Whitmer Kidnapping Plot: Jurors deliberating charges against men following trial

Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris, Adam Fox, and Brandon Caserta

A jury in Michigan started its deliberations Monday in the trial of four men accused of designing a plan to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The jury picked a leader Friday and went home for the weekend, following hours of closing arguments from lawyers on the 15th day of trial.

Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta can be found guilty of conspiracy, even if it wasn’t possible to pull off the kidnapping in fall 2020, U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said during jury instructions.

A key factor, if the jury finds it, would be a "mutual understanding either spoken or unspoken" between two or more people in the group, the judge said.

Fox, Croft and Harris also face charges related to weapons.

"Deciding what the facts are is your job, not mine," Jonker told the jury.

Prosecutors said the plot was simmering for months, leavened by anti-government extremism and anger over Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions. With undercover FBI agents and informants embedded in the group, the men trained with a crudely built "shoot house" to replicate her vacation home, prosecutors allege.

Read FOX 2's full coverage of the kidnapping trial here

Defense lawyers, especially those representing Fox and Croft, attacked the government’s investigation and the use of a crucial informant, Dan Chappel. They claimed Chappel was the real leader, taking direction from the FBI and keeping the group on edge while recording them for months.

"Dan Chappel makes everything happen," attorney Christopher Gibbons said in his closing remarks.

Attorney Joshua Blanchard repeatedly called the scheme "smoke and mirrors."

"There was no plan. There was no agreement," he said.

Croft is from Bear, Delaware, while the others are from Michigan.

MORE: What role does entrapment play in Whitmer kidnap plot trial

Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely talks publicly about the plot, though she referred to "surprises" during her term that seemed 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.