Judge sets new Whitmer kidnap case trial date in federal court

Robert Snell
The Detroit News

A federal judge Monday reset next month's trial of five men accused of plotting to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer to March 8 to give defense lawyers more time to prepare and investigate the conduct of FBI agents.

The move by U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker comes three days after defense lawyers requested a delay due to a large amount of evidence and questions about whether FBI agents and as many as 12 informants drove the conspiracy and entrapped the defendants. Defense lawyers also have raised questions about whether another FBI agent had an undisclosed financial incentive.  

The trial is expected to last three weeks or longer and is in one of the most closely watched cases involving alleged violent extremism in the country.

Prosecutors say the accused plotters were driven by anger over state restrictions on travel and business during the COVID-19 pandemic, though defense lawyers have said there was no plot.

The five men face a range of charges, including kidnapping and weapons of mass destruction conspiracies, and face up to life in prison if convicted. Another eight people have been charged in state court with crimes related to the kidnapping plot and threats to overthrow the government. 

A sixth man, Hartland Township resident Ty Garbin, has pleaded guilty and is expected to be the government's star witness.

Eight others are facing state charges.

rsnell@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @robertsnellnews