The fate of four men accused of plotting to kidnap Michigan’s governor rests in the hands of six men and six women — many of them from Up North, all of them white.
The names of the jurors were kept confidential to protect their privacy, and they were assigned numbers instead. The Free Press covered the daylong jury selection process, which ended with 18 people getting picked, including six alternates who didn’t know they were alternates and listened to the whole trial. Of the 18, four own guns.
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Here is a look at many who made the final cut to decide this historic case about a group of militia members who allegedly plotted to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer out of anger over her COVID-19 restrictions.
- A man from Up North who works as a compliance officer at a casino and plays hockey with cops and firefighters. He said he has no biases.
- A man who is a Michigan State fan and tool and die engineer who said he can be a fair juror.
- A man who owns an AR-15 rifle, which he described as a former military weapon that sits in his closet most of the time. He works third shift in a factory of some sort, and works out at a gym. He noted his rifle is now a semi-automatic.
- A man who works as a CT scan technologist who concerns expresses with missing work, but said he could handle the issues of the trial.
- A man who works at a molding and plastics plant, hunts and owns multiple guns, including an assault rifle because, he said, “I like the style of it.”
- A man who said he was excited to be on the jury.
- A woman who works as a secretary at a university. She said she can be fair and impartial and made a comment stating, “I don’t believe everything I hear until I see receipts.” She said she has no cable TV, but had heard about the Whitmer kidnap plot case.
- A woman who described herself as a “news junkie,” but said that she only reads headlines. She said she was aware of the Whitmer kidnap case, but is not political and has no time constraints that would prevent her from being a juror.
- A woman who said she doesn’t really watch the news and isn’t political, either.
- A woman with four children who said she remembered when the alleged kidnap plot case first happened, but that she hasn’t followed any of it. Politically, she said she is in the middle of the road, saying “The truth lies pretty close to the middle.” She said she disagreed with some government decisions that were made during the pandemic, but noted that she wouldn’t have wanted to be in the position of having to make those decisions, either.
- A woman who works as a project manager at a printing company. “I think I could decide this case. I saw it mentioned on the news but don’t know the particulars. … I remember hearing about it when it first happened,” she said.
- A grandmother of four who described herself as a “grannie-nanny” who takes care of her grandchildren while their parents are at work, saying: “I’m like their second mother.” She has a sewing business and watches the news, noting her husband is an avid news watcher and that the Whitmer kidnap case is talking about in their home. She said she could put her husband “on mute” if she had to. They don’t own any guns, she said, “but I don’t have problems with guns at all.” She said she has political leanings, without elaborating, but can put them aside.
- A woman who works as a preschool teacher who said she heard a little bit about the case, but is not a big news person or a big follower of politics. She said she can be fair. She was asked if she’s familiar with memes — which were part of the trial as the defendants were accused of sending violent memes to one another. She said she is familiar with memes: “It’s a funny caption that makes people laugh.”
- A woman from Up North whose husband owns a couple of guns. ” I really don’t know anything about the case. I don’t have cable. My children have me on Spotify. I listen to music instead of the news.” She said she didn’t know anything about the Whitmer case before heading to jury selection, and that a family member mentioned that there’s a case involving Whitmer. “I knew nothing about it. We live Up North.”
- A woman who works as a dispatcher and doesn’t listen to the news. “I don’t know much about this case at all,” she said, noting she heard some details about it when it first happened and “that’s it.” She said she can decide the case. “I don’t get into politics.”
- A woman who works as an adult foster care director and owns a gun. “I’m pretty indifferent, I don’t watch the news. I have no cable TV.” She said she can set aside her political views, noted that adult foster care workers were on the front lines during the pandemic and said she doesn’t think the governor “takes into account all the time.”
- A woman who said she heard about militias growing up, noting she grew up during the Waco, Texas, case, but that she didn’t know much about them.
The jurors were picked from a pool of more than 200 individuals from western and northern Michigan. They were asked about views on multiple issues, including gun rights, militias, law enforcement, face masks, COVID-19 restrictions, even emojis — which the defendants were fond of, according to a trial testimony. Those with strong political views were dismissed.
Contact Tresa Baldas: firstname.lastname@example.org