Prosecution Rests Its Case at Whitmer Kidnapping Trial

By Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Steven Kovac
Reporter
Steven Kovac reports for the National Team from Michigan. He is a former small businessman, local elected official, and conservative political activist. Steven is an ordained minister of the Gospel. He and his wife of 33 years have two grown children. He can be reached at steven.kovac@epochtimes.us
August 18, 2022 Updated: August 18, 2022

After hearing from more than a dozen witnesses over seven days of testimony, federal prosecutors rested their case on Thursday against two men charged with conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer just before the 2020 election.

The men are also charged with conspiracy to use explosives to facilitate a getaway.

This is the second trial this year for defendants Adam Fox, 38, of Wyoming, Mich., and Barry Croft Jr., 38, of Delaware on the same charges.

The pair and four other suspects were arrested by the FBI in October 2020 before any kidnapping attempt or attempted bombing took place.

The first trial of Fox and Croft ended in April when the jury, after five days of deliberation, deadlocked and failed to convict either man of any crime.

Epoch Times Photo
Adam Fox (L) and Barry Croft Jr. stand trial on charges of conspiring to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in Grand Rapids, Mich. on Aug. 18, 2022. (Kent County Sheriff and Delaware Department of Justice via AP, File)

The same jury acquitted two of the suspects, while two more pleaded guilty.

Eight other suspects were arrested and are facing state charges.

In the latest trial, the prosecution has tried to prove that Fox and Croft were ringleaders in a serious plot to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, from her summer home in Elk Rapids and blow up a bridge to slow down the response time of police.

Prosecutors sought to demonstrate that Fox and Croft were determined domestic terrorists who were predisposed to such actions months before the FBI sting operation began.

The defense contends that its clients were loud-mouthed braggarts without a concrete plan, who were egged on by two undercover FBI agents and 12 other FBI operatives in a case of entrapment.

Militiaman Turned FBI Informant

Under cross-examination by the defense, the prosecution’s star witness, militiaman turned FBI informant, Dan Chappel, testified that defendant Croft didn’t know what was going on when he was picked up for a nighttime surveillance mission of Whitmer’s summer home near Elk Rapids.

Defense attorneys brought out that three undercover FBI men and Croft were in the truck used for the surveillance.

Epoch Times Photo
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a news conference on March 11, 2022, at the governor’s office in Lansing, Mich. (David Eggert/AP Photo)

When defense lawyers pressed Chappel about the more than $50,000 the FBI paid him for his services as being a powerful incentive for his cooperation, Chappel stated his motive, “I wanted to stop people from doing bad things to good people.”

Under questioning, Chappel explained why he suggested ways to damage Whitmer’s home and his comments about the idea of shooting at the dwelling and making it pass for a hunting accident.

He said he had to play along to gain acceptance by the group.

Prosecution witness Ty Garbin, one of the two men that had previously pleaded guilty in the case and is serving a six-year prison sentence, acknowledged under cross-examination by Fox’s attorney Chris Gibbons, that Fox was never included in the group’s online leadership chat or general chat.

Another prosecution witness, Kaleb Franks who pleaded guilty before the first trial and is awaiting sentencing, testified that he never heard Fox or Croft express any reservations about committing the kidnapping.

Franks also said he never heard Chappel or the FBI operative who was posing as an explosives dealer, try to persuade Fox and Croft to kidnap Whitmer.

The defense pointed out that five times Fox was offered a credit or gift card with a $5,000 limit that he could use to purchase explosives, but he turned the offers down.

When Franks was asked how he regarded Fox and Croft, he said he viewed them more as operatives than leaders.

The defense raised the possibility of a mistrial or an appeal because, they said, Judge Robert Jonker at times ridiculed their arguments, repeatedly interrupted their cross-examinations of prosecution witnesses, and imposed time limits on their cross-examinations to match the duration of the prosecutors’ direct examinations.

Rough Trial For Jury

It’s been a rough trial for the jury as well, with two jurors having to be excused for testing positive for COVID-19, one juror allegedly making potentially prejudicial comments before being seated, and the discovery that the daughter-in-law of another jury member allegedly smoked pot with defendant Fox at the boat ramp near Whitmer’s home in 2020.

On Friday, it’s the defense’s turn to make their case.

If convicted, Fox and Croft could face up to life in prison.

The trial is expected to conclude in a day or two and go to the jury.

Steven Kovac
Reporter
Steven Kovac reports for the National Team from Michigan. He is a former small businessman, local elected official, and conservative political activist. Steven is an ordained minister of the Gospel. He and his wife of 33 years have two grown children. He can be reached at steven.kovac@epochtimes.us