April 8 (UPI) — Two defendants charged in an alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer were acquitted Friday and a mistrial was declared for the other two defendants.
Daniel Harris, 24, was acquitted on all four counts, while Brendan Caserta, 33, was acquitted on the single count he faced, for kidnapping conspiracy.
A mistrial was declared for the other two defendants, Adam Fox and Barry Croft. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Grand Rapids said it will retry the case against them.
Prosecutors said they were “obviously” disappointed at the outcome.
Defense lawyers had argued the accused were entrapped by the FBI and were high on marijuana, with attorney Joshua Blanchard telling jurors that “the FBI knew this was stoned crazy talk.”
Two men — Ty Garbin and Kaleb James Franks — pleaded guilty and agreed to turn state’s evidence against the others.
Eight others are awaiting trial on domestic terrorism charges in the case.
“Today, Michiganders and Americans — especially our children — are living through the normalization of political violence,” JoAnne Huls, chief of staff for Gov. Whitmer, said in a statement.
“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,” Huls said.
The FBI had said the men were members of an anti-government militia in Michigan and alleged that they had conspired to kidnap Whitmer.
The defendants faced conspiracy charges to commit the kidnapping, which was allegedly in response to Gov. Whitmer’s anti-COVID-19 restrictions.