A flirt? Concerns about juror in case tied to Whitmer plot

Oct 12, 2022, 3:17 PM | Updated: 4:01 pm
Paul Bellar, middle, appears before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson on Wednesday, ...

Paul Bellar, middle, appears before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022 for trial in Jackson, Mich. Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico are charged in connection with a 2020 anti-government plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (J. Scott Park/Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP, Pool)

(J. Scott Park/Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP, Pool)

Prosecutors raised concerns Wednesday about a female juror who apparently has been smiling at one of three men on trial in connection with a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.

Judge Thomas Wilson said he, too, noticed it and pledged to pay “close attention” to the juror. He said the expressions didn’t appear to be a reaction to testimony.

“She is in my direct view,” Wilson said. “So I am often looking right at her while I’m listening to the witness testify. … I’ve seen smiles come out of her face. Not great big smiles but more of a small smirk.”

The juror has been looking at Paul Bellar, 24, who was a member of a paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen. Bellar, Joe Morrison and Pete Musico are charged in state court in Jackson, Michigan, with providing material support for a terrorist act.

They’re accused of aligning with Adam Fox and others who were convicted in federal court with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Bellar, Morrison and Musico are not charged with having a direct role in the plot but were among the 14 people arrested in 2020.

The trial has lasted eight days so far, including six days of testimony by an FBI agent.

“Since the start of the trial — and we’re prepared to offer sworn testimony on this from two different witnesses — there’s been nonverbal communication” between a juror and Bellar, said Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin.

He suggested that Bellar sent a signal Wednesday by clenching his fists and shaking them in an “affirmative way.”

But Bellar’s attorney, Andrew Kirkpatrick, said that was a misinterpretation: Bellar was excited because the lawyer had offered him Skittles candy for his birthday.

“Maybe she likes him. Maybe she doesn’t like him,” Kirkpatrick said of the juror. “There’s no way of telling what’s in a juror’s mind and what exactly she’s doing or thinking.”

Musico’s attorney, Kareem Johnson, said claims of flirtatious behavior are “just sexist.”

“This is a juror that both sides agreed upon,” he said. “She is supposed to judge the witnesses and judge the defendants. She’s got to look over here.”


White reported from Detroit.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


FILE - An election worker verifies a ballot on a screen inside the Maricopa County Recorders Office...
Associated Press

Arizona counties face deadline to certify 2022 election

Six Arizona counties must decide Monday whether to certify 2022 election results amid pressure from some Republicans not to officially approve a vote count that had Democrats winning for U.S. Senate, governor and other statewide races.
9 hours ago
FILE - Meta's logo can be seen on a sign at the company's headquarters in Menlo Park, Calif., on No...
Associated Press

Irish watchdog fines Meta 265M euros in latest privacy case

LONDON (AP) — Irish regulators slapped Facebook parent Meta with a 265 million-euro ($277 million) fine Monday, the company’s latest punishment for breaching strict European Union data privacy rules. The Data Protection Commission said Meta Platforms infringed sections of the EU rules, known as the General Data Protection Regulation, that require technical and organizational measures […]
9 hours ago
This image shows the logo for the website and newsletter TheRighting, founded by long-time New York...
Associated Press

The Righting deciphers conservative media for outsiders

NEW YORK (AP) — Nearly six years into monitoring the content of conservative media outlets for his website and newsletter The Righting, Howard Polskin hasn’t lost the capacity for surprise. Case in point: when Donald Trump announced his 2024 presidential candidacy, and many of his long-time media allies let fly with anger and insults. Two […]
9 hours ago
This photo shows Charles Graves dressed as Santa Claus in Austin, Texas on on Sept. 3, 2022. Graves...
Associated Press

Santa’s back in town with inflation, inclusion on his mind

NEW YORK (AP) — Don’t look for plastic partitions or faraway benches when visiting Santa Claus this year. The jolly old elf is back, pre-pandemic style, and he’s got some pressing issues on his mind. Santa booker HireSanta.com has logged a 30% increase in demand this Christmas season over last year, after losing about 15% […]
9 hours ago
FILE - Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman and wife Gisele arrive to vote in Braddock, Pa, Tuesday...
Associated Press

Pennsylvania campaign wildcard Fetterman turns to governing

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — When John Fetterman goes to Washington in January as one of the Senate’s new members, he’ll bring along an irreverent style from Pennsylvania that extends from his own personal dress code — super casual — to hanging marijuana flags outside his current office in the state Capitol. Pennsylvania’s unique lieutenant governor, […]
9 hours ago
Associated Press

This Week: Consumer confidence, consumer spending, jobs data

A look at some of the key business events and economic indicators upcoming this week: CONFIDENCE CHECK The Conference Board delivers its latest index of U.S. consumer confidence Tuesday. Economists expect the reading fell in November to 98. That would follow a reading of 102.5 in October. A reading of 90 or better reflects a […]
9 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
Children’s Cancer Network

Children’s Cancer Network celebrates cancer-fighting superheroes, raises funds during September’s Childhood Cancer Awareness Month

Jace Hyduchak was like most other kids in his kindergarten class: He loved to play basketball, dress up like his favorite superheroes and jump as high as his pint-sized body would take him on his backyard trampoline.

Key dates for Arizona sports fans to look forward to this fall

Fall brings new beginnings in different ways for Arizona’s professional sports teams like the Cardinals and Coyotes.
A flirt? Concerns about juror in case tied to Whitmer plot