Defendant takes stand in Whitmer kidnap plot trial, admits to suggesting ways to kill governor

Daniel Harris only defendant to take stand in own defense

On Thursday (March 31), the defense rested in the trial of the four men accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Closing arguments are expected Friday, and then the case goes to the jury. But before that happens, Governor Whitmer weighed in with her thoughts on the trial thus far.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The defense rested on Thursday in the trial of the four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

Closing arguments are expected to be heard on Friday (April 1) and then the case goes to the jury. Before that happens, Whitmer weighed in with her thoughts on the trial so far.

“I see the headlines and I see some of the depraved things that were talked about and, and it’s jarring. I’m an ordinary person in an extraordinary role serving in an extraordinary time,” Whitmer said.

Daniel Harris took the stand on Thursday and the trial took a heated turn. Prosecutors said Wolverine Watchmen member Dan Chappel was so alarmed by talk and messages being exchanged within the group focused on violence and kidnapping Whitmer that Chappel turned into an FBI informant.

That lead to an immediate clash between Harris and prosecutor Jonathan Roth. Harris was the only one of the four men to testify in his own defense.


Roth: Dan Chappel called police.

Harris: He’s a bi***.

Roth: Tell me about that, sir.

Harris: Next question.

Roth: No, tell me why he’s a bi***?

Harris: He gets scared by memes, scared by words. Yet you say you went to Iraq. But words hurt you and scare you. You’re a bi***. Words are words.


Harris framed that the weapons training was to keep his military skills sharp and to be ready if “everything goes to (expletive),” saying if there is no government, they need to protect themselves.

Harris admitted he made explosives because he said blowing things up was fun. A secret recording was played of Harris telling the group that he knew someone who could make explosives for them -- leading to this fiery exchange.


Roth: You were looking for a bombmaker, yes?

Harris: Dan (FBI informant) wanted me to, yes.

Roth: You were looking for a bombmaker.

Harris: At Dan’s direction.

Judge Robert Jonker: Everyone can take it down a notch.


Harris said twenty times, “absolutely no,” when he was asked if he had agreed to kidnap Whitmer. He also had some choice words about Whitmer.


Roth: Governor Whitmer is a tyrant?

Harris: Not really, just a governor to me.

Roth: A nice woman doing her job.

Harris: Very poorly.


The defense rested on Thursday in the trial of the four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. Closing arguments are expected to be heard on Friday (April 1) and then the case goes to the jury. Beofre that happens, Whitmer weighed in with her thoughts on the trial so far.

Federal prosecutors showed Daniel Harris in is own words in an encrypted group chat with other members of the Wolverine Watchmen.


Roth: You suggest ways of killing her.

Harris: Yup.

Roth: Doming her coming to work? Meaning shoot her in her head, correct? Pose as a pizza person and kill her at home with three rounds?

Harris: Yup.


Harris argued he threw out those violent ideas because he was tired of the group constantly messaging about kidnapping Whitmer and was completely against the plan. He said at one point he threw his hat at a meeting because he was so tired of the talk.

He called Croft a stoned, whacked-out pirate. When Croft alluded to killing people, Harris said he didn’t quit the group.


Roth: Kaleb Franks testified that he was definitely going to kidnap the governor. Ty Garbin testified that he definitely was going to kidnap the governor.

Harris: Correct.

Roth: You continued to hang out with them.

Harris: Correct.

Roth: You never said, ’guys we can’t do this.’

Harris: Correct.


Closing arguments will be heard Friday (April 1) and then it will be up to the jury to determine if the men are guilty or not.

Read: Complete Whitmer kidnapping plot coverage


Have information? You can reach the Local 4 Defenders investigative team by calling 313-962-9348, or you can fill out this online form.



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.

Kayla is a Web Producer for ClickOnDetroit. Before she joined the team in 2018 she worked at WILX in Lansing as a digital producer.