GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Two men convicted of federal charges in a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have appealed, arguing prosecutors failed to properly present their case and that the court bungled the handling of a report of juror bias.
Barry Croft Jr. and Adam Fox filed appeals Wednesday seeking to reverse their convictions or be granted new trials. The appellants are seeking a hearing so they can present their arguments in person before the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.
Among the arguments listed in the appeals is a claim that the evidence against Croft and Fox was insufficient to prove conspiracy, including because no evidence was presented that Whitmer did not consent to the plot. The defense says certain evidence, including about the FBI’s interaction with informants in the case, should have been admitted. The appeals also say that a time limit on cross-examination of a witness — one of the men linked to the plot who took a plea deal — was unfair.
Another main argument is that the court mishandled a report of juror bias and perjury. During the trial, the defense presented an accusation that one of the jurors told a co-worker that the juror had already decided Croft and Fox were guilty and would “make sure” that was the verdict. The court investigated and found the co-worker had only heard that secondhand. The defense asked for a mistrial, but the judge disagreed, saying the juror’s behavior in court appeared to be correct.
The appeals argue the court should have allowed attorneys to participate in its investigation of the claims and that investigation was not conducted properly. The appeal also says the judge should have ordered a hearing at which the defense could have presented its case of juror bias.
Prosecutors said Croft and Fox led a group of militia members that, driven by anger over COVID-19 mitigation orders, planned to kidnap Whitmer and blow up bridges to slow down the police chasing them. Investigators say the men tried to buy explosives from sellers who were actually undercover FBI agents. The suspects were arrested in October 2020.
Croft, described by prosecutors as the plot’s “spiritual leader,” and Fox, who prosecutors say was responsible for pushing it forward, were convicted in August 2022 in their second trial. The first time around, a jury deadlocked on their cases and acquitted two other defendants. An additional two federal defendants took plea deals. Several other men were charged in state court.