DETROIT — The nine members of the radical militia group Hutaree gathered materials to make bombs, stockpiled and used firearms, made a hit list of influential officials, and conducted war-like training exercises as part of their plan for a massive attack on authorities, a federal prosecutor said in court yesterday.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet also said that David Brian Stone, Sr., 44, the leader of the Lenawee County-based group, wanted to control Lenawee, Hills dale, and Washtenaw counties by driving out police from southeast Michigan.
“It's not about a religious group. It's not about the militia. It's about a group who decided to oppose by force the U.S. by using violence and weapons,” Mr. Waterstreet said.
The arguments were made at the detention hearing in U.S. District Court for Mr. Stone and seven others who were indicted on charges of plotting to kill a police officer and then bomb the officer's funeral to kill even more law enforcement.
Mr. Stone; his wife, Tina Mae Stone, 44; his adopted son, David Brian Stone, Jr., 19; his other son Joshua Stone, 21; Joshua John Clough, 28, of Blissfield, Mich.; Michael David Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Mich.; Kristopher T. Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, and Jacob J. Ward, 33 of Huron, Ohio, pleaded not guilty.
Donna Stone, right, David Brian Stone's ex-wife, leaves the Federal Courthouse in Detroit. Yesterday's detention hearing included Mr. Stone and seven others.
Paul Sancya / AP Enlarge
Thomas William Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind., appeared yesterday in federal court in Hammond, Ind., where he was ordered held without bond. He will be ar-raigned later in Detroit.
They are all charged with seditious conspiracy, attempting to use weapons of mass destruction, and two counts of possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.
If convicted, they could spend the rest of their lives in prison.
In a hearing that went on for nearly four hours, Mr. Waterstreet told Magistrate Donald Scheer that the defendants should remain behind bars because they pose a danger to the community and are a flight risk.
Mr. Waterstreet said that Mr. Clough acted as the group's information officer and explosives expert and had shown the FBI agent who infiltrated the organization a list of important judges, teachers, elected officials, and local business leaders whom the Hutaree wanted killed.
The prosecutor said the hit list that the former security guard prepared was shown to the undercover agent at the Dec. 12 wedding of David and Tina Stone.
A courtroom drawing shows David Brian Stone, Sr., left, of Clayton, Mich., appearing in U.S. District Court in Detroit with his lawyer, Bill Swor.
Carole Kabrin / AP Enlarge
He said that in discussions about the government Mr. Meeks wanted the entire judicial system eliminated and everyone involved killed.
Authorities said that David Stone was the leader of the militia group and his son, Joshua, was second in command, with each in charge of a squad of fighters.
Mr. Waterstreet said searches of the Stones' mobile home near Clayton, Mich., and other defendants produced an arsenal of weapons, ammunition, and materials that could be used to make bombs and create shrapnel.
The agent was sent to join the self-proclaimed “Christian” militia group after Hutaree members made threatening statements on Web sites in December, 2008, relating to a federal investigation of a local gun dealer.
The agent led the group to believe he was an expert in gathering materiel and building pipe bombs and other explosive devices
Mr. Waterstreet said David Stone asked the agent to make deadly devices that could harm several people at once and shoot off projectiles to penetrate armor and vehicles.
The federal prosecutor said Hutaree members were preparing for a live training session in which David Stone instructed his followers to kill anyone they came across who didn't submit to their demands, and told members to wipe fingerprints from bullet casings to hide their identities.
Around the time the plans were formulated, Mr. Sickles allegedly told another militia member that he had shot his cat to prepare himself for future attacks.
Mr. Waterstreet quoted Mr. Sickles as saying: “I did it to see if I could do it, to see if I could kill something I had a feeling for.”
Among the tactics discussed by Hutaree members, Mr. Waterstreet said, was intimidating police officers by attacking their homes and killing their spouses and children as they fled. Another tactic was to make false 911 calls and then attack authorities when they responded, the U.S. attorney said.
Mr. Waterstreet said the Hutaree believed they were waging battle against an elitist group that commanded all law enforcement and wanted to rule the world.
The federal prosecutor played to the court a secretly recorded speech by David Stone that he had planned to give to a summit of various militias that had gathered in Kentucky.
“This war will come whether we are ready or not,” David Stone said. “Now it is time to strike and take our nation back.”
Attorneys for the defendants objected to the assistant U.S. attorney's statements and argued they should be able to question the government's key witness.
“My concern is everything we heard has been a summary as refined through the lens of the government's opinion,” said Bill Swor, attorney for David Stone.
The attorney described Mr. Stone as someone who is “very angry” and “talks a lot,” but had not committed any violent offenses. He argued that the explosive devices were supplied by the agent, not by Hutaree members.
The hearing on whether to detain the defendants was to continue today.
Attorneys who spoke to the court challenged the government's position that their clients were dangerous and would flee if released on bond.
Contact Claudia Boyd-Barrett at: firstname.lastname@example.org,or 419-724-6272.