Whitmer Kidnapping Plot Jury Stretches Deliberations Into Second Day

The first day of jury deliberating has come and gone and there is still no verdict in the federal trial into the kidnapping plot of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Four men are facing conspiracy to kidnap charges for their role in the plot, Brandon Caserta, Adam Fox, Barry Croft and Daniel Harris. All but Caserta are also facing connected weapons charges.Whitmer Trial Deliberation Llpkg 4 4 2200 01 21 21still001

The defense’s main strategy has been arguing federal undercover agents and informants pushed the plot and entrapped their clients. The jury now has to decide on if that is a plausible argument.

The jury had a day to look through the evidence, review their notes and talk amongst each other to come to a verdict. With four defendants facing 11 total charges, it may take a while.

The jury has strict instructions from the judge on what they are looking for and deciding on.

“The lawyers talk about the facts in the case,” said Tonya Krause-Phelan, law professor at WMU Cooley Law School, “Those jury instructions are the law.”

Even though they sit in the courtroom together and are accused of the same plot, the jury is tasked with considering each case individually. They have to because the charges aren’t all the same.

All four men are charged with conspiracy to kidnap Governor Whitmer but Caserta is the only one facing just that charge.

The two alleged ring leaders of the group, Fox and Croft, have the same three charges: conspiracy to kidnap, conspiracy to acquire a weapon of mass destruction and possession of an unregistered explosive.

Harris faces four total charges, adding possession of a short barreled rifle to the list.

“You can find a group of people who agreed to commit a crime but then when you begin focusing on what individual people were charged with,” said Krause-Phelan, “Jurors usually do a pretty good job separating out the individual conduct separate from the criminal agreement.”

Each charge for each person is a separate decision. One man can get off scot free while another is guilty of all counts. If the jury can’t decide on a charge or two, only those specific defendants will benefit from the hung jury, not the group.

“It’s possible they find one or more of the defendants guilty but get a hung jury on the others,” said Krause-Phelan, “So the convictions would likely stand against the individuals that were convicted.”

In the afternoon, the attorneys and defendants were called in for a jury question. They wanted the legal definition of a ‘weapon.’ Judge Robert Jonker citing Black’s Law Dictionary with ‘an instrument or device that can be used or designed to injure, kill or destroy.’

The jury will be back Tuesday morning at 8:30 to continue.