Jurors found two men accused by the government of plotting to kidnap and hurt Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer not guilty and failed to reach unanimous verdicts against two others.
The jury said it found Lake Orion resident Daniel Harris, 24 and Brandon Caserta, 33, of Canton Township not guilty and couldn't reach verdicts on accused Whitmer kidnap ringleaders Adam Fox, 38, of Potterville and Barry Croft, 46, of Delaware.
The four men faced kidnapping conspiracy charges, a felony punishable by up to life in prison. Three faced multiple charges, including conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Earlier Friday, jurors indicated they had reached a verdict on some counts in the case but were locked on others. Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker announced the development just before 11 a.m. and encouraged the jurors in federal court in downtown Grand Rapids to keep deliberating in hopes of reaching a unanimous verdict.
"It is not unusual to come back somewhere along the line of deliberations and say 'we tried, but couldn’t get there,'" the judge said. "At least not on everything."
Around 2 p.m., the jury reemerged before Jonker to indicate they remained at an impasse. Jonker instructed them to return to the jury room to confirm the impasse and fill out forms to indicate what charges they were in agreement on if so.
On Friday, Jonker likened the situation to the game show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire,” and the famous catchphrase “Is that your final answer?”
“Before that’s the final answer, I would like you to go back and make another effort to see if you can come to an agreement on issues you are stuck on as a group,” the judge told jurors.
The trial has coincided with jurors in federal court in Washington, D.C., hearing the first cases involving people charged in the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. Together, the trials provide the first tests of federal laws being used to punish extremist behavior that erupted nationally in 2020 and 2021 around the presidential election and pandemic.
Two others, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, earlier pleaded guilty and testified during the trial, telling jurors the plot originated with the group and that they were not entrapped by FBI agents and informants. Eight others are awaiting trial in state courts on domestic terrorism charges.
Remember this verdict when you believe you can find 12 people to convict Trump on anything.