A federal jury acquitted two men Friday of charges they plotted to kidnap the Democratic governor of Michigan and failed to reach a verdict against two other defendants.
The four were among 14 alleged right-wing militants arrested in October 2020 following a sting operation by the FBI.
They were accused of targeting Governor Gretchen Whitmer because of the tough Covid-19 pandemic restrictions she imposed on the northern US state.
Daniel Harris and Brandon Caserta were found not guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping after a nearly one-month trial.
US District Judge Robert Jonker declared a mistrial in the cases of the other two men — Adam Fox and Barry Croft — because the 12-member jury was deadlocked after five days of deliberations.
Two defendants pleaded guilty already and eight others will be tried in state court.
According to prosecutors, the accused were members of the Boogaloo movement, a loosely-shaped ideology formed around gun culture and the belief of a looming civil war.
According to the indictment, they considered the governor a “tyrant” and planned to kidnap her and put her on “trial.”
The arrests came amid growing concerns over armed right-wing extremist groups, which the FBI has said constitute the greatest domestic terror threat to the country.
They took place amid heightened tensions ahead of the November 2020 presidential election between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Joe Biden, which spilled over into violence on January 6, 2021 with the attack on the Capitol by Trump supporters.
Members of right-wing extremist groups such as the Oath Keepers and Proud Boys have been charged in connection with the storming of the Capitol.
The defendants allegedly conducted surveillance outside Whitmer’s vacation home and took pictures of a nearby bridge they planned to blow up as a diversion while they seized the governor.
Their defense lawyers accused federal agents of entrapment by infiltrating their group with informants and hatching the kidnapping plot.
Christopher Gibbons, a lawyer for Fox, said “there was a lot of talk but there was no conspiracy to kidnap the governor of Michigan.”
“There was no plan,” Gibbons said.
One of the two men who pleaded guilty was sentenced to six years in prison.