Published: Sun, October 18, 2020
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Judge finds cases can move forward against 5 in Michigan governor plot

Judge finds cases can move forward against 5 in Michigan governor plot

Franks is one of several people charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, authorities said Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020, in announcing charges in an alleged scheme that involved months of planning and even rehearsals to snatch Whitmer from her vacation home. That is required for them to face trial.

Fox and Croft were among those who attended that session, according to testimony and court documents.

Police arrested Higgins in Wisconsin on Thursday and he is jailed pending extradition to MI, where he's expected to face trial alongside seven other suspects charged with crimes under Michigan's anti-terrorism and firearms statutes.

Prosecutors say the men also sought to target law enforcement officers at their homes for intimidation, made threats of violence to incite civil unrest and trained for an operation to storm the MI state capitol in Lansing to take government officials hostage.

Ty Garbin had actually been apprehended for apparently scheming with others to kidnap Whitmer from her upstate MI villa, consisting of casing out her home in the evening with his cohorts over the weekend of September 12 and 13.

The men could get up to life in prison if convicted.

She disagreed with defense attorneys who tried to argue that the plot amounted to just "loose talk".

Higgins participated "in a plan of domestic terrorism that included storming the Michigan Capitol building and harming government officials, "the attorney general's office said".

During a weekend trip to land owned by Garbin in Luther between September 12 and September 13, the Federal Bureau of Investigation says the group, including a "Wisconsin man", split up into three cars and performed a nighttime surveillance mission at and near Whitmer's vacation home where they discussed detonating a highway overpass to slow down any potential police response. Authorities found conversations among group members in which they were anxious that federal authorities had infiltrated their planning sessions, he said.

A preliminary hearing is sometimes described as a mini-trial but requires a lower standard of proof - probable cause - than a criminal trial.

"The fact that (the plan) was likely to be unsuccessful or hard to accomplish" isn't relevant to decide whether there is probable cause that they made a plan, she said.

"If this whole thing, you know, starts to happen, I'm telling you what, dude, I'm taking out as many of those motherfuckers as I can", Brandon Caserta, a 32-year-old man from Canton, says in one video. Sgt. Michael Fink said in an affidavit released Thursday. Police arrested Bellar in SC, where he is awaiting extradition to MI, which is expected to occur by October 27, the AG's Office said.

In a photo provided by the Kent County Sheriff, Brandon Caserta is shown in a booking photo.

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