GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — After a month-long trial in federal court, 2 of the men charged with plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer were acquitted on all counts, while the jury was unable to reach verdicts in the cases of the 2 other defendants. The US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan has confirmed that their office plans to refile charges against the 2 men whose cases ended in mistrials.
Adam Fox and Barry Croft were accused by prosecutors of being the leaders of the alleged kidnapping plot. Several secret audio recordings were played in court, with prosecutors trying to paint them as serious and steadfast in their efforts to take the Governor.
“Although we are disappointed the jury did not reach decisions in our favor, we continue to respect the jury trial system whatever the outcome. And we thank the jury for their service. Two defendants now await re-trial and, for that reason, we have no further statement at this time,” US Attorney Andrew Birge said in a statement just hours after the verdicts were announced.
When asked by FOX 17 on Monday, his office said they could not comment on when those charges might be refiled.
2 of the men originally charged at the federal level int he alleged plot, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, ended up taking plea deals with the government, and even testifying at trial to support their narrative.
Despite their testimony, and the testimony of 2 undercover FBI agents who had infiltrated the group, the 12 person jury (with 3 alternates) rejected the governments assertions.
Defense attorneys for all 4 men who ended up going to trial put forth that the men were entrapped into any potential criminal activity by the actions of those undercover FBI agents, and a handful of undercover government informants.
“In our system of justice, the prosecutor is the official who has sole discretion on what charges to file and not to file," explained former defense attorney, and current law professor, Tonya Krause-Phelan.
"There's no issue with double jeopardy here by retrying them, and the reason for that is because there was no conclusion, there was no final judgment, and so, there was no conviction.”
She tells FOX 17 that while another trial will take away valuable resources from the US Attorney's office, the additional cost will likely not be substantial, as most of the legal legwork was already completed the first time around.
Former US Attorney for the Western District of Michigan, Pat Miles, tells FOX 17 that prosecutors will have some preparation work to complete before diving into refiling charges.
“They're probably going to look at the case and try and do a post-mortem, if you will, and see what the defects were of why they ended up with a hung jury on these 2 defendants,” Miles said Monday.
“I just have to wonder, how far can law enforcement let these cases go? To make sure they have a certainty of conviction? You certainly don't want to let the planning go so far as to a crime being committed.”
Krause-Phelan says it is very rare, in her experience, to see an entrapment defense get as far as it did in this case.
"Usually the defendant has some predisposition to committing that crime that prevents the defense from going forward or prevailing, so that was really interesting in this case.”
We will update this story when charges are refiled against Adam Fox and Barry Croft.