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24 hours of deliberations, still no verdict in Whitmer kidnapping case

U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker excused a jury of 12 people during their third day of deliberation on April 6. (Shutterstock)

Jurors weighing the case of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer entered their 24th hour of deliberations on Wednesday without reaching a verdict.

The jury of six men and six women deliberated for eight hours on the third straight day in Grand Rapids.


So far, they have asked U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker for the definition of “weapon,” to review transcripts of witness testimonies, and, on Wednesday morning, for office supplies like Post-it notes and paper clips.


Adam Fox of Wyoming, Michigan, Daniel Harris of Lake Orion, Brandon Caserta of Canton Township and Barry Croft from Delaware face up to life in prison if convicted on kidnapping and weapon of mass destruction charges. 

Trial veterans who spoke to Bridge Michigan said the length of the deliberations means jurors are taking their job seriously.

“They're certainly back there working,” said Michael Rajat, a Detroit attorney who persuaded a judge to dismiss charges in the 2010 Hutaree case over allegations that religious extremists tried to kill a police officer.

“Generally speaking, the longer the jury is out, not always, but more times than not, it’s in the benefit of the defense. That said, every jury is different, we can’t paint them with a broad brush. We’ll have to wait and see, no one can possibly guess as to what’s going on back there.” 

Marquette County Prosecutor Matt Wiese told Bridge on Tuesday it’s not unusual in a complex case for a jury to be out for an extended period of time.

“What that tells me is that the jury is doing their due diligence and making sure they cover all the charges by analyzing and evaluating all the evidence that came in during the trial,” Wiese said. 

The deliberations follow a nearly four-week trial in which prosecutors contended the men trained for weeks to kidnap the Democratic governor in 2020 and blow up a bridge to slow police response.

The government presented hundreds of hours of recordings from informants, videos and testimony from two plotters who have already pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges.

Prosecutors contend the men were involved in the militia movement and hoped to start a “second civil war,” going so far as to make explosives and surveil the governor’s vacation home in northern Michigan.

“Physical violence,” Fox said in a video played during opening arguments. “That is the only way we’re going to win our rights back and take back what is ours.”

Defense attorneys contend the men never engaged in a specific plot and were egged on by FBI informants with credibility problems. 


Lawyers say the defendants  were frustrated with COVID-19 policies, smoked a lot of marijuana and engaged in tough talk that posed no real threat.

“This was stoned, crazy talk and not a plan,” Joshua Blanchard, an attorney for Croft, told jurors last month.

The identity of jurors is private, but all are white and many are from northern Michigan. The Detroit Free Press on Wednesday published short profiles of what is known about them, noting that at least four own guns.

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