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Hutaree Militia Gets Off

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts has thrown out the seditious conspiracy charge against all nine members of the Hutaree Christian militia in Michigan, leaving only weapons charges for two of the defendants and eliminating the charges against the others. You can read the full ruling here.

The defendants were arrested two years ago for allegedly plotting to kill a police officer and then blow up the funeral procession for the officer, with the goal being to spark a broader war between the militia movement and the government. But Judge Roberts was highly doubtful of the strength of the case against them from the very start. The Detroit Free Press reports:

In a sharp rebuke, a federal judge today acquitted seven members of a Lenawee County militia group of plotting to overthrow the U.S. government with weapons of mass destruction.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said federal prosecutors failed in five weeks of trial to prove that the Hutaree had a specific plan to kill a police officer and attack law enforcement personnel.

While the testimony showed that Hutaree leader David Stone Sr. “may have wanted to engage in a war with the federal government … it is totally devoid of any agreement to do so between Stone and the other defendants,” Roberts said in a 28-page decision.

“This plan is utterly short on specifics,” Robert said, adding that, “it is a stretch to infer that other members of the Hutaree knew of this plan, and agreed to further it.” …

The decision leaves federal prosecutors with what legal experts described as a “run of the mill” illegal firearms case against Stone, 47, of Clayton, and his son, Joshua Stone, 24, of Clayton. Stone Sr. and Joshua Stone are charged with possession of a machine gun and possession of an unregistered firearm. The charges carry maximum penalties of 10 years in prison.

Roberts’ decision resulted in total acquittals for five other defendants: David Stone Jr., 22, of Adrian; Tina Stone, 46, the wife of David Stone Sr.; Michael Meeks, 42, of Manchester; Thomas Piatek, 48, of Whiting, and Christopher Sickles, 29, of Sandusky, Ohio.

Roberts acquitted all of the defendants of the most serious charges: seditious conspiracy, which carried a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Because prosecutors failed to prove their case on those charges, Roberts said she also was required to acquit the defendants on five other counts: demonstrating the use of explosives and carrying and possessing a firearm in relation to a crime of violence, which carry a maximum penalty of five years in prison.

The last two defendants struck a deal with prosecutors on the weapons charges. David Stone faces up to 41 months in prison when sentenced, and his son Joshua faces up to 33 months.

When all of this went down two years ago, I was on the Rachel Maddow show discussing the arrests. I pointed out then that the Hutaree were actually turned in to the FBI by another local militia. The leader of that militia — who is Muslim, believe it or not — even tried to help the FBI catch them by setting up a meeting with the Hutaree leaders.

Comments

  1. jjgdenisrobert says

    Thus creating a HUGE precedent for any and all terrorist organizations… You can now only prosecute, at least in open court, if the terrorists have actually put their plan in motion. This is in direct contradiction to all the actions taken by the FBI and the DOJ with regards to Islamic terrorists. Not necessarily a bad thing, in and of itself, but the devil is in the details here: what criteria are used to determine that a plan would be sufficiently advanced to warrant prosecution?

    Depending on the details, this may be a good thing, or it may be a bad thing. And it may have unforeseen consequences, like the DOJ deciding to use the same tactics against Christian militia that they use against Muslim ones: just don’t let them reach the courts, and “detain” them “indefinitely” in secret jails.

  2. sivivolk says

    I wish this level of judicial stringency had been applied to some recent “terrorism” cases that involved non-white people in the US.

  3. says

    Now there’s an activist judge that the reiKKKwing can like!

    The FBI manages to step on its own dick way too often to be allowed to investigate without a chaperone.

  4. Azkyroth, Former Growing Toaster Oven says

    You can now only prosecute, at least in open court, if the terrorists have actually put their plan in motion. This is in direct contradiction to all the actions taken by the FBI and the DOJ with regards to Islamic terrorists. Not necessarily a bad thing, in and of itself, but the devil is in the details here: what criteria are used to determine that a plan would be sufficiently advanced to warrant prosecution?

    National origin. Skin color. How their names sound.

    Duh?

  5. Eric R says

    Thus creating a HUGE precedent for any and all terrorist organizations… You can now only prosecute, at least in open court, if the terrorists have actually put their plan in motion…

    I dont think thats the result of this decision, the decision seems to indicate that prosecutors failed to prove the conspiracy. Yes, had the Hutaree put it in motion it would have been easier to prove, but I dont think that precludes the possibility of proving it prior to acting on it.

    all I read into this is prosecutors failing to get enough evidence to prove their case, not that terrorists can only be prosecuted after they execute their plots.

  6. valhar2000 says

    You can now only prosecute, at least in open court, if the terrorists have actually put their plan in motion.

    I would say that this is the simplest and most common form of simple commons sense.

  7. DLC says

    The standard here is “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.”
    Apparently Judge Roberts had reasonable doubt.
    The standard is not “people I disagree with or find repugnant to the freedoms ensconced in the Constitution of The United States.”
    Well, there’s still the state level charges of conspiring to murder a law officer. And the two top dogs still get time for the federal weapons charges. Perhaps not the outcome everyone wanted, but that’s how the system works. haltingly, by small steps, veering off course frequently and sometimes allowing the guilty to go free and sometimes imprisoning the innocent. But for all that, it’s better than the alternatives.

  8. says

    But for all that, it’s better than the alternatives.

    Except for those systems in other countries that don’t end up criminalizing and imprisoning anywhere near as many of its citizens, of course…

  9. says

    “Except for those systems in other countries that don’t end up criminalizing and imprisoning anywhere near as many of its citizens, of course…”

    Goldurned perfectionist! {;>)

  10. StevoR says

    @3.democommie :

    .. The FBI manages to step on its own dick way too often to be allowed to investigate without a chaperone.

    So you’re saying .. what .. That the FBI has a *really* long dick then?

    Not sure that’s quite what you meant to convey!

  11. StevoR says

    Of course I also sniggeried at thetitle here.

    But getting serious now, this is bad news and a bad precedent. :-(

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