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Jury acquits three men accused in Whitmer kidnapping plot

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer sits down
Acquittals for three men accused in the kidnapping plot of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer concludes the criminal trials in the 2020 case. (Bridge photo by Rod Sanford)
  • Three men found not guilty for involvement in plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer
  • The verdict marks the end of all trials connected to the plot
  • Nine of 14 men found were found guilty; five were acquitted

LANSING — Three men accused of assisting in the 2020 plot to kidnap Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were acquitted of all counts by a jury Friday morning in Antrim County.

The defendants — Eric Molitor and brothers William and Michael Null — were previously charged with carrying or possessing a firearm when committing or attempting a felony, as well as knowingly providing material support for terrorism, court records show.

The acquittal was the last of all trials tied to the domestic terrorism plot against Whitmer over her COVID-19 pandemic lockdown policies in 2020. 


Federal officials announced arrests of a group of armed men in October 2020 for allegedly staking out Whitmer’s northern Michigan cottage and plotting to kidnap her before the November election. 

Nine of the 14 men accused of being involved in the kidnapping plot have been convicted. 

Five of them were found guilty on state felony charges of gang membership, firearm possession or providing support with terrorism, according to the office of Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office on Friday. They face a total of up to 131 years in prison.

Two ringleaders, Adam Fox of Michigan and Barry Croft of Delaware, were convicted in August 2022 of the conspiracy. Croft was sentenced to more than 19 years in prison while Fox received a 16-year sentence, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The two planned to grab and hang Whitmer for what they called “tyranny” and hoped to start a second civil war, prosecutors previously said.

William Null and Molitor defended themselves, arguing they did participate in gun drills and took turns to check Whitmer’s residence, the Associated Press reported. But Null said he and his brother broke from the group when members started discussing explosives, and Molitor said Fox was too “dumb” to pull off the conspiracy, the news outlet reported.

Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the Friday verdicts “are not what we hoped for.”

“(But) the successes we have achieved throughout these cases, in both state and federal courts, sends a clear message that acts of domestic terrorism will not be tolerated in our state,” she said in a statement.  

JoAnne Huls, Whitmer’s chief of staff, called the verdicts “disappointing.”

“A not guilty verdict on the plot to kidnap and kill Governor Whitmer in hopes of starting a civil war will further encourage and embolden radical extremists trying to sow discord and harm public officials or law enforcement.”

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