(WXYZ) — A new jury is now seated for the second trial in Grand Rapids against two defendants accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer.
Their first trial ended with a hung jury back in April. Each of the 12 jurors selected and alternates faced tough questions from attorneys. The judge hammered home the importance of setting aside everything but the law and evidence.
Jurors were also instructed to separate any political beliefs or bias based on prior media coverage, or attitudes toward government. The retrial comes after Adam Fox of Grand Rapids and Barry Croft Jr. of Delaware were tried earlier, but the result was a hung jury. Two other co-defendants were acquitted and 2 more pleaded guilty.
“Attorneys on both sides asked a lot more follow-up questions, and also heard a lot more distrust in government during questioning of potential jurors, compared with 6 months ago,” says former U.S. Attorney Matthew Schneider who has watched the case closely.
He added, among those picked were “Someone who owns guns and someone against guns. It’s possibly a wash, but it’s important to note that this is probably the last time this case will be tried, in the event of a hung jury.” The jury includes a nurse, a nutritionist, and an avid hunter. A police officer and retired firefighter were dismissed.
“I don’t know if you feel like you won the lottery or just got called to the principal’s office. But, either way, welcome,” Federal Judge Robert Jonker told the jury. Feds say Fox & Croft often communicated with other extremists, critical of the Governor. They say both men conspired to kidnap her and took steps to do so.
It’s alleged they planned to blow up a bridge near the governor’s vacation home. Secret conversations, texts, and posts are all part of the feds' case, but defense attorneys will once again attack the credibility of FBI agents and say they engaged in entrapment.
“Whether you like Governor Whitmer, or dislike Governor Whitmer, cannot be the reason for convicting or acquitting,” Judge Jonker told the jury. They were also reminded to stay off social media and not discuss the case. The trial begins Wednesday at 8:30 am. Both men face life in prison if convicted.