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Federal judge hears arguments over evidence in alleged kidnap plot case

Kidnapping plot evidence
courtesy U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Michigan
A training exercise involving the men accused of plotting to kidnap Governor Gretchen Whitmer

A federal judge in Grand Rapids heard arguments Tuesday over which evidence can be admitted in the trial over the alleged plot to kidnap governor Gretchen Whitmer.

Defense attorneys have been arguing that there was no agreement among the men about the plot, and the whole scheme was driven by FBI agents and confidential informants. In a filing submitted in December, they offered more than 250 statements that were either recorded or captured in screenshots that they want to be able to introduce at trial.

Attorneys for the five men facing charges in federal court say the statements show the extent to which FBI agents and two confidential informants inside the alleged plot were pushing the men into the scheme.

One man, Ty Garbin, already plead guilty to the charge of conspiracy to kidnap the governor. Garbin is expected to testify at trial against the other five men.

On Tuesday, attorneys made their arguments over which statements could be shown to jurors at trial.

Federal judge Robert Jonker said he’d rule on the evidence materials as soon as he can. The trial is scheduled to begin March 8.

Dustin Dwyer reports enterprise and long-form stories from Michigan Radio’s West Michigan bureau. He was a fellow in the class of 2018 at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard. He’s been with Michigan Radio since 2004, when he started as an intern in the newsroom.
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