Three men have been convicted of helping plan the kidnapping of the governor. Gretchen Whitmer, a 2020 Michigan class, was sentenced Thursday to a lengthy sentence that could last at least seven years.
The three men, Paul Berard, 24, Joseph Morrison, 28, and Pete Mucico, 45, were found guilty in October of helping to plan the kidnapping of Democratic Gov. Whitmer , part of the right-wing opposition to her role in the state’s coronavirus restrictions. The men, all Michigan residents, were convicted on charges of providing material support to acts of terrorism and illegal gang membership, as well as felony firearms charges.
The trial is one in a series of cases that grew out of a broad domestic terrorism investigation into the kidnapping plot. Federal prosecutors have had mixed results, with convictions and acquittals. Overall, the cases are seen as highlighting the rising threat of political violence in the United States.
Mr. Jackson was sentenced by Judge Thomas Wilson, Chief Judge of the Jackson County Circuit Court and Probate Court. Musico will be sentenced to at least 12 years in prison, including five to 20 consecutive years for gang membership, five to 20 years for supporting a terrorist act and two years for firearms charges.
gentlemen. Morrison was sentenced to at least 10 years in prison, including two consecutive sentences of between four and 20 years for gang membership and supporting terrorism, and another two years for firearms violations.
gentlemen. Bellar was sentenced to at least seven years in prison, along with five to 20 years for gang membership, four to 20 years for supporting terrorism, and two consecutive years for firearms charges.
The three are each serving a maximum of 20 years in prison.
During arguments before Judge Wilson, lawyers for the defendants argued that the trio had nothing to do with the kidnapping plot, emphasizing that there was no evidence Governor Whitmer suffered serious psychological harm as a result of the plot.
Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani urged Judge Wilson to impose consecutive sentences in the top third of the state’s guidelines.
“Now is the time to hold them accountable with long prison terms, because the goal of terrorism is to create fear,” she said. Damani said. “The only way to beat it is not to give in to that fear.”
The men were convicted of joining an illegal gang because of their ties to the Wolverine Watchers, a militia whose members openly discuss violence against politicians and police officers.
During the pandemic, Governor Whitmer has been targeted by anti-government groups who see her Covid-control measures as authoritarian. She was re-elected easily last month, defeating a Republican opponent backed by former President Donald J. Trump.
In a recorded video, Gov. Whitmer said the kidnapping plot had a clear negative impact on her and urged Judge Wilson to “sentence based on the gravity of the threat to our democracy.”
“I now scan the crowd for threats,” she said. “I think about the last words I say to people when we’re apart. When I’m out in public, I worry about the safety of everyone near me.”
gentlemen. Morrison; his father-in-law, Mr. Musician; and Mr. Berard and Adam Fox, the leader of the kidnapping plot, organized gun training in Jackson County, Michigan. Although the man sentenced Thursday was not charged with terrorist acts, prosecutors told jurors the defendant’s actions helped support a conspiracy, which constituted a crime.
Earlier this year, Mr. Fox and his co-defendant Barry Croft were convicted in federal court of conspiring to kidnap Governor Whitmer. gentlemen. Both Fox and Mr Croft face life in prison and are due to be sentenced this month.
“Your Honor, I have misjudged,” Mr. Musico addressed Judge Wilson in a trembling voice. “I’ve always been a good citizen, I’ve always been a family man, I’ve been taking care of my family for a long time.”
In a statement in court, Mr. Morrison announced his abandonment of the Wolverine Watchers organization and expressed regret about joining the anti-government extremist group.
“I really regret ever allowing myself any association with anyone who thought that way, especially Mr. Fox,” he said. “I regret that I ever let the hate, the fear and the anger get inside me like I did before.”
Before Judge Wilson, sir. Baylor apologized to Governor Whitmer, saying he “in no way meant her any harm” and apologized to his friends and family in court.
At a briefing after the sentencing hearing, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said the length of the sentence would serve as a warning against extremist behavior in the United States.
“The criminal justice system will treat acts of domestic terrorism with the utmost seriousness and seriousness,” she said.