AP

Jury picked in trial related to Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot

Oct 4, 2022, 3:30 PM | Updated: 3:56 pm

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A jury was seated Tuesday in the trial of three men charged in connection with a 2020 anti-government plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

The selection process lasted two days as a judge and lawyers in Jackson, Michigan, tried to weed out people who had personal conflicts — vacation, child care, work — or showed a potential for bias.

Opening statements were scheduled for Wednesday.

Joe Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar are charged with three crimes, including providing material support for a terrorist act. All were members of the Wolverine Watchmen, a paramilitary group that trained in Jackson County, about 80 miles (130 kilometers) west of Detroit.

The trio is not charged with directly participating in the kidnapping scheme, which was broken up by the FBI in October 2020. That prosecution, which was handled in federal court, produced four convictions and two acquittals.

Morrison, Musico and Bellar are accused of assisting others. The charges were filed in state court by the Michigan attorney general.

The jury will see and hear hate-filled conversations about police and public officials who were denounced as tyrants, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic when businesses were shut down, people were ordered to stay home and schools were closed.

Prospective jurors were repeatedly urged by defense lawyers to be fair and open-minded, despite what they hear. Bellar was deeply critical of police but is not charged with threatening law enforcement.

Defense attorneys insist Morrison, Musico and Bellar cut ties with Adam Fox, a leader of the kidnapping plot, before it picked up steam in summer 2020.

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Find the AP’s full coverage of the kidnapping plot cases: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial.

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Jury picked in trial related to Gov. Whitmer kidnapping plot