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Judge rejects bid for new trial in Whitmer kidnapping case

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A federal judge has denied a new trial request from two men convicted of conspiring to kidnap Democratic Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Attorneys for Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. have alleged juror misconduct and unfairness by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker following their convictions by a federal jury in August.

Jonker, in a written decision Friday, dismissed allegations of juror misconduct and said he found “no constitutional violation and no credible evidence” to call a new hearing.

Fox and Croft face life in prison when sentenced Dec. 28.

Whitmer, who was reelected Nov. 8 to a second term, was never physically injured in the plot, which has led to more than a dozen arrests in 2020.

Fox and Croft’s first trial ended in a mistrial earlier this year when the jury was unable to reach a unanimous verdict. A motion for a third trial was filed in September.

Defense attorneys said a juror sitting in the second trial had been described by a colleague as ‘far-left leaning’, was eager to serve on the jury and was set to convict before hearing the proofs.

The defense team investigator said he interviewed two colleagues who said they had heard of it but had no direct knowledge of it. A third person refused to speak to him in the parking lot.

The allegation was first raised at the start of the second trial. Jonker said he spoke privately to the juror, who denied saying a vote to convict had already been settled.

Separately, defense attorneys said the judge violated the rights of Fox and Croft by placing a time limit on the cross-examination of a star government witness.

“The defendants have neither shown that the jury’s verdict is ‘against the manifest weight of the evidence’ nor that a ‘substantial legal error’ has occurred such that the interests of justice require a new trial”, Jonker wrote in Friday’s ruling.

Croft is from Bear, Delaware. Fox lived in the Grand Rapids area of ​​western Michigan.

Two other men pleaded guilty in the federal case, while two others were acquitted.

Three other men accused of supporting terrorism in the kidnapping plot were convicted in October in state court.

Joe Morrison; Morrison’s stepfather, Pete Musico; and Paul Bellar were found guilty of providing “material support” to an act of terrorism as members of a group known as the Wolverine Watchmen. They await sentencing on December 15.

They held gun training in rural Jackson County with Fox who was disgusted with Whitmer and other officials and said he wanted to rip it off.

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ABC News

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