Trial
3:14 pm
Tue March 27, 2012

Key charges dismissed against Michigan militia members in federal court

Update 3:14 p.m.

A year ago, the seven militia members standing trial were indicted by a federal grand jury "on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence."

The Detroit Free Press reports all charges were dropped against 5 of the defendants, but weapons charges remain for two of them.

Among those cleared of any wrongdoing is Tina Stone, Stone Sr.’s wife, whose lawyer argued all along that the government had no case.

“We’re just grateful to Judge Roberts for having the courage to do the right thing ... very few judges have that kind of courage,” said attorney Michael Rataj, who is representing Tina Stone.

“There was no case. There was no conspiracy,” Rataj argued, further claiming the case was the result of overzealous federal agents.

In the opening statements of the trial, defense attorney William Swor said to the jury, "You will have to decide whether this is a real conspiracy or David Stone exercising his God-given right to blow off steam and open his mouth."

With the judges decision today, the jury won't have to decide.

2:05 p.m.

The Associated Press is reporting a judge has dismissed key charges against members of a Michigan militia who were accused of plotting attacks against the government.

Seven members of the Hutaree militia have been standing trial in a federal court in Detroit.

From the Associated Press:

The Tuesday decision is an embarrassment for the government, which secretly planted an informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree militia and claimed members were armed for war in rural
southern Michigan.

Detroit federal Judge Victoria Roberts made her decision five days after prosecutors rested their case. Her decision affects all seven militia members who've been on trial since Feb. 13. Only weapons charges remain against two of the defendants.

Prosecutors say Hutaree members were anti-government rebels who combined training and strategy sessions to prepare for a violent strike against federal law enforcement. Defense lawyers said offensive talk was wrongly turned into a high-profile criminal case.

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