Jury urged to convict 3 in last trial tied to Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping plot
(AP) - Three men charged with assisting the leaders of a plan to kidnap Michigan’s governor were anti-government zealots committed to bringing terror to a small town in 2020, a prosecutor argued Wednesday as he urged jurors to convict them.
William Null, twin brother Michael Null and Eric Molitor are the last of 14 men to face charges in state or federal court.
They were not among the main group of six charged with a kidnapping conspiracy in federal court. Instead, they are accused of a supporting role by participating in military-style drills and traveling to see Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan.
The Nulls, 6-foot-2 and 280 pounds, were the “muscle,” a “two-man wrecking ball,” while Molitor acted as a medic during gun drills and recorded video of Whitmer’s property, Assistant Attorney General William Rollstin said during closing arguments.
They “hated their government,” Rollstin said. “All the defendants here hated police officers and were willing to go to war.”
The jury listened to 14 days of testimony in Antrim County, which is the location of Whitmer’s second home, 185 miles (297 kilometers) north of the state Capitol. Deliberations will start Thursday.
The state’s key witness again was Dan Chappel, an Army veteran who agreed to work as an informant. He has been a critical figure at four trials, explaining hours of secretly recorded conversations and countless text messages that revealed the group’s deep disgust with government. That revulsion was further fueled by restrictions imposed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chappel and undercover FBI agents were inside the group for months before arrests were made in October 2020. Whitmer was not physically harmed.
William Null, 41, and Molitor, 39, testified in their own defense. They acknowledged their anger with government but denied a role in a kidnapping plan and insisted they did not know they were going to see Whitmer’s home.
Molitor said he was scared when he figured it out but decided Adam Fox was crazy and not serious about a kidnapping. William Null said he became alarmed when talk turned to obtaining explosives and probably should have called police.
“No material support. No crime,” defense attorney Damian Nunzio said of William Null.
Defense attorney William Barnett asked jurors to focus on a key instruction during their deliberations. He said they must find that Molitor “intended” to disrupt government if they seek to convict him or the brothers of providing support for terrorism.
“Don’t get distracted,” Barnett said. “He’s an innocent man.”
Unlike his brother, Michael Null, 41, declined to testify. His attorney, Tom Siver, also didn’t question any witnesses during the trial.
“There’s not much to say when your client hasn’t done anything wrong,” Siver told the jury. He added that “the mere fact that you’re there doesn’t make you guilty,” referring to gun training and a ride to Whitmer’s home.
Rollstin said Molitor and William Null lied in court.
“They wanted to overthrow our government,” the prosecutor said. “As crazy as that sounds, that’s what they wanted. They supported Adam Fox. They supported Barry Croft.”
After the plot was thwarted, Whitmer blamed then-President Donald Trump, saying he had given “comfort to those who spread fear and hatred and division.” Out of office, Trump called the kidnapping plan a “fake deal” in 2022.
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