Defense questions whether domestic terror group targeting Whitmer would have gone through with plan

Brian Higgins, of Wisconsin, charged with material support of an act of terrorism

The preliminary hearing began Tuesday and featured hours of testimony by a lead FBI agent on the Michigan case, revealing new detail about investigators' use of confidential informants, undercover agents and encrypted communication to thwart the purported scheme.

LANSING, Mich. – The defense attorneys for two of the men charged in connection with a domestic terror plot targeting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer are trying to cast doubt on whether the men actually planned to go through with their scheme.

14 charged

Hearings continued Friday for five of the six men facing federal charges in connection with the case: Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta. The sixth, Barry Croft, is a Delaware resident.

They’ve all been charged federally with conspiracy to kidnap the governor.

On Thursday, officials identified Brian Higgins, 51, of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, as the 14th person overall to be charged in the case.

Brian Higgins was charged after the FBI uncovered a domestic terror plot targeting Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (WDIV)

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.

Ty Garbin (WDIV)

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.

14th suspect charged in plot to kidnap Gov. Whitmer

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About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.