A man who was cleared of all charges in the alleged plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D) came up on Friday as the case’s remaining defendants’ trials was coming to a close.
Former Wolverine Watchmen militia member Brandon Caserta claimed to reporters on Friday that the FBI “concocted” the purported abduction scheme and that no one would have tried a crime absent the intervention of undercover agents.
WDIV-TV quoted Caserta as saying, “People say things that are disrespectful and, you know, may seem violent, but there’s a difference between really committing violence or just being among a lot of people and talking garbage.”
“This problem would never have developed into what it is today if the government hadn’t gotten involved,” added he.
In October 2020, with the help of several informants and undercover FBI agents, authorities allegedly discovered a scheme to abduct Whitmer. Six of the more than a dozen individuals who were detained were charged in federal court, while the other suspects were accused of state offenses.
Caserta and Daniel Harris, two people charged with federal offenses, were found not guilty on all counts in April. The court declared a mistrial after the jury failed to find the defendants Adam Fox and Barry Croft guilty. Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, the two remaining defendants, entered guilty pleas before their trials. Franks is awaiting sentencing while Garbin is now serving a six-year jail term.
Currently in court awaiting the results of their retrials are Fox and Croft.
Authorities claim that the two men are domestic terrorists who were upset by Whitmer’s pandemic health regulations, which required businesses and schools to close in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and who then organized the alleged abduction attempt.
“These defendants planned to kidnap a lady and were outside her home in the middle of the night with pistols and night-vision goggles,” Nils Kessler, an assistant US attorney, stated this during his closing remarks on Monday. “They also created an actual bomb. That’s enough, don’t you think?”
Outside the federal courtroom in Grand Rapids where Fox and Croft are being prosecuted, Caserta said on Friday, “I think it’s outrageous that the government’s still going to attempt to continue to push this narrative that these folks are truly terrorists. I’m hoping this jury acts in the same way they did for us last time. Fox and Croft don’t deserve to be in this place because of their derogatory remarks and acts of offense.”
The defense claims that an FBI entrapment led to the alleged abduction plan and that undercover FBI agents coerced Wolverine Watchmen members into saying and doing things they otherwise would not have.
“This whole situation was clearly fabricated by the FBI. This would never have occurred without their presence,” Caserta said, as reported by WOOD-TV.
After the last arguments from both sides in the trial on Monday, the jury started deliberating. Later this week, a decision is anticipated from them.