Informant’s Army past raised at trial tied to Whitmer plot

Oct 13, 2022, 3:16 AM | Updated: 3:21 pm
Paul Bellar, middle, appears before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson on Wednesday, ...

Paul Bellar, middle, appears before Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Thomas Wilson on Wednesday, Oct. 5, 2022 for trial in Jackson, Mich. Paul Bellar, Joseph Morrison and Pete Musico are charged in connection with a 2020 anti-government plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer. (J. Scott Park/Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP, Pool)

(J. Scott Park/Jackson Citizen Patriot via AP, Pool)

A defense lawyer lashed out Thursday at a star witness in a trial related to a plot to kidnap Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, accusing the Army veteran of “stolen valor” and questioning why he wasn’t given a Purple Heart if he was truly injured in Iraq.

The ruckus broke out in front of jurors and continued after they were excused. Defense attorneys and prosecutors raised their voices over each other. At one point, an FBI agent firmly told lawyer Leonard Ballard to “back up, please.”

“Judge, it’s literally hurting my ears. I just can’t listen to it anymore,” state Assistant Attorney General Sunita Doddamani pleaded.

The commotion occurred on the ninth day of trial in Jackson, Michigan, where three members of a paramilitary group, the Wolverine Watchmen, are charged with providing material support for a terrorist act.

Joe Morrison, Pete Musico and Paul Bellar are not accused of directly participating in the Whitmer kidnapping scheme. But state prosecutors said they provided training and support to key players who were subsequently convicted of conspiracy in federal court.

Just like in the federal case, a crucial witness against the three men is Dan Chappel. He agreed in 2020 to become an informant, embedding himself for months inside the Watchmen after reporting to the FBI that the group talked chillingly about attacking police.

In response to questions from prosecutors, Chappel, 36, explained that he was simply looking for a way to maintain his gun skills when he joined the group, years after serving with the Army in Iraq. He told jurors that he suffered back and head trauma overseas that sometimes affected his memory.

Ballard, who is Morrison’s lawyer, pounced during cross-examination, challenging Chappel over his lack of a Purple Heart, a medal typically given to people injured in combat.

“It’s relevant because they have put his combat, and his combat ability, and his combat wounds and everything into evidence,” Ballard said, referring to prosecutors. “They said this is who and what he is. It goes to his credibility.”

Ballard, a former Marine, said a Purple Heart for Chappel’s injuries should have been automatic under Army regulations. But Chappel said his injuries weren’t diagnosed by doctors until later.

“This witness can’t get away with misrepresenting his conduct, his service, his valor — which I would argue is stolen valor in this matter — to these 15 people,” Ballard said of the jury.

Assistant Attorney General Bill Rollstin fired back, accusing Ballard of “besmirching this man’s integrity.”

“What’s (Ballard’s) point: He does or doesn’t have a Purple Heart so now you shouldn’t believe his testimony?” Rollstin asked.

Judge Thomas Wilson said Chappel would get an opportunity Friday to more fully explain his injuries to the jury.

“Then I’ll allow you to ask him if he ever had the Purple Heart,” Wilson told Ballard.

___

White reported from Detroit.

___

Follow Ed White at http://twitter.com/edwritez

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Protesters hold up blank white papers during a commemoration for victims of a recent Urumqi deadly ...
Associated Press

Chinese university students sent home amid protests

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese universities are sending students home as the ruling Communist Party tightens anti-virus controls and tries to prevent more protests after crowds angered by its severe “zero COVID” restrictions called for President Xi Jinping to resign in the biggest show of public dissent in decades. With police out in force, there was […]
23 hours ago
South Carolina Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, looks over a map during a House redistricting commit...
Associated Press

S. Carolina’s US House maps under scrutiny because of race

TO MOVE AT 1 AM EST TUESDAY. EDITED by LJAW; BACKREAD by JSC. A trial to determine whether South Carolina’s congressional maps are legal closes Tuesday with arguments over whether the state Legislature diluted Black voting power by remaking the boundaries of the only U.S. House district Democrats have flipped in more than 30 years. […]
23 hours ago
FILE - This photo provided by the Missouri Department of Corrections shows Kevin Johnson.  A federa...
Associated Press

Missouri prepares to execute man for killing officer in 2005

FOR MOVEMENT TUESDAY AT 1 AM ET. EDITED BY CBLAKE. A Missouri inmate convicted of ambushing and killing a St. Louis area police officer he blamed in the death of his younger brother was scheduled to be executed Tuesday, though his lawyers are seeking to have the lethal injection halted. Kevin Johnson’s legal team doesn’t […]
23 hours ago
Lava pours out of the summit crater of Mauna Loa about 6:35 a.m. Monday, Nov. 28, 2022, as seen fro...
Associated Press

EXPLAINER: What hazards are posed by Hawaii’s Mauna Loa?

HONOLULU (AP) — Lava is shooting 100 feet to 200 feet (30 to 60 meters) into the air as Hawaii’s Mauna Loa, the world’s largest active volcano, erupts for the first time in nearly 40 years. For now, lava is not threatening any homes or communities and no evacuation orders have been issued. Lava could […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Monday’s Scores

BOYS PREP BASKETBALL= Elma 81, Aberdeen 40 Fife 58, Chief Leschi 53 Lake Stevens 72, Marysville-Pilchuck 52 North Thurston 72, Foster 39 Stanwood 52, Kamiak 51 Sumner 86, Hazen 38 Tahoma 77, Mount Tahoma 58 Todd Beamer 69, Puyallup 61 ___ Some high school basketball scores provided by Scorestream.com, https://scorestream.com/ Copyright © The Associated Press. […]
23 hours ago
Associated Press

Monday’s Scores

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL= Bellevue 71, Cedarcrest 51 Capital 53, Shelton 33 Enumclaw 63, Rogers (Puyallup) 42 Kamiak 79, Mount Vernon 30 La Conner 50, Squalicum 23 Lake Washington 71, Everett 30 Lakewood 59, Marysville-Pilchuck 22 Mariner 43, Marysville-Getchell 36 Monroe 71, Ingraham 29 Nooksack Valley 73, Archbishop Murphy 55 Sumner 64, Steilacoom 22 Todd Beamer […]
23 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

SHIBA WA...

Medicare open enrollment is here and SHIBA can help!

The SHIBA program – part of the Office of the Insurance Commissioner – is ready to help with your Medicare open enrollment decisions.
Lake Washington Windows...

Choosing Best Windows for Your Home

Lake Washington Windows and Doors is a local window dealer offering the exclusive Leak Armor installation.
Anacortes Christmas Tree...

Come one, come all! Food, Drink, and Coastal Christmas – Anacortes has it all!

Come celebrate Anacortes’ 11th annual Bier on the Pier! Bier on the Pier takes place on October 7th and 8th and features local ciders, food trucks and live music - not to mention the beautiful views of the Guemes Channel and backdrop of downtown Anacortes.
Swedish Cyberknife Treatment...

The revolutionary treatment of Swedish CyberKnife provides better quality of life for majority of patients

There are a wide variety of treatments options available for men with prostate cancer. One of the most technologically advanced treatment options in the Pacific Northwest is Stereotactic Body Radiation Therapy using the CyberKnife platform at Swedish Medical Center.
Work at Zum Services...

Seattle Public Schools announces three-year contract with Zum

Seattle Public Schools just announced a three-year contract with a brand-new company to the Pacific Northwest to assist with their student transportation: Zum.
Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
Informant’s Army past raised at trial tied to Whitmer plot