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Deliberations to continue in Jackson County trial for men accused of helping kidnapping plot

U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan

Jurors will continue deliberations Wednesday in Jackson County in the latest trial for men accused of helping in the plot to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.

Fourteen men total were charged in the case. Two so far were found guilty in federal court. Two others pleaded guilty, and two were found not guilty.

The trial in Jackson County is the first in state courts. Tuesday, jurors requested more information about secret recordings made at a meeting in 2020.

“And that’s when I, well I don’t think I even sent anything back at that point,” Judge Thomas Wilson told attorneys. “I said it wasn’t all admitted into evidence because it was approximately three hours long.”

Defense attorneys have argued that prosecutors selectively chose audio clips out of over a thousand hours of secret recordings in the case. They say the three men on trial in Jackson County never agreed to the kidnapping plans.

Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico are charged with providing material support for a terrorist act, being gang members and possessing firearms while committing a felony. Prosecutors have argued they weren’t the ringleaders of the plot, but they helped train Adam Fox, who was convicted in August in federal court.

“Remember the charge isn’t that they committed the terrorist act and went after the governor,” said assistant attorney general William Rollstin, about the Jackson County defendants. “The charge is that they provided material support to the person that did.”

Copyright 2022 Michigan Radio. To see more, visit Michigan Radio.

Dustin Dwyer is a reporter for a new project at Michigan Radio that will look at improving economic opportunities for low-income children. Previously, he worked as an online journalist for Changing Gears, as a freelance reporter and as Michigan Radio's West Michigan Reporter. Before he joined Michigan Radio, Dustin interned at NPR's Talk of the Nation, wrote freelance stories for The Jackson Citizen-Patriot and completed a Reporting & Writing Fellowship at the Poynter Institute.