U.S. attorney: Hutaree member shot cat to prepare for attack

The Detroit News/March 31, 2010

Detroit - A member of a radical militia group told others he killed his cat with a handgun as part of his training for a pending war against law enforcement, a federal prosecutor said today in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet said Hutaree defendant Kristopher Sickles made the claim in January to defendant Joshua Stone in the presence of a federal undercover agent who was posing as someone who could provide the group with explosives.

Sickles, 27, of Sandusky, Ohio, "said he did it to 'see if I could do it, to see if I could kill something I had a feeling for,' " Waterstreet said at a detention hearing for seven of the nine Hutaree defendants.

A grand jury indictment unsealed Monday alleges the group planned to kill a police officer and then use bombs to attack the scores of officers drawn to the slain officer's funeral. The defendants are charged with seditious conspiracy, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and other weapons offenses.

At the completion of arraignments today for eight of the nine defendants, Joshua Stone, 21, of Clayton, the son of the alleged leader, pleaded not guilty. The others stood mute and had not guilty pleas entered for them.

The government wants alleged leader David Stone Sr., 45, of Clayton, and all eight of his alleged followers jailed to await trial. One of the defendants, Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind., is still awaiting transfer to Detroit. A lawyer for defendant Michael Meeks, 40, of Manchester asked that his detention hearing be delayed until Thursday so she could present evidence that would distinguish him from the other defendants.

Waterstreet told U.S. Magistrate Judge Donald Scheer that an undercover federal agent attended training exercises with the Hutaree in 2009 and 2010, when members detonated explosive devices and Stone Sr. asked the agent to provide him with custom-made bombs.

Stone "wanted to own his own country," Waterstreet said. As for the police, Stone told an informant: "We're gonna pop every one of them," Waterstreet said.

He feared a new world order in which a world government would be imposed and believed the group was about to go to war with "the brotherhood," which he defined as all local state and federal law enforcement officers, Waterstreet said. Stone believed spouses of all law enforcement officers also should be killed, he said.

The FBI, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and other federal agents decided to take down the group in a series of weekend arrests that started Saturday because of a training exercise planned for April in which Stone planned to use a van to send a team into a hostile area, Waterstreet said.

Stone's instructions were that "if anybody happened upon them, and they did not submit to the demands of the Hutaree, they would be put on the ground either by bullet or by knife," Waterstreet said.

Explosives, guns and bomb-making equipment were seized from Stone's home in Lenawee County's Dover Township, he said.

Michael Rataj, an attorney for defendant Tina Stone, 44, the wife of the alleged leader, said before today's hearing that "the allegations themselves have a lot of sex appeal," but it remains to be seen whether they have any substance.

Waterstreet said that Tina Stone complained in the presence of the undercover agent that her son, Joshua, did not have a job and said he could not get a job "because he was getting ready for war."

Tina Stone replied that "she was getting ready for war, but she still had a job," Waterstreet said.

Tina Stone smiled, rolled her eyes slightly and looked at Rataj after Waterstreet made those comments to the judge.

Waterstreet played an audio tape the undercover agent made in which David Stone Sr. discusses plans to attend a militia summit in Kentucky and reads a speech he planned to deliver there.

"The people should not be afraid of the government; the government should be afraid of the people," Stone said in the speech. "Now is the time to strike and take our nation back."

Hutaree Web sites describe the group as a Christian militia training for a battle with forces of the Antichrist. The group was based out of Lenawee County.

But Waterstreet said: "This case is not about a religious group, it's not about the militia. It's about a group of like-minded people who decided to oppose the authority of the U.S. government by using violence and weapons."

Also charged are Stone's adopted son, David Jr., 19, of Adrian; Joshua Clough, 28, of Blissfield; and Jacob Ward, 33, of Huron, Ohio.

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