GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Jurors heard from some key players in the plot to kidnap Governor Whitmer, as testimony continues in the retrial of two men charged in connection with the case Tuesday.
Adam Fox of Wyoming and Barry Croft of Delaware’s original case ended in a mistrial.
The jury heard from Ty Garbin, who already pleaded guilty for his place in the case. But they won’t hear from other defendants in the original case, who plan on invoking their Fifth Amendments rights.
Off the prosecution’s witness list are Kaleb Franks, who, along with Garbin has already pleaded guilty in the case, and the two defendants acquitted in April, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.
All planned to take the Fifth. Among their reasons, their testimonies could implicate them in other cases involving the kidnapping.
Informant Steve Robeson also plans to take the Fifth. Harris and Caserta were on the list as a defense witness.
“Mr. Caserta certainly wanted to come say his piece. He didn’t have an opportunity to do that during his trial in March. So we continue on,” said Adam Fox’s attorney Christopher Gibbons.
That leaves Ty Garbin.
Garbin did take the stand Tuesday and testified about meeting Adam Fox at a Second Amendment rally in Lansing in June of 2020. He says Fox discussed storming the capitol and holding elected officials’ hostage, including Governor Whitmer.
Garbin testified Fox told him the plan was to “Hang her on public television for all the world to see.”
Garbin says he met Barry Croft in subsequent meetings that summer. He testified Croft had talked about using explosives. While the testimony falls in line with the prosecution case, Fox’s attorney says, stay tuned.
“We’ll see how he does on cross exam,” said Gibbons.
Earlier in the day, cross examination of another key government witness in the case continued.
Dan Chappel, known as Big Dan, is the militia member who turned FBI informant after group members began talking about committing violent acts against government officials. Chappel secretly recorded several encounters with Fox, including a trip to northern Michigan to scope out the Governors Elk Rapids cottage, where the group had planned to kidnap her from.
The government claims Fox and Croft were the leaders of the effort. The defense is trying to prove the FBI instigated the plot, entrapping the two men.
Gibbons spent his cross examination of Chappel trying to establish his role in providing help with planning the effort, including offering credit cards to Fox to purchase supplies.
“Inducement is a huge piece of the entrapment puzzle,” Gibbons told reporters after Tuesday’s testimony.
“And the failure to entrap, which is really what this case is about at its core. You take people that are in the condition that our clients were in — the middle of the pandemic, desperate for money, isolated, and short of resources — and the FBI attempted to give them $5,000 credit cards. Which would make most people jump,” said Gibbons.
Prosecutors plan to wrap up their case by weeks end. The defense says they don’t expect to call many witnesses. The trial could be in the hands of the jury early next week.