OAN’s Taylor Tinsley
1:48 PM – Thursday, September 15, 2023
Three men charged with contributing material support in the plot to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer have been found not guilty.
An Antrim County jury handed down the unanimous verdict on Friday, exonerating Eric Molitor, 39, and 41-year old twin brothers Michael and William Null after more than 10 hours of deliberation.
“The bonds have been terminated, you gentlemen are free to leave,” said Judge Charles Hamlyn.
The three defendants were charged with providing material support to a terrorist plan and possessing a firearm. The first charge alone carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison.
The FBI began its investigation into the kidnapping plot in 2020. The agency used multiple informants and undercover agents to infiltrate the plan, which sought to kidnap Governor Whitmer (D-Mich.) from her Elk Rapids cabin during the onset of Coronavirus lockdowns.
The trial lasted for two weeks and jurors heard more than 100 hours of testimony. Molitor and William Null testified in their own defense. Michael Null did not testify and his lawyer also declined to question any witnesses during the trial.
Prosecutors argued the defendants were going to help the key players behind the plot “bring terrorism to Antrim County.”
The defendants acknowledged they were fed up with the government but had no intent of using violence against Governor Whitmer or local law enforcement. While testifying in their own defense, Molitor and William Null said they discovered the true nature of the plot last minute.
During his testimony, William Null said “It seemed to be getting serious at that point in time, yeah. Again, I don’t know if they were ever going to go through with it, but it was enough for me to not want to be involved.”
The case became popular during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic, also a time when political violence and protests in America reached new heights.
A main argument in the case was whether the defendants knew that they were contributing to a terrorist act, along with the role FBI informants had leading up to their arrests.
William Barnet, who is Molitor’s attorney, said during closing arguments that mid-trial the prosecution played several purposefully misedited tapes.
“They were short, abbreviated, out of context video clips cutting off Eric Molitor mid sentence, giving you false impressions as to his statements… Why would the government do this?” he questioned. “Why are they putting on a tape that’s shortened with Eric’s mouth wide open? That’s the evidence they’re presenting to you, why would they go to that level? It’s because their case is weak.”
The defendants, their families, and even some of their lawyers broke down in tears following the verdict.
Out of the 14 men accused in the plot in total, 9 have been convicted and five have been exonerated.
The key leaders behind the plot, Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr., were both convicted of kidnapping conspiracy last year. Fox is serving 16 years behind bars and Croft was sentenced to nearly 20 years.
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