Almost three years ago, the FBI arrested a group of men on the basis of a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. The FBI later revealed the men accused were motivated by their disapproval of Whitmer’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Members of the group have since been tried around the state of Michigan, some at the state level and some at the federal level. Most recently, on Sept. 16, William Null, Michael Null and Eric Molitor were acquitted for their role in the plot. The three faced charges for weapons and support of a terrorist act.
William and Michael Null, as well as Molitor are the last of 14 defendants accused of developing a plot to kidnap the governor from her cabin in Elk Rapids. In total, nine individuals were convicted and five have been cleared of all charges. The men involved were also accused of having discussed targeting the governor’s security detail and a nearby bridge to hinder police response.
The cases were tried in three different court systems: federal court, which saw six trials; Jackson County Court, which saw three and Antrim County Court, which saw five.
Federal courts handled the cases of Adam Fox, Barry Croft, Kaleb Franks, Ty Garbin, Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris. Of the six, Caserta and Harris were acquitted, Gabrin and Franks plead guilty, and Fox and Croft were convicted. Fox and Croft have both appealed for a retrial.
Jackson County Court determined the verdicts of Pete Musico, Joseph Morrison and Paul Bellar, all three of whom were convicted and sentenced to jail time.
Molitor, Michael Null and William Null, Shawn Fix and Brian Higgins were tried in Antrim County Court. Apart from the three acquittals from Friday, both Fix and Higgins pled guilty and face prison sentences.
JoAnne Huls, Whitmer’s chief of staff, told the Detroit Free Press that Whitmer is grateful for the prosecutors’ work and will continue making Michigan a better state.
“Governor Whitmer ran for office because she loves Michigan. That’s why public servants do what they do,” Huls said. “We will not let anyone stop us from getting things done. We will be relentless in our pursuit of making Michigan a better place to live and work. We appreciate the prosecutors and law enforcement officers for their work.”
In a statement released Friday, Nessel said, despite the recent acquittals, the conclusion of the case sets a precedent for the actions taken against domestic terrorism in Michigan.
“While today’s verdicts are not what we hoped for, the successes we have achieved throughout these cases, in both state and federal courts, sends a clear message that acts of domestic terrorism will not be tolerated in our state,” Nessel said.
Daily Staff Reporter Arnav Gupta can be reached at email@example.com.