GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — One day after two men were convicted in the plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the target of the kidnapping plot is speaking out.
“I was pleased with the outcome. I think that the rise in hate and threats and domestic terrorism in this country is really concerning. It’s not just been at me. For years I’ve been asking people to lower the temperature. This shows that people will be held accountable. We settle out differences at the ballot box. And then we move forward. And I think yesterday’s conclusion of the trial was a just result.” Whitmer told reporters at an event in the Detroit Area Wednesday.
“It’s not about me. This is about every American who’s serving the public, who’s dealing with threats whether it’s an election worker, or it is a police officer, or a teacher. This is unacceptable,” she said.
It took jurors just eight hours over two days to decide Adam Fox and Barry Croft were guilty of conspiracy charges in the 2020 plot to kidnap the governor.
WMU Cooley Law School Professor Jeffrey Swartz said prosecutors did two things right this time. One was a better job of picking the jury.
“The second thing that they did well, is that they used more of the evidence that they had before. More of the tapes. More of the video. All those things that they didn’t think they had to do because they thought they had a dead-bang case the first time around,” Swartz
The defense put the FBI on trial, claiming it was the undercover agents and informants who convinced Fox and Croft to move forward with a plan that would have remained little more than a fantasy in the mind of two big talkers, who had no ability to pull off the plot.
That entrapment defense comes at a time the FBI has come under fire at the national level. Schwartz says the jury did not appear to the buy into that rhetoric, especially in the post Jan. 6 riot era.
“People are tired of it. They don’t want any more of the chaos that was created. And they came across a chaos-makers,” said Swartz.
Despite that, Swartz says to expect appeals.
Unsealed documents reveal concerns over a juror who allegedly told coworkers he thought the men were guilty and wanted to get on the jury to convict them.
The juror denied the allegations, and an investigation by the court could not corroborate the story.
“I assume that the motion was supported by affidavits, that if there aren’t affidavits, that they will get affidavits from them and supplement them on their record for a new trial,” said Swartz.
There’s also the issue of the judge limiting the time the defense could cross examine some witnesses.
Swartz says court does have the power to put limits on those examinations.
“But to the same extent, If defense attorneys go sidebar and say, ‘judge, I really haven’t completed my cross,’ and the judge will say, ‘what else do you need to ask them about?’ And the judge feels that those are relevant questions, the judge is going to say, ‘go ahead and complete your examination on those issues,’” said Swartz.
Either way, Swartz says the case will likely move out of Grand Rapids.
“I don’t think that it’s going anywhere in front of the trial judge. This will be a grounds for appeal in front of the 6th Circuit, I have no question about that,” said Swartz.
Fox and Croft are sentenced in December, when any filed appeals will be revealed.