Federal Re-Trial Begins for Two Whitmer Kidnap Plot Suspects

Two men are back in a federal courtroom for their roles in the attempted kidnapping plot of Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

The first trial for the plot was in March and April and ended with Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris acquitted on all charges. The other two men, Adam Fox and Barry Croft were stuck on a hung jury. Tuesday the government began their case against the again.Whitmer Trial Take 2 Jury Select Llpkg 8 9 2200 01 24 29still001

“You’re going to have a whole new set of jurors this time around,” said Tonya Krause-Phelan, professor at WMU Cooley Law School, “Who might perceive things differently.”

Two of the defendants will be the same, their lawyers, the judge and most of the evidence, the same. But this time the fates of Adam Fox and Barry Croft rest in a brand new jury.

“A lot of lawyers will tell you it’s an art, not a science,” said Krause-Phelan.

Jury selection, that is. A tall task in a high profile case, but even tougher with one that already had an outcome.

“What if one of those potential jurors had heard something from the first trial, or formed an opinion based on the first trial and they blurted that out during the jury selection process?” said Krause-Phelan, “Then they taint the whole jury panel.”

Like one potential juror who said they saw a 9&10 News story that laid out the alleged plot in Elk Rapids. Judge Robert Jonker said knowledge or an opinion of the case is not disqualifying, if you can set bias aside.

As for the attorneys, they better have learned from the last trial and adapted to avoid another mistrial.

“They probably did learn a little bit from the first trial,” said Krause-Phelan, “About what evidence resonated with the jurors and what evidence didn’t. Which witnesses they believed and which ones they didn’t.”

A lot of the same witnesses will be used, which brings another wrinkle to the retrial. Old transcripts can be used against a repeat witness, if their stories don’t match.

“Hopefully there’s not too much of that going on because that can just slow things down,” said Krause-Phelan.

A lot of the evidence in this trial is going to be similar to what has already seen but one new wrinkle may be that there’s a chance that Caserta or Harris may be called by the defense as witnesses.