Men convicted in Whitmer kidnapping trial to be sentenced in December
- The two ringleaders who plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be sentenced in December
- Defense attorneys could appeal on grounds they were limited in their time to cross-examine, one expert said
LANSING — Two men convicted this week of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer will be sentenced in December, a federal court in Grand Rapids announced Wednesday.
Adam Fox of Potterville, Michigan, and Barry Croft, of Delaware, face up to life in prison after a jury Tuesday found them guilty of a conspiracy to snatch Whitmer over her COVID-19 policies in 2020.
Croft is scheduled to appear before U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker Dec. 28 and Fox is expected to appear in court Dec. 12, said Michelle Benham, chief deputy clerk at the United States District Court Western District of Michigan.
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Both men were convicted of the kidnapping conspiracy and use of a weapon of mass destruction. Croft was also convicted of possessing explosive devices.
The Tuesday verdict marked a victory for the Justice Department in its prosecution of domestic terrorism cases amid rising threats against public officials and law enforcement. Whitmer applauded the jury’s decision Tuesday, calling it proof that “violence and threats have no place in our politics and those who seek to divide us will be held accountable.”
But defense attorneys could appeal on the ground that the court violated their rights to due process, as Jonker limited the time allowed defense attorneys to cross examine government witnesses despite their objections, Matthew Schneider, former U.S. for the Eastern District of Michigan, told Bridge Michigan on Tuesday. During the trial, Jonker set time limits only for the defense lawyers after lamenting that they took up too much time in their questions. The judge instructed that they could only take as long as prosecutors in questioning the witnesses, The Detroit Free Press reported.
“The defense made a pretty good record that they didn’t get enough time” to question witnesses about their previous plea deals and criminal history, Schneider said.
“That is very significant,” he said. “I think the Court of Appeals is going to take a very strong look at that.”
The verdicts came after an earlier jury deadlocked in April on charges against the men. The April jury acquitted two other defendants, Daniel Harris of Lake Orion and Brandon Caserta of Canton Township.
Defense attorneys for Fox and Croft have argued their clients were hotheads who were manipulated by the undercover FBI agents into taking actions they would not have participated in on their own. But prosecutors argued Fox and Croft engaged in a serious discussion about kidnapping Whitmer long before FBI agents were embedded.
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