Defense attorneys rebut FBI claims in alleged plot against Gov. Whitmer

Violent rhetoric was satirical, attorneys argue

JACKSON, Mich. – Defense attorneys for Pete Musico, his son-in-law Joseph Morrison and Paul Bellar -- who are accused of being involved in a domestic terrorism plot to kidnap or kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer -- claim things only became serious when the FBI informant became involved.

READ: Who are the Wolverine Watchmen? What is ‘boogaloo’?

Thursday was day two of the hearing for the three members of the Wolverine Watchmen. The hearing will determine if there is enough evidence to send the men to trial in the domestic terrorism plot against Whitmer and storm the Lansing Capitol Building.

Prosecutors laid out their arguments Wednesday. They claimed Musico, Morrison and Bellar not only formed the Wolverine Watchmen, but used social media to recruit other members who were anti-government.

Attorneys pushed back against the claims that the three intended to act violently Thursday.

The attorney for Morrison made the claim that the members of the Wolverine Watchmen were training in Munith to protect against far-fetched threats like the United States being invaded or the need to tactically sweep their homes.

The defense also portrayed the violent rhetoric about Whitmer as satirical and that their activities only escalated after an FBI informant got involved.

It’s a similar defense to what was used by attorneys representing members of the Hutaree group in 2012. The self-proclaimed religious group, based out of Lenawee County, was raided by the FBI in 2010.

Prosecutors argued the group planned to make a false 911 call, kill responding police officers and set off a bomb at the funeral to kill more police and civilians.

A federal judge acquitted seven Hutaree defendants in 2012 of charges related to conspiracy and sedition.

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