Judge Dismisses Case Against Seven Hutaree Militia Members

The high-profile federal case against Michigan’s Hutaree Militia came to an abrupt end in March when a federal judge dismissed most charges against seven members charged with plotting to murder police officers in an effort to ignite a revolution against the federal government.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said in a 28-page order that the case was built largely on circumstantial evidence that fell short of proving guilt. “While this evidence could certainly lead a rational fact finder to conclude that ‘something fishy’ was going on, it does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants reached a concrete agreement to forcibly oppose the United States Government,” she wrote in her ruling.

Two members of the militia, however, pleaded guilty on March 29 to lesser federal weapons charges. David Stone Sr., 47, and his son, Joshua Stone, admitted they had possessed two unregistered .223-caliber rifles.

After the pleas were entered, the elder Stone, the Hutaree leader, told the Detroit Free Press that he thinks the case “will only lead to more mistrust of the government by militias.” Federal prosecutors, however, stood by their investigation.

In many ways, the ruling was an embarrassment for the federal government, which had a paid informant and an FBI agent inside the Hutaree Militia four years ago. “The plan is utterly short on specifics,” Roberts wrote of what those agents uncovered. “[I]t is a stretch to infer that other members of the Hutaree knew of this plan, and agreed to further it.”

Stone and his son, who have been in jail for two years, were released on bond pending a sentencing hearing, scheduled in August. Under the terms of their plea agreements, the elder Stone faces 33 to 48 months in prison. Joshua Stone faces 27 to 33 months.