US doesn’t object to trial delay in Whitmer kidnapping case

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a news conference July 1, 2021
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during a news conference July 1, 2021 (WDIV)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Federal prosecutors are not objecting to a delay in the fall trial of five men accused of planning to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The government said it wouldn't be harmed by a postponement, noting that it hasn't made significant payments for travel by witnesses or their lodging.

“There is indeed voluminous evidence in the case, including many hours of audio recordings,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said in a court filing Tuesday. “The government is not in a position to assess whether counsel for the defendants need additional time for effective preparation.”

Trial in federal court in Grand Rapids has been set for Oct. 12. The defendants would like a 90-day extension for all key dates in the case. A hearing was scheduled for Friday.

Defense attorneys last week said they were still plowing through hours of conversation secretly recorded by informants and FBI agents.

The government said the five men upset over coronavirus restrictions conspired to kidnap Whitmer, a Democrat, even scouting her second home in northern Michigan. They've pleaded not guilty and claim to be victims of entrapment.

A sixth man, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty and was recently sentenced to slightly more than six years in prison.