AP

Informant’s Army past raised at trial tied to Whitmer plot

Oct 13, 2022, 3:16 PM | Updated: 3:35 pm

A defense lawyer lashed out Thursday at a star witness in a trial related to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, accusing the Army veteran of “stolen valor” and questioning why he wasn’t given a Purple Heart if he was truly injured in Iraq.

The ruckus broke out in front of jurors and continued after they were excused. Defense attorneys and prosecutors raised their voices over each other. At one point, an FBI agent firmly told lawyer Leonard Ballard to “back up, please.”

“Judge, it’s literally hurting my ears. I just can’t listen to it anymore,” state Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani pleaded.

The commotion occurred on the ninth day of trial in Jackson, Michigan, where three members of a paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen, are charged with providing material support for a terrorist act.

Joe Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar are not accused of directly participating in the Whitmer kidnapping scheme. But state prosecutors said they provided training and support to key players who were subsequently convicted of conspiracy in federal court.

Just like in the federal case, a crucial witness against the three men is Dan Chappel. He agreed in 2020 to become an informant, embedding himself for months inside the Watchmen after reporting to the FBI that the group talked chillingly about attacking police.

In response to questions from prosecutors, Chappel, 36, explained that he was simply looking for a way to maintain his gun skills when he joined the group, years after serving with the Army in Iraq. He told jurors that he suffered back and head trauma overseas that sometimes affected his memory.

Ballard, who is Morrison’s lawyer, pounced during cross-examination, challenging Chappel over his lack of a Purple Heart, a medal typically given to people injured in combat.

“It’s relevant because they have put his combat, and his combat ability, and his combat wounds and everything into evidence,” Ballard said, referring to prosecutors. “They said this is who and what he is. It goes to his credibility.”

Ballard, a former Marine, said a Purple Heart for Chappel’s injuries should have been automatic under Army regulations. But Chappel said his injuries weren’t diagnosed by doctors until later.

“This witness can’t get away with misrepresenting his conduct, his service, his valor — which I would argue is stolen valor in this matter — to these 15 people,” Ballard said of the jury.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin fired back, accusing Ballard of “besmirching this man’s integrity.”

“What’s (Ballard’s) point: He does or doesn’t have a Purple Heart so now you shouldn’t believe his testimony?” Rollstin asked.

Judge Thomas Wilson said Chappel would get an opportunity Friday to more fully explain his injuries to the jury.

“Then I’ll allow you to ask him if he ever had the Purple Heart,” Wilson told Ballard.

___

White reported from Detroit.

___

Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwritez

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

AP

Israeli Embassy...

Associated Press

US airman dies after setting himself ablaze outside Israeli Embassy in Israel-Hamas war protest

An active-duty member of the U.S. Air Force has died after he set himself ablaze outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington, D.C.

9 hours ago

Biden and Trump to visit Mexico border Thursday immigration...

Associated Press

Biden and Trump both plan trips to the Mexico border Thursday, dueling for advantage on immigration

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will make dueling trips to the U.S-Mexico border on Thursday.

10 hours ago

Arizona and New York attorneys feud over extraditing suspect...

Associated Press

Why Alvin Bragg and Rachel Mitchell are fighting over extraditing suspect in New York hotel killing

Maricopa County Attorney Rachel Mitchell says she isn't into extraditing a suspect due to her lack of faith in Manhattan’s top prosecutor.

4 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018. A 34-year-old Color...

Associated Press

Colorado man dies after being bitten by pet Gila monster

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death by one of the desert lizards if the creature's venom turns out to have been the cause.

5 days ago

Police clear the area following a shooting at the Kansas City Chiefs NFL football Super Bowl celebr...

Associated Press

1 dead, many wounded after shooting at Kansas City Chiefs’ Super Bowl victory parade

One person died after 22 people were hit by gunfire in a shooting at the end of the Kansas Chiefs' Super Bowl victory celebration Wednesday.

13 days ago

This image from House Television shows House Speaker Mike Johnson of La., banging the gavel after h...

Associated Press

GOP-led House impeaches Homeland Security Secretary Mayorkas — by one vote — over border management

Having failed to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas the first time, House Republicans are determined to try again Tuesday.

13 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

Collins Comfort Masters

Avoid a potential emergency and get your home’s heating and furnace safety checked

With the weather getting colder throughout the Valley, the best time to make sure your heating is all up to date is now. 

...

Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Valley residents should be mindful of plumbing ahead of holidays

With Halloween in the rear-view and more holidays coming up, Day & Night recommends that Valley residents prepare accordingly.

...

Sanderson Ford

The best ways to honor our heroes on Veterans Day and give back to the community

Veterans Day is fast approaching and there's no better way to support our veterans than to donate to the Military Assistance Mission.

Informant’s Army past raised at trial tied to Whitmer plot