BELLAIRE — One of the men facing state charges associated with the plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer had his bond reduced Wednesday in Antrim County's 86th District Court.
Eric Molitor has his bond reduced from 10% of $250,000 to 10% of $100,000 during his bond hearing Wednesday. A majority of the information shared was filed through briefs by Molitor's attorney Bill Barnett and the Michigan Attorney General's Office.
Barnett was seeking the bond to be reduced to either 10% of $25,000 or a $2,500 cash bond. Antrim County's 86th District Court Judge Michael Stepka said Molitor posed a threat to society due to the nature of his charges, as well as for the weapons confiscated when during his arrest.
Stepka also noted Molitor had been in the Antrim County Jail since his arrest in October and being released from jail on the bond would help him prepare his defense. Although it likely was too high for Molitor to be released, Stepka said the bond could be revisited after a preliminary exam next month.
Barnett had no comment regarding the judge's decision or the case after the hearing Wednesday.
Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office announced on Oct. 8 the joint law enforcement effort that, after months of work, culminated on Oct. 7 in the execution of a series of search warrants and arrest warrants related to acts of terrorism under Michigan state law.
In total, 19 state felony charges were filed by Nessel against both Michael Null and William Null, Molitor, Shawn Fix, Paul Bellar of Milford, and Pete Musico and Joseph Morrison who live together in Munith. All seven are said to be known members of the militia group, Wolverine Watchmen, or associates of Wolverine Watchmen, according to the attorney general’s office.
On Oct. 15, Nessel charged the eighth individual for his connection with a plan of domestic terrorism that included storming the Michigan Capitol and harming government officials. Brian Higgins of Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, was arrested on Oct. 15 on a charge of material support of an act of terrorism. The Nulls, Molitor, and Fix also all face charges of material support of an act of terrorism and felony firearms.
In the court documents shared by Nessel’s office, it stated the terrorist act charge alleges Molitor did knowingly provide material support or resources to a terrorist or terrorist organization to be used in whole or in part, to plan, prepare, carry out, facilitate or avoid apprehension for committing an act of terrorism against the United States or its citizens, Michigan or its citizens or a political subdivision or any other instrumentality of this state or a local unit government.
The affidavit associated with the charges brought against Molitor state on Aug. 29, Molitor, among others, conducted surveillance of Whitmer’s vacation home. It is alleged Molitor used his cell phone to find the location and took photographs. He further discussed with others about conducting surveillance from water at a later date, according to the affidavit.
If convicted of the terrorist act, Molitor faces up to 20 years in prison and/or $20,000 in fines. The felony firearms offense, however, is punishable by up to two years in prison consecutive with and preceding any term imposed by additional convictions.
Through the efforts of more than 200 state and federal law enforcement officials — including experts from outside of Michigan — officers executed a series of search warrants and arrest warrants in more than a dozen cities around the state, including Belleville, Cadillac, Canton, Charlotte, Clarkston, Grand Rapids, Luther, Munith, Orion Township, Ovid, Portage, Shelby Township, and Waterford.
The Justice Department also has charged Adam Fox, Ty Garbin, Kaleb Franks, Daniel Harris, and Brandon Caserta of Michigan and Barry Croft of Delaware, with conspiring to kidnap Whitmer in federal courts.
The charges in question are only accusations. These men are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. The prosecution has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.