A Michigan jury acquitted three men on charges stemming from a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Friday, according to multiple reports, in the last trial over the 2020 domestic terror conspiracy that led to the arrest of 14 men, of which nine were previously convicted.
Twin brothers William and Michael Null, along with Eric Molitor, were each found not guilty Friday by an Antrim County, Michigan, jury on charges of providing material support for a terrorist act and illegally possessing firearms, according to the New York Times.
Prosecutors argued the three men scouted Whitmer’s Antrim County-based vacation home and conspired in a plot to kidnap her there by participating in drills, adding the three men “hated” the U.S. government.
Molitor, 39, and William, 41, admitted to attending gun drills and scouting Whitmer’s home, though William said he and Michael left the group after others suggested using explosives in the plot, while Molitor said he never believed the kidnapping plot would ever take place, according to the Associated Press.
William testified that he was unaware he would be surveilling Whitmer’s home, and Molitor said he feared for his life during the surveillance with Adam Fox, one of the conspiracy’s co-leaders who was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in the scheme last year.
All three men faced up to 20 years in prison.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said Friday the verdicts were “not what we hoped for,” adding, “The successes we have achieved throughout these cases, in both state and federal courts, sends a clear message that acts of domestic terrorism will not be tolerated in our state.”
The three men are the last in a group of 14 to face trial on charges stemming from a plot to kidnap and possibly assassinate Whitmer. Two other men were previously acquitted, while nine men were convicted through either guilty pleas or verdicts at three other trials. The FBI arrested the Null brothers, Molitor and 11 others in October 2020, following an undercover mission in which agents were embedded among suspects. Fox and Barry Croft—described by prosecutors as key participants in the plot—had recruited other co-conspirators, including members of a military group called the Wolverine Watchmen. Some suspects in the plot had complained about Whitmer’s pandemic restrictions, including one suspect who referred to Whitmer as a “tyrant.” Whitmer—who was unharmed in the plot, as plans never materialized—blamed former President Donald Trump following the arrests for giving “comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” Whitmer’s office said in a statement last year after Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were acquitted of federal conspiracy charges that “without accountability, extremists will be emboldened.”