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5 men federally charged in Whitmer kidnapping plot to appear in court Tuesday

Posted at 4:51 AM, Oct 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-13 06:36:55-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WXYZ) — Five of the six men charged federally in the plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer will appear in court in Grand Rapids Tuesday morning.

Several other defendants — facing state charges — will appear in court later this week.

The preliminary hearing is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. As is procedure, there will be no cameras allowed in federal court nor can the proceedings be recorded. The men remain in custody of the U.S. Marshals.

Ty Garbin, Daniel Harris, Kaleb Franks, Brandon Caserta, and Adam Fox – all Michigan residents – are set to appear in federal court Tuesday morning for a preliminary hearing. They’re accused of conspiring to kidnap the governor in what investigators are calling a failed plot that’s made international headlines.

“A case of this magnitude, you could be looking at a trial a good year and a half, two years down the road," said criminal defense attorney Michael Rataj.

Attorney Rataj specializes in federal cases. In 2012, he represented the Hutaree militia and successfully had all charges dropped. But he sees clear distinctions between these cases.

“These individuals are not charged with sedition," said Rataj. "I think that the way that these people have been charged, I think the government learned a little bit from the Hutaree case.”

Seven other men face state charges under Michigan’s anti-terrorism law, accused of planning to storm the state Capitol and ignite a civil war.

Joseph Morrison and Peter Musico, who investigators say are the founders of the anti-government group The Wolverine Watchmen” are set for conferences on Friday and due for preliminary hearings Oct. 21 in Jackson.

Meanwhile Gov. Whitmer, who’s called the defendants domestic terrorists, was out at a voter mobilization event Monday alongside Doug Emhoff, husband to Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris.

“We're all in awe of the courage that you and your family have shown in the face of the unprecedented threats against you, a public official," said Emhoff.

Eric Molitor and brothers Michael and William Null are due in court Wednesday for a probable cause hearing. Then, they’ll join another defendant, Shawn Fix in Northern Michigan for preliminary hearings Oct. 28.

Two others, Paul Bellar and Barry Croft are still in the process of being extradited back to Michigan.

As for trials, if that happens, it could be months or years, according to that attorney.