GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The jury in the trial of four men accused of scheming to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ended its fourth day of deliberations Thursday and said it wants to look at evidence related to an explosive when it resumes its work.
The jury gave no signal to the judge that it's struggling to reach decisions about the defendants: Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.
When jurors return for more deliberations Friday, they said they want to see pennies that, according to the government, were part of a homemade explosive detonated while the men trained in September 2020.
“We will have that for you,” U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said, adding that they can look at any evidence that was introduced during 13 days of testimony.
Pennies taped to a commercial-grade firework were intended to act like shrapnel, investigators said.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler, in his closing argument, said the explosive was created by Croft. He quoted him as saying the pennies would be so hot they could go “right through your skin.”
Earlier in the week, the jury asked for a definition of “weapon.” Jonker said it's something that could be used to “injure, kill or destroy someone or something.”
The jury is considering 10 charges in the case: one against Caserta, two against Fox, three against Croft and four against Harris. The men all face the main charge of a kidnapping conspiracy; the other counts are related to explosives and a firearm.
A conviction on any count must be unanimous.
“We can all see you're hard at work,” Jonker told the jury. “It can be an exhausting way to spend spring break. We know that because that room is not huge. It gets smaller each time you come back and spend more time looking through everything. We appreciate your diligence.”
The evidence included testimony from undercover agents, a crucial informant and two men who pleaded guilty to conspiracy and pointed a finger at the others. Prosecutors said the group was steeped in anti-government extremism and angry over Whitmer's COVID-19 restrictions.
The men trained with a crudely built “shoot house” to replicate her vacation home in September 2020, according to testimony.
Defense lawyers, however, said any scheme was the creation of government agents who were embedded in the group and manipulated the men.
Croft is from Bear, Delaware, while the others are from Michigan.
Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely talks publicly about the plot, though she referred to “surprises” during her term that seemed like “something out of fiction” when she filed for reelection on March 17.
She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case.
Find AP’s full coverage of the Whitmer kidnap plot trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial
White reported from Detroit.