- A jury on Wednesday found three men guilty in connection with a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
- Two other men were convicted in August in federal court for their part in the plot.
- The three men face up to 22 years in prison and are scheduled to be sentenced on December 15.
A Michigan jury on Wednesday found three men guilty in connection with a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat.
The three men — Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico — were all found guilty of providing material support to a terrorist, felony gang charges, and felony weapons charges, according to The Detroit Free Press.
The jury deliberated for around five hours before returning the guilty verdict. Bellar, Morrison, and Musico face up to 22 years in prison and will be sentenced on December 15.
A federal grand jury found two other men, Adam Fox and Barry Croft, guilty of counts of conspiracy to kidnap Whitmer and conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction in August for the plot.
Prosecutors said that Fox and Croft were angry over Whitmer’s stay-at-home orders and mask mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic and accused them of planning to buy and create explosives to help them carry out their plot.
Croft was also previously convicted on one count of possession of an unregistered destructive device.
Whitmer said in a statement that the convictions are “further proof that violence and threats have no place in our politics.”
“No threat, no plot, no rhetoric will break my belief in the goodness and decency of our people,” Whitmer wrote on Twitter.
—Governor Gretchen Whitmer (@GovWhitmer) October 26, 2022
According to the Free Press, prosecutors said that the three men were founders of the Wolverine Watchmen militia, which trained Fox and Croft while they crafted their plan to kidnap Whitmer. Assistant Michigan Attorney General Sunita Doddamani told the jury that Wolverine Watchmen was “a blueprint for Adam Fox to learn from.”
“These three defendants had been pushing toward violence for months,” Doddamani said in court according to the Free Press. “Even if they weren’t going to do an act of terrorism themselves, they were more than happy and willing to help someone else.”
According to The Associated Press, the three men held gun trainings in rural Jackson County, Michigan with Fox. Defense attorneys argued that the three men had stopped communicating with Fox by the summer of 2020 when the kidnapping plot began to take place, according to The AP.
Musico’s attorney, Kareem Johnson, told the Free Press that he was “disappointed” with the verdict, but still believes Musico is innocent. Johnson told the newspaper that other members of the Wolverine Watchmen also supported Musico and wanted to testify in the trial on his behalf, but were afraid that they may incriminate themselves.
Morrison’s attorney, Leonard Ballard, told the Free Press that he was surprised by how quickly the jury reached a verdict.
“Walking out yesterday I thought a not guilty verdict was coming back,” Morrison told the newspaper.