Jury still out in Whitmer kidnap plot trial

Sep. 15—BELLAIRE — Jurors deliberated for more than seven hours and had yet to reach a verdict when 13th Circuit Court Judge Charles Hamlyn called them back into the courtroom about 5 p.m. Thursday.

Eric Molitor and brothers Michael and William Null face charges related to a 2020 plot to kidnap the state’s governor and jurors had questions and requests for the judge before he adjourned court for the day.

Hamlyn read several notes from the jury, asking for transcripts and clarification of certain jury instructions.

Jurors wanted to know more about the definition of the word “personnel” as it applies to the crime of providing material support for an act of terrorism, a charge levied against all three defendants.

The jury also wanted to know more about the “mere presence” instruction — which states a defendant, in order to be guilty of a crime, must be a participant and not merely a knowing spectator.

Hamlyn said jurors were to consider the word “personnel” as it is commonly used in everyday speech, and on the mere presence question, he said without a more specific request, he was referring them back to his initial instruction.

Jurors also asked for two transcripts of trial testimony.

They wanted to see what William Null and an undercover FBI Agent, “Mark,” said about their brief stop in the parking lot of Amvets Post 114, a veterans’ organization on US-31 near Elk Rapids.

William Null and his brother, Michael, were both along on what prosecutors have called a nighttime surveillance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s vacation home.

“Mark” drove the truck the Nulls rode in, one of three vehicles a group of men drove from the Cadillac area on Sept. 12, 2020, north to Elk Rapids and the surrounding area.

Prosecutors said this was a planning trip to surveil the governor’s vacation property at night to formulate an attack.

Testimony shows the men stopped in the Amvets parking lot late that night and well after dark, so Adam Fox, who prosecutors have called the plot’s ringleader, could pass out assignments.

William Null testified he and his brother had been drinking that night, got out of the vehicle and walked several paces away to relieve themselves, so they did not hear this so-called tasking conversation.

Fox, testimony shows, assigned one vehicle to drive by Whitmer’s property, another vehicle to scope out a nearby public boat launch for its tactical possibilities and a third vehicle to check for any security issues in the area.

The Null brothers were in the third vehicle, evidence presented in court shows.

Michael Null did not testify, so there was no transcript of his view of the trip for jurors to request.

Judge Hamlyn told the jury his standard response to requests for transcripts was to encourage the jury to rely on their own memories, but because this was such a specific request, he would ask court staff to provide the transcripts.

Those, he said, could not be prepared immediately, but would be available to jurors when they returned to court at 9 a.m. Friday to continue deliberations.

Leave a Comment