‘There Must Be Accountability’: The Verdict Is in for Two of the Four Men Charged With Plotting to Abduct Michigan’s Governor

This photo combo of images provided by the Kent County Sheriff shows Daniel Harris, left, and Brandon Caserta in booking photos. On Friday, April 8, 2022, jurors acquitted Harris and Caserta of all charges in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, but couldn’t reach verdicts against the two alleged leaders. In addition, Harris was acquitted of charges related to explosives and a gun. (Kent County Sheriff via AP, File)

By Kaishi Chhabra

April 11, 2022

Two men were acquitted on all charges, including kidnapping conspiracy, and a mistrial was declared for the other two defendants after jurors could not come to a unanimous decision.

Last Friday, the federal jury in the trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor in 2020 found two of the four defendants not guilty and deadlocked on the other two, leading to a mistrial.

The defendants were reportedly angry about Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s handling of the pandemic. Court documents say Barry Croft, Adam Fox, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta plotted from June to October 2020 to grab Whitmer at her vacation home in northern Michigan because the governor had imposed statewide restrictions along with other mitigation measures in response to COVID-19. At one point, the state had ranked third worst in the nation for COVID-related cases and deaths. Whitmer was later praised for her efforts to protect Michiganders.

All four men were charged with kidnapping conspiracy.

READ MORE: 5 Things You Need to Know About the Trial of Four Men Accused of Plotting to Kidnap Gov. Whitmer

Harris, who was free to go Friday afternoon, was also charged with possession of unregistered destructive device (a firework wrapped with pennies that could serve as shrapnel), conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, and possession of unregistered short-barreled rifle. Caserta was acquitted after more than 18 months in jail following his arrest in an Ypsilanti warehouse.

The remaining two, Croft and Fox, can be tried again. Prosecutors say both men were affiliated with the “Three Percenter” far-right anti-government movement.

The governor’s chief of staff put out a statement in response to the verdicts on Friday afternoon.

“Today, Michiganders and Americans—especially our children—are living through the normalization of political violence,” said JoAnne Huls. “The plot to kidnap and kill a governor may seem like an anomaly. But we must be honest about what it really is: the result of violent, divisive rhetoric that is all too common across our country. There must be accountability and consequences for those who commit heinous crimes. Without accountability, extremists will be emboldened.”

Meanwhile, Michigan Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist called on elected officials, parents, teachers and others to stand up to “these hateful actions and teach our kids that there is a better way.”

“Our differences must be settled at the ballot box, not through violence,” he said. “We need to be honest and clear about what causes violence by extremists and do all we can to address the root cause of it.”

On Saturday, Whitmer alluded to the trial during a speech at the Michigan Democratic Party Endorsement Convention in Detroit.

“I have often been asked why the heck do I want to keep doing this job. And after yesterday I’m sure we all have to ask that question maybe once or twice,” she said. “But here’s the reason: Tough times call for tough people and we are going to get through this together.”

Additional reporting by the Associated Press.


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