I Wanted The Police To Kill Me – CBS Detroit

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(AP) – A man who pleaded guilty in a plot to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer testified Thursday that he joined the conspiracy in the hopes of being killed in a shootout with police.

LANSING, MI – OCTOBER 17: The Boogaloo Boys hold a rally at the Capitol on October 17, 2020 in Lansing, Michigan. The Boogaloo boys called it a Unity Rally in an effort to distance themselves from the Wolverine Watchmen who were plotting to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer. Two of the men arrested in the plot were affiliated with the Boogaloo Boys. (Photo by Seth Herald/Getty Images)

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“I didn’t want to live any longer,” Kaleb Franks told the jurors minutes after he took the witness seat in federal court in Grand Rapids, Michigan. “Much of my family had passed away. I was having a hard time financially. Just wasn’t happy.”

Franks, 27, thought it was very risky to kidnap someone as prominent as Whitmer: “In my opinion, you would definitely die.”

Franks and another man, Ty Garbin, pleaded guilty to the plan and testify against four former allies on trial for conspiracy: Adam Fox, Barry Croft Jr., Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta.

Garbin, 26, told jurors on Wednesday that Whitmer’s kidnapping could have been the “ignite” for a US civil war involving anti-government groups, possibly ahead of the 2020 election.

“We wanted to cause as much disruption as possible to prevent Joe Biden from coming to power. It didn’t have to be,” Garbin said of a pre-election blitz. “It was just preferable.”

Defense attorneys are trying to show the jury that there was no credible plot, just a lot of profane, violent talk directed at Whitmer and other politicians about the alleged loss of rights by the men during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The group was arrested in October 2020, a stunning bust towards the end of a national campaign that polarized the country. Investigators said the men were extremists trying to come up with $4,000 for an explosive device to blow up a bridge in northern Michigan during the kidnapping.

The trial has linked the kidnapping plan, at times indirectly, to a series of events, most notably right-wing protests at the Michigan Capitol and elsewhere in response to pandemic orders. Challenges to the results of the 2020 presidential election followed, culminating in the US Capitol riot on January 6.

During the defense hearing, Garbin said there was discussion about taking Whitmer by boat to Lake Michigan after she kidnapped her from her vacation home, dropped the motor, and left her there.

But he also acknowledged that the group hadn’t set up a boat, and he wasn’t sure how they would get back to the shore in northern Michigan.

“The purpose of this was to cause a huge inconvenience, right? Because she would just be picked up on the lake,” attorney Joshua Blanchard said, referring to a Whitmer rescue.

“At some point, yes,” Garbin replied.

The day before, Garbin explained Whitmer’s plan to the judges, taking them through summer 2020 training days, secret messages and an overnight trip to her weekend home. He told how he built a ‘shooting house’ with wood, tarpaulin and waste material so that the men could practice a possible attack.

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The goal was “to kidnap the governor,” Garbin said.

“There was no doubt in your mind that everyone knew?” asked assistant attorney Nils Kessler.

“No question,” Garbin said.

Defense lawyers claim the men were ambushed by the government. However, Garbin told the jurors that he had never heard anyone talk about being influenced by informants.

He said he invited the group to his property in Luther, Michigan, to train for a violent attack on Whitmer’s second home. He put together a rough structure so the men could practice going in and out of tight spaces.

“I was kind of ballparking,” Garbin said of the layout. “Every house had a front door. Every house had a living room.”

In September 2020, Garbin, Fox, Croft and others traveled to Elk Rapids for nighttime surveillance of Whitmer’s property. Garbin said his job was to find it and shine a light on others at a boat launch.

He said his ultimate assignment would be to “carry out the actual kidnapping.”

Garbin said Fox and Croft were the leaders of the Cabal. Fox attorney Christopher Gibbons wondered how Garbin could have been inspired by a man who lived in the basement of a vacuum store in the Grand Rapids neighborhood, whose living quarters were separated by hanging blankets.

Garbin acknowledged that he called Fox “Captain Autism” and that his marksmanship was “not top-notch.”

The aircraft mechanic began collaborating with prosecutors shortly after the group was arrested. Garbin was awarded a relatively light six-year prison term, which could be reduced after the trial.

Whitmer, a Democrat, rarely talks about the matter publicly, although during her tenure she referred to “surprises” that seem “something out of fiction” when she ran for reelection on March 17.

She has blamed former President Donald Trump for fueling anger over coronavirus restrictions and rejecting right-wing extremists like those charged in the case. Whitmer has said Trump was complicit in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.

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