Columbia County man denied habeas corpus in Whitmer kidnapping case

    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives her DNC address, Aug. 17, 2020 | Julia Picket photo
    Gov. Gretchen Whitmer gives her DNC address, Aug. 17, 2020 | Julia Picket photo

    A Columbia County judge denied Columbia County resident Brian Higgins habeas corpus as he faces extradition to Michigan for his involvement in a plot to kidnap Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

    Higgins, 52, is charged with one felony count of providing material support to a terrorist act in Michigan. He is accused of providing night-vision goggles and using a dashboard camera to conduct surveillance on Whitmer’s vacation home. 

    Higgins and several other men had plotted to kidnap and execute the governor in retaliation for measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, according to the FBI. The group of 14 men also conducted some “training” in Cambria this summer and planned to bring Whitmer to Wisconsin to hold a sham trial for her supposed crimes. 

    In court on Tuesday, a Columbia County judge denied Higgins’ petition for habeas corpus, a request that his detainment be found unlawful. Higgins’ attorney, Christopher Van Wagner, argued that the extradition request from Michigan was invalid because it was signed by Whitmer, the victim in the case. 

    Columbia County District Attorney Brenda Yaskal countered, saying the criminal complaint and the extradition request weren’t written by Whitmer. 

    Judge Todd Hepler denied habeas corpus saying issues of a conflict of interest should be left for a Michigan court to decide. 

    If convicted, Higgins faces a sentence of up to 20 years in prison and $20,000 in fines. He remains in Columbia County Jail.

    Henry Redman
    Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.