GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Prosecutors have rested their case in the trial of four men accused of plotting to kidnap and kill Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Now, it's the defense's turn to call their own witnesses to the stand, which may include militia experts who will testify that the group's trainings were legal and not uncommon for militias.
On Wednesday, defense attorneys for all four men charged told the judge there was a “possibility” their clients could take the stand and testify. They also said they planned to recall some witnesses the jury has already heard from, including undercover informant Dan Chappel, known as Big Dan to the group.
In defense testimony, the jury also expects to hear from FBI Agent Jayson Chambers, who was one of the handlers for the roughly dozen undercover agents and sources that worked the case. Chambers’ past has been called into question over his alleged activity to profit off information he had pertaining to the case. It’s been previously ruled that those details will not be allowed to enter into testimony.
The prosecution’s case took roughly three weeks to layout and included the testimony of over 30 witnesses, most of them FBI agents. It also included the testimony of two men, Ty Garbin and Kaleb Franks, who avoided trial by pleading guilty in plea deals.
A handful of defense witnesses have already invoked their Fifth Amendment right and will avoid testifying, including Max Wycoff, a former member of the Wolverine Watchmen militia group who trained with the group but was never charged.
Wednesday, defense attorneys filed a Rule 29 motion asking the judge to move directly to jury deliberations on the basis that prosecutors didn’t prove there was an agreement between their clients on the kidnapping plot, and thus no reason to defend their case. That motion was denied and the defense will move forward with calling witnesses.
The day was underscored by the revelation of threats made against Chief Judge Robert Jonker, who is presiding over the case, and defense attorneys Christopher Gibbons and Joshua Blanchard. The attorneys are representing Adam Fox and Barry Croft respectively, the accused ringleaders of the alleged plot.