Jury clears 3 men in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

Jury clears 3 men in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

Jury clears 3 men in plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Whitmer

A jury acquitted three men Friday in the last trial connected to a plan to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

William Null, twin brother Michael Null and Eric Molitor were found not guilty of providing support for a terrorist act and a weapon charge. They were the last of 14 men to face charges in state or federal court. Nine were convicted and now five have been cleared.

The Nulls and Molitor were accused of supporting leaders of the plan by participating in military-style drills and traveling to see Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan. The key players, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., were convicted of a kidnapping conspiracy last year in a different court.

In the latest trial, the jury heard 14 days of testimony in Antrim County, the location of Whitmer’s lakeside property, 185 miles north of the state Capitol.

There were gasps in the courtroom Friday morning as the jury foreperson announced not guilty verdicts, first for the brothers and then Molitor. Deliberations began Thursday morning and lasted a few more hours Friday.

The men cried as they hugged their lawyers and supporters.

“You gentlemen are free to leave,” Judge Charles Hamlyn said.

Authorities have said an attack on Whitmer began to simmer at a regional summit of the group in Dublin, Ohio, in summer 2020. Fox, Croft and William Null were in attendance while an FBI informant also inside the gathering secretly recorded profanity-laced screeds threatening violence against public officials.

The disgust was also fueled by government-imposed restrictions during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to recordings, text messages and social media posts introduced as evidence at trial.

Whitmer's chief of staff, JoAnne Huls, said the verdicts were disappointing and would “further encourage and embolden radical extremists trying to sow discord and harm public officials or law enforcement.”

Molitor, 39, and William Null, 41, testified in their own defense, admitting they had attended gun drills and taken rides to check Whitmer’s property. But William Null said he and his brother broke away when talk turned to getting explosives. Molitor said Fox was “incredibly dumb” and wouldn’t pull off a kidnapping.