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86th District Court judge eases bond requirements for twin brothers accused in terrorist plot

86th District Court Zoom

Update 10/4/20: Both Null brothers have made their bonds and were released Thursday from the Grand Traverse County jail.

An 86th District judge agreed to conditions Wednesday that make putting up bail much easier for two men charged with aiding in a terrorist plot.

West Michigan residents Michael and William Null are among eight men facing state charges for a plot that included attacks against government officials, including Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Many of those men, along with six others facing federal charges, were part of militia groups, including the Michigan Liberty Militia and the Wolverine Watchmen.

The Nulls were charged in October with providing material support in a terrorist act as well as felony weapons charges.

Lawyers for the Null brothers asked the bonds amounts be lowered. Both men were at the Grand Traverse County Jail and did not attend the hearing.

Tom Siver, legal council for Michael Null, called the $250,000 cash bond “constitutionally excessive.”

"The charges against the defendant are classified as crimes against public order or crimes against public safety," he said. "The defendants are not charged with crimes against a personal offense."

The attorneys cited the brothers’ strong ties to the West Michigan community — including close family and local contracting work.

Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani said her office is opposed to a bail reduction because the Nulls are extremely dangerous. She said they amassed an arsenal of more than 30 weapons and plotted violent attacks against government officials.

"They were clearly motivated to commit political violence and they were at the table early with multi-state meetings with militias as early as June," Doddamani said.

She added the Nulls were armed during the surveillance.

Siver later disputed the state's claims that the Nulls went on the surveillance trip to Gov. Whitmer's vacation property in Elk Rapids. Doddamani replied the AG's office has recorded proof of the activity and that it will be presented at the preliminary exam later this month.

Judge Michael Stepka said he was concerned about the safety of government workers, but ultimately allowed for a 10% surety allowance on the bonds, meaning the defendants could be released if they pay $25,000 in cash and someone guarantees their full bond.

If they make bond, the men will be required to wear a GPS tracker and may not leave their home except to meet with their lawyers or go to work.

Michael and William Null are due before the Antrim County court again on Dec. 16 for a preliminary exam.

Taylor Wizner covers heath, tourism and other news for Interlochen Public Radio.