Detroit - A federal judge today ordered all the defendants accused of being members of a radical militia group held without bond while awaiting trial on charges that include conspiring against the government and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction."It is difficult to underestimate the dangers inherent in the crimes charged in this case," U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Scheer said.
Defense attorneys for members of the Michigan-based militia group, called the Hutaree, said they will appeal Scheer's ruling to U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts. That appeal is not expected to be heard before early next week.
A grand jury indictment unsealed Monday charged nine defendants with seditious conspiracy and attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. The government alleges members of the Hutaree planned to kill a police officer and use bombs to attack the scores of officers drawn to the funeral.
Large numbers of weapons were seized in a series of raids last weekend.
Prosecutors argue all the defendants are dangers to the community and flight risks. Defense lawyers say they have not committed any violent acts and were exercising their constitutional rights of free speech, bearing arms and free association.
Charged are alleged leader David Stone Sr., 45, of Clayton; his son Joshua Stone, 21, of Clayton; his adopted son, David Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian; his wife, Tina Stone, 44, of Clayton; Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield; Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester; Kristopher Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio; Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio; and Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind.
Scheer's order technically applies to only the eight defendants in Detroit, but it effectively applies also to Piatek, who is in custody in Indiana and awaiting transfer to Detroit.
"I've got a 21-year-old young man who has no criminal history and who is going to be detained for what appears to be a matter that is going to be quite protracted," said Detroit attorney James C. Thomas, who represents David Stone Jr.
"The indictment is nothing more than a piece of paper," Thomas said on the courthouse steps after Scheer delivered his ruling. "These are allegations and they have not yet been proven.
"Believe me, if there's a defense in this case, I will find it."
The Hutaree Web site describes the group as a Christian militia preparing for battle with forces of the Antichrist. But prosecutors say the case is not about religion, but a group of people who want to wage war on the U.S. government.