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Last 3 defendants in Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot found not guilty

UPI

Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Three Michigan men tied to a fanciful plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer during the height of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic because of her strict shutdown rules were found not guilty on state charges by a jury on Friday.

The Antrim County jury deliberated for a day before finding twin brothers William and Michael Null and Eric Molitor not guilty on all counts. The verdicts brought an end to the three-week trial that brought Molitor to tears.

The sprawling case led to more than a dozen people being arrested for the alleged plot to kidnap Whitmer at her vacation home. In all, juries convicted five people and acquitted five others while four defendants accepted plea deals.

"[Friday's verdicts were] not what we hoped for," said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. "The successes we have achieved throughout these cases, in both state and federal courts, sends a clear message that acts of domestic terrorism will not be tolerated in our state."

In his closing argument, William Barnett, Molitor's defense attorney, accused prosecutors of trying to mislead jurors during the trial, describing the case against his client as "weak."

"This thing just became a good story they couldn't back out of," Barnett said. "They're here pulling the shortcuts to try to get somebody convicted, an innocent person."

Prosecutors said, though, the three were important parts of the puzzle in the plot to kidnap Whitmer. They described the Null twins as providing the "muscle" for the plan while Monitor acted as an advance person by making a video recording of Whitmer's property in Antrim County.