LANSING, Mich. – Five of the men charged in an alleged domestic terror plot targeting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer have been bound over for trial.
Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were back in court Friday, each facing a federal charge of conspiracy to kidnap the governor.
On Friday, defense attorneys for some of the men questioned an FBI agent who specializes in terrorism, trying to cast doubt on whether or not the men actually would have gone through with the alleged scheme.
FBI officials said the men were captured on audio tapes plotting to kidnap or kill Whitmer and overthrow the state Capitol Building.
The FBI used informants wearing wires to capture what they say is more than 100 hours of recordings proving Fox, Garbin, Franks, Harris, Caserta and Delaware resident Barry Croft should be charged.
A judge ruled that there is more than enough evidence to bind all five Michigan residents over for trial.
On Thursday, officials identified Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, as the 14th person overall to be charged in the case.
Higgins, Paul Bellar, Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor, Michael Null, William Null, Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison are charged by Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. Their charges range from threat of terrorism to gang membership to firearm violations.
Higgins, specifically, is charged with material support of an act of terrorism, a 20-year felony.
Friday’s court proceedings
The focus Friday morning in court was on Garbin, a Hartland resident.
Garbin is facing the same long list of federal charges. He’s accused of plotting to launch terror attacks and then kidnap or kill Whitmer.
A key FBI agent who focuses on terrorism took the stand to be questioned by Garbin’s attorney.
The Local 4 Defenders learned two informants wore FBI wires as the alleged plot unfolded. Under questioning, the FBI agent said there’s not video to go along with audio recordings.
The defense attorney made a point of saying the FBI can’t tell if Garbin was objecting or walking away from the talks.
FBI officials said the alleged plot was to storm the state Capitol Building or kidnap Whitmer from her northern Michigan vacation home. They also discussed targeting the Virginia governor, according to authorities.
Garbin’s attorney asked if any of the talk actually turned into action. FBI officials said they were able to stop the men before that happened.
- Original story: FBI uncovers plan to kidnap Gov. Whitmer as hostage, overthrow Michigan government, feds say
- Friday update: Everything we knew about the case as of Friday (Oct. 9)
- Full plot timeline: Deep dive into the details of a scheme to kidnap Whitmer, hold her hostage
- Plot specifics:
- Whitmer responds: Here’s what Whitmer said about group of Michiganders' plot to kidnap her
- Mugshots: View the mugshots for all 13 people officially charged in the case
- “Milita” vs. Domestic terrorism: Whitmer says, ‘They’re not militias. They’re domestic terrorists’
- Boogaloo connection: Kidnapping suspects linked to ‘boogaloo’ anti-government movement
- From first day in court (Oct. 13):
- FBI: Domestic terror group plotting against Whitmer also discussed kidnapping Virginia governor
- 3 men signed up, trained, plotted ways to kill Whitmer, according to FBI testimony
- Domestic terror plot leader wanted to leave Whitmer on boat in middle of Lake Michigan, FBI says
- How attorneys plan to defend men accused in kidnapping plot
- From second day in court (Oct. 16):
- Defense questions whether domestic terror group would have gone through with plan
- Judge binds 5 defendants over for trial