Man in Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot trial talked about hanging leaders

Jurors on Tuesday saw provocative social media posts written by a key figure charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan’s governor, including a photo of a noose and a question: Which governor is going to be "dragged off and hung for treason first?"

Federal prosecutors are close to finishing their case after 12 days of trial in Grand Rapids, Michigan. They’re trying to show in the last stretch that four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 were committed to a plan without influence by informants or undercover FBI agents.

Barry Croft Jr., a trucker from Bear, Delaware, regularly vented on Facebook about government and public officials in 2020 when some governors, including Whitmer, were issuing stay-home orders, requiring masks and restricting the economy during the early phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Which governor is going to end up dragged off and hung for treason first?" Croft wrote on Memorial Day 2020. "It’s really a spin the bottle match at this point and I’m sure a few mayors are in the running!!! God bless the constitutional republic!!!"

A few days later, Croft posted about seizing state Capitols and "putting these tyrants’ addresses out here for rioters."

The FBI said that message was "liked" on Facebook by Adam Fox, who with Croft is described as a leader of the scheme to get Whitmer. Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta are also charged with the kidnapping conspiracy.

Defense lawyers deny there was an actual plan to snatch Whitmer, claiming the men were induced by agents and informants and exchanged wild talk while smoking marijuana.

Facebook posts written by Caserta and entered into evidence were dark. He called the governor a "psychopath" and said the purpose of the Second Amendment is the "ability to kill agents of the government when they become tyrannical."

"I will not be chipped and I will not be vaccinated even if that means losing everything I have," Caserta wrote separately in May 2020.

Three months later, Caserta said he would shoot "tyrants" after beating them with his hands and feet, letting them "beg til they couldn’t beg any more because their mouth is so full of blood."

"There is no remorse for immoral cowards," Caserta said. "Empathy is only reserved for the good."

Defense attorney Michael Hills, however, noted that none of the messages referred to kidnapping Whitmer.

Attorney Joshua Blanchard has accused the FBI of targeting Croft because agents didn’t like his strident views. He referred to a meme posted by Croft of ammunition with the message, "Oh, look, 30 votes that count."

"A little tongue in cheek? A little bit funny?" Blanchard asked FBI agent Thomas Szymanski.

"I didn’t laugh when I saw this meme," the agent replied.

Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely talks publicly about the kidnapping plot, though she referred to "surprises" during her term that seem like "something out of fiction" when she filed for reelection on March 17.

She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case. Whitmer has said Trump was complicit in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.