A Michigan judge kicked a female juror out of trial for allegedly flirting with one of the men charged in a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. A prosecutor has said that the woman was seen smiling and exchanging eye contact with defendant Paul Bellar.
Judge Thomas Wilson had said he noticed the interactions. He said he had never seen anything like this in his 35 years of practicing law, according to the Jackson Citizen Patriot.
“It didn’t just happen on one day,” he reportedly said. “It happened over multiple days. I decided its safer to err on the side of caution.”
Prosecutor William Rollstin brought up concerns on Wednesday. He described Bellar’s and the jurors interactions as “non-verbal communication.”
Wilson reportedly said on Friday that the juror took his decision well.
Bellar, and his co-defendants Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico face charges including providing material support for a terrorist act. They stand accused of letting the Wolverine Watchmen paramilitary group use their properties to train for an attack on Whitmer’s vacation home. The plotters were motivated by animus toward restrictions Whitmer implemented to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. In evaluating charges, Jackson County Judge Michael Klaeren determined this was more than plotters spouting off threats. The defense has maintained that investigators entrapped Bellar, Morrison, and Musico.
Musico attorney Kareem Johnson pushed back on the juror flirting allegations.
“There was no verbal communication between the two, and the descriptions of the communication are speculative,” he said, according to the Patriot.
“To suggest that simply because a young woman, who’s been tasked with the duty of evaluating somebody’s guilt of innocence, is looking over here, it must be some sort of flirtation or romantic involvement, is just sexist,” Johnson reportedly said. “She is supposed to look over here, judge the evidence and judge these people. She’s doing exactly what’s she’s supposed to be doing.”
[Screenshot via WLTX]
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