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Witnesses say defendants in Whitmer kidnap plot were eager to carry out plan

Two key witnesses, including one from Livingston County, testified Wednesday in the retrial of two men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.

Ty Garbin of Hartland Township, and Kaleb Franks of Waterford, said the defendants were fully onboard with the plan and very eager to implement it. Garbin and Franks, who are considered vital for the government’s case, pleaded guilty following their arrest and agreed to testify for the prosecution.

Ty Garbin

Adam Fox and Barry Croft Jr. are being tried for a second time on conspiracy charges after a jury in April couldn’t reach a unanimous verdict in their cases, but acquitted two other men.

Garbin told jurors in a Grand Rapids federal court that he couldn’t recall two FBI informants who trained with the group being responsible for proposing that Whitmer should be kidnapped.

Kaleb Franks

The role of the informants became a key issue in the first trial, with defense attorneys arguing that the defendants had no real intention to kidnap Whitmer and had been entrapped.

Garbin and Franks recounted again how they trained with Fox, Croft and others in a remote area, including in a so-caller “shoot house” used to simulate the kidnapping. They also testified how the group traveled to Whitmer’s vacation home Elk Rapids at night to see a bridge that they planned to blow so as to slow up police response during an attack.

Both men said they freely joined the plot and that neither undercover FBI agents nor informants convinced them to do so.

Garbin also testified that nearly six months before they were arrested, he and Fox were at a gun rights rally at the Michigan Capitol in June 2020.

“Adam Fox had mentioned storming the Capitol building and arresting elected officials and holding them on trial for their crimes and treason,” said Garbin, adding that Whitmer was at the top of the list.

“Hang her on public TV for the world to see,” he said.

Both Garbin and Franks were questioned by defense attorneys about their guilty pleas, getting them to acknowledge that they were seeking a lighter sentence. Garbin was previously sentenced to six years in prison but could get a further reduction for his cooperation. However, both men insisted that no one asked them to lie and that their testimony was truthful.

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