Plea hearing today in Whitmer kidnap-plot case

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Mar. 15—BELLAIRE — Brian Higgins, one of five men charged in Antrim County with participating in a plot to kidnap Michigan's governor, was scheduled to appear at a plea hearing this morning, court records show.

Higgins, 54, is one of five men previously arraigned in 13th Circuit Court; he faces a single count of providing material support or resources for an act of terrorism and had pleaded not guilty.

Information from law enforcement referred to in court shows Higgins was accused of participating in a nighttime surveillance of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer's summer home on Birch Lake near Elk Rapids.

During a Dec. 7 bindover hearing in 86th District Court in Traverse City, Judge Michael Stepka said Higgins was among those who attended a September 2020 firearms training in Luther on property owned by Ty Garbin.

Garbin was convicted last year in federal court of participating in the kidnap plot and had his sentence reduced after testifying in court against some of the other men accused.

No plea agreement related to Higgins' case was available. And there is no indication whether he would be required to testify against other defendants.

During the bindover hearing, Stepka said Higgins drove his own car on the nighttime surveillance of Whitmer's summer home and offered his dashcam to record video of the group's activity.

"So he contributed his vehicle to this conspiracy," Stepka said, shortly before binding the case against Higgins and four other men over to circuit court for trial.

Higgins is a resident of Wisconsin. Also charged in the Antrim County case are: Shawn Fix, Eric Molitor and twin brothers Michael Null and William Null, all of Michigan.

They each face charges of providing material support or resources for an act of terrorism and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

All five defendants were scheduled to go on trial together beginning Aug. 21, after a judge ruled in favor of a joinder motion filed by attorneys with the Michigan Attorney General's office.

Higgins is represented by Traverse City attorney Michael Naughton of North Coast Legal. Naughton did not return a call for comment Tuesday.

The court's register of actions shows the plea hearing is scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. today with Judge Charles Hamlyn presiding.