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Judge to decide on trial for 3 in Gov. Whitmer kidnap plot

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Defendants say they are victims of entrapment.

A judge is scheduled to rule on whether three men charged in a plot to kidnap Democratic Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer before the 2020 election were entrapped by the FBI. Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson set a video conference Tuesday afternoon to determine if Joseph Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar will stand trial.

They are charged with providing materials to support terrorist acts, attempting to commit a felony as an associate or member of gang, and gun charges in the plot to kidnap Whitmer. Investigators have described them as anti-government extremists who were angry over coronavirus policies and restrictions imposed by the governor during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

They are accused of aiding six others who are charged in federal court with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Five more people are also charged in state courts. The FBI said it broke up a plot.

However, the defendants claim they are victims of entrapment by law enforcement officials, and that FBI agents, posing as co-conspirators were growing increasingly frustrated at the lack of action by the group, that they were the ones who hatched the kidnapping plan and egged on the others to go along.

According to a court affidavit, Musico and Morrison are founding members of the Wolverine Watchmen, which authorities described as “an anti-government, anti-law enforcement militia group.”

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