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In Antrim County, 2 sentenced for plot to kidnap Michigan's governor

13th Circuit Court Judge Charles Hamlyn prepares to hand down sentences to Shawn Fix and Brian Higgins in Antrim County Dec. 7.
Michael Livingston
13th Circuit Court Judge Charles Hamlyn prepares to hand down sentences to Shawn Fix and Brian Higgins in Antrim County on Dec. 7. (Photo: Michael Livingston/IPR News)

A judge on Thursday sentenced two men who admitted to aiding in the failed 2020 plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, concluding nearly three years of legal proceedings that ended in mixed results.

Wisconsin man Brian Higgins will serve 36 months of probation while Shawn Fix, of Belleville will serve 3 to 20 years in prison.

Both men pleaded guilty earlier this year to providing material support to an act of terrorism by helping to locate and surveil the governor's vacation home.

Both apologized to Whitmer before hearing their sentences.

“I’d like to apologize to the governor and to her family ... remorseful of the actions that took place that evening,” Higgins said. "I'd like to apologize to the citizens of Michigan."

Brian Higgins
Brian Higgins

Higgins was represented by Traverse City attorney Michael Naughton of North Coast Legal. He said his client had multiple mental breakdowns while held in jails for 217 days.

In a sentencing memorandum, Naughton said Higgins attempted suicide multiple times. He was treated at Munson Medical Center and later released on bond to return to Wisconsin.

"After receiving mental health treatment, Mr. Higgins' behavior has been exemplary throughout this case," the memo said. "Although this case has garnered international attention — including statements from the former president of the United States and the Attorney General — Mr. Higgins maintained his composure and poise."

13th District Court Judge Charles Hamlyn said Higgins' probation will focus specifically on mental health and trauma.

But Hamlyn said Fix's actions implied he wanted to be involved in the plot, including hosting meetings and participating in military-style drills.

Shawn Fix
Shawn Fix

Three of Fix's and Higgins' co-defendants beat similar charges in the same court after a jury trial in September.

The trial of Eric Molitor, and brothers Michael and William Null ran more than three weeks. Prosecutors presented hundreds of pieces of evidence, including recordings of the three defendants and some of their social media posts.

Of the original 14 men that were charged in state and federal court since the plot was revealed, nine have been convicted while five have been acquitted.

“Violence is never the answer, and today’s sentencing ensures that these men will be held accountable for their attempts to harm the general public, members of law enforcement and the governor,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement, which also expressed gratitude for investigators and prosecutors in her office, as well as state and federal law enforcement agencies.

Michael Livingston covers the area around the Straits of Mackinac - including Cheboygan, Charlevoix, Emmet and Otsego counties as a Report for America corps member.