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Published: Wednesday, 5/19/2010

3 Hutaree militia members released on electronic tether

BLADE STAFF

DETROIT - Three of nine members of the Lenawee County-based militia charged with attempting to overthrow the government were released yesterday from Detroit-area jails.

David Stone, Jr., 19, of Adrian, Tina Stone, 44, of Clayton, Mich., and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio, were allowed to return home on electronic tethers after federal prosecutors dropped opposition to bond conditions imposed by U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts.

Mr. Stone's defense attorney, Todd Shanker, said his client was looking forward to being reunited with his fiancee and their 7-month-old son and returning to work on an area farm.

"He is really excited," Mr. Shanker said. "We are very happy that he is out of jail and will be back with his family."

The trio were held in jails without bond since late March when they and other members of the Hutaree militia were arrested by FBI agents on charges of plotting the violent overthrow of the U.S. government and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.

After detention hearings in district court, Judge Roberts had allowed for all of the defendants to be released on bond under electronic monitoring and other restrictions.

But a three-judge panel on the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati issued a stay May 6, then extended it four days later until another three-judge panel could hear a full appeal.

Defense lawyers appealed the appellate court decision and over the weekend asked U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens to intervene.

Mr. Shanker said U.S. Attorneys didn't provide an explanation for their turnaround on the bond issue.

"They didn't give us a reason. Last week they approached us and were willing to agree to my client's release," he said.

The agreement made between defense attorneys and prosecutors echoes the bond restrictions originally ordered by Judge Roberts, including the electronic tethering and assigning relatives to defendants to serve as third-party custodians.

"This is basically what Judge Roberts asked for," Mr. Shanker said.

Defense Attorney Michael Rataj, who represents Mrs. Stone, agreed with Mr. Shanker in that the bond conditions were similar to Judge Roberts' order.

Gina Balaya, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorneys' Office, said the agreement to release the defendants came after discussions with their attorneys.

"The government believes that the conditions of release which were stipulated in the court order would ensure the safety of the community," she said.

Mr. Stone's custodial relative is his mother, Donna Popejoy. She and her husband agreed to surrender all weapons and must not obtain additional weapons while he lives with them.

Mrs. Stone, who is married to David Stone, Sr., the suspected leader of the Hutaree group, must reside with her parents, Timothy and Henrietta Kelley, in Hillsdale County.

Mr. Ward was ordered to live with his mother, Nadine Bober.

The defendants cannot leave the homes of relatives except for medical reasons, or to attend religious services, court appearances, attorney appointments, work, or to seek employment.

They also cannot apply for weapon permits and passports, drink alcohol, use controlled substances and police scanners, and possess or be near firearms, ammunition, explosives, destructive devices, or other dangerous weapons.

They must report weekly to the court's pretrial services and comply with orders to provide phone records and submit to random visits by pretrial services.

The released defendants can only contact each other, witnesses, Hutaree or other militia members in the presence of their attorneys.

"They are pretty much on house incarceration. He can only go to work or go to find a job," said attorney Christopher Seikaly, who represents Mr. Ward.

Also charged along with alleged leader Mr. Stone, Sr., are his son Joshua Matthew Stone, 21, of Clayton, Mich.; Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield; Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester, Mich.; Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.; and Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky.

They remain in Detroit-area jails pending a review by the appellate court of Judge Roberts' order to release them.

- MARK REITER



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