A flirt? Juror concerns related to the Whitmer conspiracy

(AP) – Prosecutors on Wednesday raised concerns about a juror who appeared to have smiled at one of three men in court in connection with one plan to kidnap Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020.

Judge Thomas Wilson said he too noticed it and promised to give the jury “close attention”. He said the expressions did not appear to be a reaction to the testimony.

“She’s in my direct view,” Wilson said. “That’s why I often look directly at them while listening to the testimonies. … I saw a smile on her face. Not a big smile, more like a little grin.”

The jury looked at Paul Bellar, 24, who was a member of a paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen. Bellar, Joe Morrison and Pete Musico are charged in state court in Jackson, Michigan material support for an act of terrorism.

They are accused of joining Adam Fox and others convicted in federal court of conspiring to kidnap Whitmer. Bellar, Morrison and Musico are not accused of playing a direct role in the conspiracy but were among 14 people arrested in 2020.

The trial has taken eight days so far, including six days of testimony by an FBI agent.

“Since the beginning of the trial — and we are willing to present affidavits from two different witnesses — there has been non-verbal communication between a jury and Bellar,” Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin said.

He suggested that Bellar sent a signal on Wednesday by clenching his fists and shaking them “affirmatively.”

But Bellar’s attorney, Andrew Kirkpatrick, said that was a misinterpretation: Bellar was upset because the attorney got him Skittles candy for his birthday.

“Maybe she likes him. Maybe she doesn’t like him,” Kirkpatrick said of the jury. “There’s no way to tell what’s going on in a jury member’s mind and what exactly she’s doing or thinking.”

Musico’s attorney Kareem Johnson said claims of flirtatious behavior were “just plain sexist”.

“This is a jury agreed on by both sides,” he said. “It is to judge the witnesses and judge the accused. She needs to look over here.”


White reported from Detroit.

https://www.woodtv.com/news/michigan/a-flirt-concerns-about-juror-in-case-tied-to-whitmer-plot/ A flirt? Juror concerns related to the Whitmer conspiracy

Dais Johnston

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