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Court hearing for alleged militia members continues Wednesday

By the CNN Wire Staff
Prosecutors said David Brian Stone talked of killing any witness who came upon a training exercise.
Prosecutors said David Brian Stone talked of killing any witness who came upon a training exercise.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Judge did not rule on the case Tuesday, hearing reconvenes at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday
  • Prosecutors read transcript in which leader allegedly discussed killing witnesses
  • Defense attorneys asked judge to focus on lighthearted tone of tape
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(CNN) -- A hearing to decide whether nine alleged members of a Michigan-based anti-government militia should be released from jail on bond will continue Wednesday.

Charges against the alleged members of the so-called Hutaree militia range from conspiring to overthrow the government to attempted use of weapons of mass destruction. Attorneys representing them say they should be released on bond until they face those charges in court.

But federal prosecutors are urging U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts to uphold a federal magistrate's ruling and keep the suspects in jail. Roberts did not rule on the case Tuesday and scheduled the hearing to reconvene at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Prosecutors said evidence revealed in federal court Tuesday shows why the alleged militia members should not be released before trial.

According to CNN affiliate WDIV in Detroit, Michigan, prosecutors read from a tape transcript in which David Brian Stone Sr., 45, the accused head of the group, allegedly discussed killing any witness who came upon a training exercise. "Putting bullets through bodies ain't no easy thing. But hey, do it a couple times, it don't bother you," the transcript said, according to WDIV.

Prosecutors also played a tape which they said shows that the group was planning to ambush a procession at a police officer's funeral. In the tape Stone allegedly says, "You have cops from every state in the country coming to where? The funeral."

But defense attorneys focused on the tone of the tape. Hutaree members are laughing, talking over each other and making sound effects of bombs and gunfire, WDIV said.

"When you hear someone make a crash sound -- kaboom -- does that mean there's a sense of purpose?" defense attorney Jim Thomas argued.

Along with Stone, his sons Joshua, 21, and David Brian Stone Jr., 19, and his wife, Tina Stone, 44, have been charged with seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence.

Alleged militia members Joshua John Clough, 28; Kristopher Sickles, 27; Michael David Meeks, 40; Jacob Ward, 33; and Thomas Piatek, 46, face the same charges.

The defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Prosecutors have argued that the defendants would be a danger to the community and a flight risk if they were released on bond before trial. But defense attorneys say the government has not made the case for holding them.

"I think that you all saw the case that the government has, which isn't a case," defense attorney Mike Rataj, who represents Tina Stone, told WDIV outside U.S. District Court Tuesday. "You've got people shackled at the ankles and handcuffed and detained for, basically, criticizing the government. This is a very scary case. And so we hope that tomorrow the judge does the right thing and gives everybody bond so we can defend this case."

At a hearing on April 2, government prosecutors argued that the defendants would be a danger to the community and a flight risk if they were freed on bail before trial. A federal magistrate in Detroit agreed and ordered the suspects to be held in jail pending their trial.

Prosecutors have portrayed the Hutaree militia as a dark-hearted group with evil intent. They said Stone's plan was to create his own country carved from four Michigan counties, then defend that country against attack by the "One World Order" army.

The group allegedly planned to incite that attack by making a false 911 complaint, shooting any police officer who responded, and then attacking attendees at the funerals of those officers with improvised explosive devices.

Conviction on the charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction would carry a maximum penalty of life in prison, while seditious conspiracy and teaching the use of explosive materials each would carry a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison.

The firearm charge would carry a mandatory minimum penalty of at least five years in prison, according to authorities.