Mich. (WNEM) – Legal veterans call the conclusion to the federal trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer shocking.
Four defendants were facing federal charges in a reported plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
“What we had here was one of the most important domestic terrorism cases in probably a generation,” said Flint defense attorney Nicholas Robinson.
Two defendants, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta, were found not guilty. No verdict was reached involving the other two defendants, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., leading to a mistrial.
“I think that’s nothing short of shocking,” Robinson said.
The federal prosecution is faced with a nearly unprecedented loss, according to Robinson.
“The federal government traditionally does not bring cases unless they are very confident in the outcome of what that case might be,” Robinson said.
“It’s unusual for a federal district court jury to find folks not guilty. It’s less unlikely for there to be a hung jury,” said Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton.
Leyton said it is a trend he’s noticing in mid-Michigan. It is more difficult to convict.
“We see it in the Genesee County Circuit Court. A lot of juries are almost expecting evidence that goes beyond, beyond a reasonable doubt,” Leyton said.
In a jury of 12, all it takes is one outlier to deadlock.
“It’s gotten harder to prove any criminal case in every court in the state of Michigan. Jurors want more. They want the facts, and they want lots of them before they’re going to convict somebody of a crime,” Leyton said.
Robinson said the outcome could impact any future investigation. Especially amid the recent push by the federal government to combat domestic terrorism.
“I think it’s going to be very interesting to see what cases are brought in the future because this is certainly going to be something that has ripple effects, not only here in Michigan, but throughout the entire nation,” Robinson said.
The government has to decide whether to re-try Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. or to throw in the towel.
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