Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks to the media after the second Gubernatorial Debate at Oakland University October 25. Sydney Hastings-Wilkins/Daily. Buy this photo.


Five additional men have been ordered to stand trial for their involvement in the 2020 plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. State Judge Michael Stepka of the 86th Circuit Court ruled Wednesday that evidence presented in a preliminary hearing justified a trial. Michigan residents Michael Null, William Null, Eric Molitor and Shawn Fix are accused of providing material support for terrorist acts as well as gun crime. Brian Higgins of Wisconsin Dells, Wis., was charged with providing material support for terrorist acts.

The scheme included plans to abduct Whitmer from her vacation home in Elk Rapids, Mich., and to obtain a weapon of mass destruction in the form of a bomb to blow up a bridge near the home to slow down responding police.

Stepka said the Null brothers, Molitor and Higgins scouted the house and surroundings, and participated in planning the destruction of the bridge to keep police from responding. Fix aided in locating the vacation home, according to evidence presented at the state hearing.

A pretrial conference for Michael Null, William Null, Molitor, Fix and Higgins is scheduled for Dec. 19 in circuit court. The specific court location will be determined at a future date.

In October 2020, seven men were charged under state terrorism law, including Michigan resident Adam Fox and Delaware resident Barry Croft Jr., who were identified as ringleaders of the operation. Fox and Croft Jr. were convicted on all counts against them in August. Six additional men faced federal charges for orchestrating the plan in October 2020. Last week, Judge Robert Jonker of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan denied a retrial for Fox and Croft. Fox and Croft are set to face sentencing on Dec. 28. 

Additionally, three more men — ​​Joe Morrison, his father-in-law Pete Musico and Paul Bellar — were found guilty in October for providing materials for a terrorist act while being involved in a group called the Wolverine Watchmen. Morrison, Musico and Bellar face up to 42 years in prison and will be sentenced Dec. 15.

Following the announcement, a total of14 men will have been charged with participating in the plot.

“This bind over sends a clear message that acts of domestic terrorism will not be tolerated,” Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a press release.“Those who threaten our law enforcement agents and public officials endanger our entire state and must be held accountable. I am pleased to see this case move forward.”

Daily News Editor Anna Fifelski can be reached at afifelsk@umich.edu.