Plotting War or Recreation? Hutaree Militia Trial Ends First Day
A Lenawee County militia group was planning to declare war on the United States, a prosecutor told a federal court jury in Detroit this morning.
“These individuals, led by David Stone Sr., wanted an armed confrontation with law enforcement and the federal government,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Graveline told a 16-member jury that will decide the fate of seven members of the Hutaree militia group. “They wanted to start the war… patriots rising up against the government.”
But defense lawyers said the prosecution’s case against Stone, the alleged ringleader of the Christian militia group, is a fantasy created by undercover FBI agents and paid confidential informants.
“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,” Stone, lawyer, William Swor of Detroit, told jurors. “The United States government has never been the enemy of David Stone or his family… These are ordinary people living ordinary lives. Doing this stuff was merely their form of recreation.”
Deputy Federal Defender Todd Shanker, who represents Stone’s son, David Stone Jr., told jurors that the Hutaree members “are not dark-hearted individuals.” He urged jurors to find his client not guilty.
“They are going to fail and they are going to fail miserably,” Shanker added,
The trial got under way today after prosecutors and criminal defense lawyers spent an hour selecting 16 jurors from a pool of 48 prospective jurors to hear the case, which is expected to take six to eight weeks. The jurors, 12 regular jurors and four alternates, consist of nine women and seven men.
An indictment unsealed in March 2010 accused nine members of the group of plotting to kill an unidentified member of local law enforcement officer in April 2010 and attack the officers who gathered for the funeral with weapons of mass destruction - improvised bombs