A federal judge on Thursday ordered a new trial for the two alleged ringleaders of a 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D), nearly three months after a jury deadlocked over charges against the two and found another two defendants in the case not guilty.
Adam Fox, 39, and Barry Croft, 46, have both been charged with kidnapping conspiracy and agreeing to use a weapon of mass destruction, after prosecutors say they organized a group of anti-government extremists united by anger over Covid restrictions and spent “hours and hours” detailing their alleged plan to an FBI informant.
U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker rejected requests from defense attorneys to toss the charges, instead saying in court Thursday that a new trial should start “as soon as we can,” according to the Detroit News.
The men could face life in prison if convicted.
Whitmer has largely avoided making public comments about the case.
A jury failed to reach unanimous verdicts on the charges against Fox and Croft during an April trial, but returned not guilty verdicts on all counts against two other men. Prosecutors have painted the men as dangerous far-right extremists who were serious about their plan to kidnap a governor they saw as a “tyrant,” but defense attorneys say the charges are nonsense, claiming their clients were never serious but wound up entrapped in a conspiracy by an FBI informant who sparked the kidnapping idea. According to prosecutors, the plot involved snatching Whitmer from her vacation home before holding a sham “treason trial” for the governor over her Covid restrictions. The plotters then planned to put Whitmer on a boat and leave her adrift in Lake Michigan, prosecutors said. The FBI informant first became aware of the Michigan group in June 2020, when he attended a “national militia meeting” of far-right groups in Ohio. The men were arrested in October 2020 after they allegedly discussed raising $4,000 to buy an explosive device to blow up a bridge, which would help them escape police after abducting Whitmer.
Two other men indicted in the case, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, pleaded guilty, saying they hoped to spark a civil war with the kidnapping that would have somehow prevented President Joe Biden from assuming office.