Two men accused of a plot to kidnap Democrat Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020 have been ordered to stand trial on the charges a second time. Chief U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Michigan Robert Jonker issued an order for a new trial on Thursday for Adam Fox, 39, of Grand Rapids and Barry Croft, 46, of Delaware.
The order comes three months after a jury was unable to deliver a verdict following the first trial in the case. Judge Jonker stated that a “rational jury” could still rule against the defendants, and ordered another jury will have to weigh the evidence in the case.
Jonker was appointed to the federal bench in 2007 by President George W. Bush.
Two other defendants alleged to be part of the claimed conspiracy were found not guilty by the jury. Another two defendants pleaded guilty before trial and testified on behalf of the government.
Defense attorneys have argued an entrapment defense in the case because of the alleged involvement of the FBI in the planning of the alleged plot to kidnap the governor. One of the FBI informants involved in the case has been indicted on gun crime charges.
The defense also requested the dismissal of the charges at the hearing. Jonker denied the motion for dismissal, saying that while he “completely understands the practical forces” of the defense argument, he found the law does not support it.
The defense motion filed on behalf of Fox argued that the evidence presented at the first trial did not establish any agreement between Fox and any other defendants to kidnap the governor or to purchase and use a “weapon of mass destruction.” The motion argued no agreement could be shown even when the evidence is “viewed in the light most favorable to the government.”
Fox’s motion also argued that the government must prove a conspiracy between him and other defendants, stating that a “government agent or informant cannot be a conspirator.”
The judge said that the new trial must start as soon as possible and set a tentative date for the new trial to start on August 9. It is expected the new trial will last around two weeks.