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Federal Judge Denies Defense Strategy of Whitmer Kidnapping Suspects

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The federal trial against five men accused of planning to kidnap and kill Governor Gretchen Whitmer is scheduled to start in just over a month. Wednesday, the federal judge overseeing the trial, delivered a major blow to the defense’s strategy.

The most recent defense tactic used by five of the men accused of plotting to kidnap the governor, has been ruled ineligible.

Defense attorneys had tried to point to character issues among FBI agents and their informants made them unreliable sources.

“The truth of the matter is, unless it relates to those charges and is a similar conduct to what they are alleging took place, then it’s not going to be admissible,” said Jeff Swartz, Cooley Law School professor.

In late December during an interview with 9&10 News, Governor Whitmer said she has faith in the trial moving forward.

“I trust law enforcement and the judicial process to get justice,” said Whitmer. “I have to stay focused on my job.”

The biggest defense strategy now expected is the federal agents entrapping the men into the plot. The suspects saying they were pushed along towards committing the crime.

Swartz, a former judge and prosecutor, said this doesn’t seem to meet that.

“Now that’s okay as long as all they do is give them the opportunity to commit the crime. If they come to them and say here’s the plan, here’s what we’re going do, all you guys have to do this, you do this and you do this,” said Swartz. “If they lead the charge, now that’s going beyond just giving them the opportunity to commit the crime.”

With the decision made by Judge Robert Jonker this week, Swartz isn’t sure this makes it to trial.

“As far as I can tell, in my opinion right now, the dominoes are starting to fall,” said Swartz.

One of the suspects, Ty Garbin, has already reached a plea deal and agreed to testify against the five remaining suspects.

“They’re going to go to prison if they plea,” said Swartz. “They’re going to go to prison. The issue is for how long.”

The trial is scheduled to begin March 8. Governor Whitmer is not expected to testify as the victim.

“I don’t pay attention to every pleading that is being made at these prosecutions,” said Whitmer. “I can’t go there. I don’t have time to go there. I have to spend my energy doing my job.”

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