DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A Michigan-based militia leader and his son have pleaded guilty to a machine gun charge, two days after a federal judge dismissed more serious charges against them and five members of the group.
Hutaree leader David Stone and Joshua Stone pleaded guilty Thursday to possessing a machine gun in a deal with federal prosecutors in Detroit. The pleas end a six-week trial that began with seven militia members charged with conspiring to go to war against the government and to use weapons of mass destruction.
A federal judge dismissed those charges Tuesday, saying the government’s failure to present evidence of a plan doomed their case. Weapons violations were all that were left against the elder and younger Stone, both from Lenawee County, Mich.
Prosecutors say Hutaree members were anti-government rebels who combined training and strategy sessions to prepare for a violent strike against federal law enforcement.
The government said the Hutaree wanted to kill a police officer then attack the funeral as part of a domestic war.
There was no actual attack.
Defense lawyers said the Hutaree were simply “weekend warriors” who engaged in stupid, hateful speech, but nothing criminal. They said offensive talk was wrongly turned into a high-profile criminal case.
U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade expressed both satifcation and disapointment in a statement released Thursday.
“We are gratified that these felony convictions mean that these defendants will never be permitted to possess firearms again,” said McQuade.
“The court’s order dismissing the more serious charges in this case was disappointing, but it does not shake our commitment to dismantling groups who would harm our citizens and law enforcement officers, and these efforts will continue. While we disagree with the court’s decision, we respect its role and we recognize that reasonable minds can disagree on where legal lines are drawn,” she said.
David Stone and Joshua Stone had been in custody for two years. The trial started Feb. 13.
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