclose.tv (@disclosetv) April 8, 2022
GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — 2 acquitted, jury hung on 2 more in Whitmer kidnap plot.https://t.co/uOsRPO7nMd
— Heidi Przybyla (@HeidiNBC) April 8, 2022
Breaking News: Jurors acquitted two men of conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan. The jurors said they were deadlocked on similar charges against two other men in the closely watched domestic terror case. https://t.co/dZXSuGxy79
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 8, 2022
From The AP:
In his closing argument on April 1, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said Croft wanted to test the explosive as a possible weapon to use against Whitmer’s security team. He quoted him as saying the pennies would be so hot they could go “right through your skin.”
The trial now has covered 20 days since March 8, including jury selection, evidence, final arguments and jury deliberations.
Prosecutors offered testimony from undercover agents, a crucial informant and two men who pleaded guilty to the plot. Jurors also read and heard secretly recorded conversations, violent social media posts and chat messages.
Prosecutors said the group was steeped in anti-government extremism and angry over Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Defense lawyers, however, said any scheme was the creation of government agents who were embedded in the group and manipulated the men.