(Ken Silva, Headline USA) During Tuesday’s opening statements at the trial of three men accused of aiding the 2020 alleged militia plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, defense attorney Bill Barnett made accurate statements about an FBI informant involved in the case—describing how the informant, Dan Chappel, became the second in command of a militia, trained his fellow members and encouraged them to commit crimes.
State prosecutor Bill Rollstin objected to Barnett’s factual statements, accusing him of trying to “poison the jury” by arguing that the FBI entrapped his client.
Barnett responded to Rollstin’s claim by arguing that he’s only presenting true facts to the jury.
“I was stating facts that are in the police reports. Everything’s a fact. They don’t want to hear facts in this case,” he said.
Barnett further said that he’s not even arguing that his client, Eric Molitor, was entrapped. Barnett said Molitor didn’t have anything to do with the kidnapping conspiracy and is innocent of any wrongdoing.
“I never once said, ‘entrapment,’” the lawyer said. “I’m sorry I had to tell the whole story that’s not being told here [about FBI informants provoking the plot].”
However, Judge Charles Hamlyn agreed with the prosecution. The judge claimed that by noting that an FBI informant was second in command of a militia supposedly plotting to kidnap Whitmer, Barnett was essentially making an entrapment defense.
“There were a couple times you said the FBI did the training, the FBI was the XO [executive officer], [confidential human source] Dan was the one to organize these guys and did that,” the judge said.
“If you didn’t cross the line, you were right on it,” he added.
“When you said CHS Dan is the one who did the training, that is describing the FBI as entrapping your client.”
The judge’s ruling sparked outrage from those watching the trial, including from the sister of Adam Fox, one of the men who was found guilty last year of plotting against Whitmer.
Excuse my language but WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK? Saying Dan LED the training is FACT. If the government didn’t want FACTS entered in, they should have told their guy to not lead anything. This judge is absolutely insane. https://t.co/6VES3oJxU0
— gabrielle nichole (@gabbyynicholee) August 23, 2023
However, the judge’s decision is par for the course in a case that has been heavily slanted towards the prosecution in multiple trials.
For instance, at his federal trials last year, Fox was prohibited from introducing as evidence thousands of text messages between FBI informants and their handling agents. Those texts show, among other things, that FBI agents encouraged their informants to kidnap Whitmer.
And in this state trial, the prosecution has repeatedly spread misinformation. Michigan’s Attorney General’s Office has sent press releases calling the defendants in this case—Molitor and twin brothers William and Michael Null—members of the Wolverine Watchmen, when they were never members of that group.
Prosecutor Rollstin also repeated a debunked claim in April that Barry Croft—who was found guilty last year—of issuing a $1,000 bounty against an FBI informant who betrayed him. As Headline USA has explained, Rollstin’s accusation was already debunked in federal court in February 2022.
Even a judge in the current case spread misinformation in February, when a court order was issued that accused Brandon Caserta and Daniel Harris of participating in the plot—even though Caserta and Harris were found not guilty last year.
That judge, Kevin Elsenheimer, was replaced by Judge Hamlyn as the one presiding over the current trial. Based on Hamlyn’s pro-prosecution decisions on Tuesday, it appears as if Hamlyn is little better than his counterpart.
Ken Silva is a staff writer at Headline USA. Follow him at twitter.com/jd_cashless.