Last week a federal judge dismissed a majority of the government’s case against the Christian militia holding that the heated rhetoric against law enforcement employed by the Hutaree’s leader David Stone Jr. and his son Joshua did not amount to a specific plot and that the evidence against the other members of the militia was weak.
Both David and Joshua Stone plead guilty to possessing illegal machine guns. They both face a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine up to $250,000. Based on their felony convictions, the Stones will never be allowed to possess firearms again.
The plea marks the end of a rocky road for this domestic terrorism prosecution. The case started after he FBI raided individuals in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana alleging the group was preparing to carry out a series of bombing attacks in a larger plot to kill police officers. The group was then going to follow up with additional bombings during the funeral processions of those slain officers. The goal of the attacks, according to the FBI was to incite nationwide anti-government violence.
The allegations were spectacular and the raids executed early in the stage of the purported conspiracy. Perhaps too early.
The case faced bumps from the beginning as U.S. District Judge Victoria A. Roberts said, basically, that the individuals charged lacked the sophistication, skills, and means necessary to carry out the acts charged. This plea seems to support Judge Roberts’ initial skepticism.
Which leads to a different problem. No doubt this failed prosecution will only embolden other hard-right anti-government militias. And with the Rep. Ron Paul (R) presidential campaign stagnant and an election around the corner, emboldening the militias could prove to be a very dangerous thing.
Photo from Dushan and Miae via flickr.