Judges Deals Setback To Prosecutors In Whitmer Plot Case
February 18, 2021
By Jon King / firstname.lastname@example.org
A Grand Rapids federal judge is refusing to allow secret grand jury testimony, some of it involving a Livingston County man, to be shared with state prosecutors as they try to convict eight men on terrorism charges related to the alleged plot to kidnap and kill Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
The Detroit News reports that U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker on Tuesday denied the request that had been made last month by federal prosecutors following the plea deal announced for Hartland Township resident Ty Garbin. The 25-year-old pleaded guilty to kidnapping conspiracy and agreed to help prosecutors, including testifying to a grand jury.
In his ruling, Judge Jonker said that prosecutors had failed to “demonstrate a 'particularized need' for the material to overcome the presumption of secrecy.” The ruling, while a setback, doesn’t preclude prosecutors from providing additional details to demonstrate a link between the federal and state cases in which Garbin and 13 others are accused of being violent extremists who hatched the plot in retaliation for Whitmer’s COVID-19 restrictions last spring on travel and business.
Defense attorneys have previously said their clients were “big talkers “ who had no intention of actually carrying out the plan that investigators say involved attacking Whitmer’s vacation home in northern Michigan and kidnapping her. Some of the defendants openly spoke of murdering her. The state charges involve a separate, but related, plot to storm the Capitol building in Lansing.
Prosecutors say Garbin held training sessions at a property he owned in Luther. That’s where the FBI says the group trained to assault Whitmer’s vacation home.