GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) — Jurors entered a fifth day of deliberations Friday with pennies that were offered as evidence of an explosive earlier in the trial of four men charged with conspiring to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
A court employee handed over a large plastic bag known as exhibit 291. The pennies were requested before jurors went home Thursday.
“If you want something different or something additional, just let us know,” U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker said. “We wish you well in your continuing deliberations.”
The jury is considering 10 charges in the case: one against Brandon Caserta, two against Adam Fox, three against Barry Croft Jr. and four against Daniel Harris. The men all face the main charge of a kidnapping conspiracy; the other counts are related to explosives and a firearm.
Pennies taped to a commercial-grade firework were intended to act like shrapnel, investigators said.
A homemade explosive was detonated during training in September 2020, according to evidence, about a month before the men were arrested.
In his closing argument on April 1, Assistant U.S. Attorney Nils Kessler said Croft wanted to test the explosive as a possible weapon to use against Whitmer’s security team. He quoted him as saying the pennies would be so hot they could go “right through your skin.”
The trial now has covered 20 days since March 8, including jury selection, evidence, final arguments and jury deliberations.
Prosecutors offered testimony from undercover agents, a crucial informant and two men who pleaded guilty to the plot. Jurors also read and heard secretly recorded conversations, violent social media posts and chat messages.
Prosecutors said the group was steeped in anti-government extremism and angry over Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions.
Defense lawyers, however, said any scheme was the creation of government agents who were embedded in the group and manipulated the men.
Croft is from Bear, Delaware, while the others are from Michigan.
Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely talks publicly about the plot, though she referred to “surprises” during her term that seemed like “something out of fiction” when she filed for reelection on March 17.
She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fomenting anger over coronavirus restrictions and refusing to condemn right-wing extremists like those charged in the case.
Find AP’s full coverage of the Whitmer kidnap plot trial at: https://apnews.com/hub/whitmer-kidnap-plot-trial
White reported from Detroit.