Gretchen Whitmer kidnapping trial: Female juror booted out for 'flirting' with suspect Paul Bellar
JACKSON, MICHIGAN: Prosecutors raised concerns over a female juror who was seen making flirtatious remarks toward one of the three defendants, charged with plotting to kidnap Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer in 2020. The jury member was dismissed after being accused of smiling and maintaining eye contact with Paul Bellar.
On Friday, October 14, Judge Thomas Wilson removed the woman from the jury after attorneys spoke about the matter. Attorney William Rollstin announced that there had been non-verbal communication between the female juror and Bellar. "The communication has been in the form of eye contact [and] smiling at each other," he said, according to The Independent. Judge Wilson vouched for having noticed such interactions as well during testimony. The woman was also claimed to have given the defendant a knowing smirk during the trial.
A juror in Paul Bellar's trial was dismissed after being accused for flirting with Bellar.— Rylie Oswald (@rylieoswald) October 17, 2022
In 2020, Bellar was one of the three men who attempted to kidnap Michigan governor, Gretchen Whitmer.https://t.co/8UgDyxfzoi
The attorneys admitted their study of the event just two days before Judge Wilson's official announcement of her dismissal. "It didn’t just happen on one day — it happened over multiple days. I decided it’s safer to err on the side of caution," said one of the judges. Judge Wilson also stated that he was never familiar with such behavior in nearly 35 years of him in this profession. The female juror is reportedly young while Bellar, 21, is the youngest among the other defendants.
Rollstin further stated that he had noticed Bellar clench his fists and "shake them" in a positive way in a response to the woman. Andrew Kirkpatrick came to Bellar's defense and claimed that the whole matter was misinterpreted as Bellar only shook his fists in excitement after the lawyer offered him a packet of Skittles candy on his birthday. "There was no verbal communication between the two, and the descriptions of the communication are speculative," said Kareem Johnson, who represents Pete Musico.
Bellar, Joseph Morrison, and Musico are accused of three crimes and have not pleaded guilty while blaming an FBI informant who entrapped them. According to Brian Russell, a detective of the Michigan Department of State Police, "The accused provided plans for tactical maneuvers at training, coded language for covert communication, hosted meetings at his residence, provided ammunition, and coordinated logistics for training."
The abduction plan was hatched when Whitmer imposed Covid-19 restrictions in 2020. The defendants formed an alliance with like-mided people to kidnap the Democratic governor and later encourage a national revolt before the 2020 presidential elections by hanging her. Two other convicts, Adam Fox, and Barry Croft Jr were detained in August for planning to grab the governor during her vacation.