Detroit A federal magistrate judge Friday locked up eight members of a Michigan militia group pending trial on charges that they conspired to overthrow the U.S. government.
“It is difficult to underestimate the dangers inherent in the crimes charged in this case,” Magistrate Judge Donald Scheer said from his bench in the U.S. District courthouse in Detroit in ordering the seven men and one woman to remain in jail for what their lawyers said could be a two-year wait until trial.
The lawyers, who are likely to appeal Scheer’s decision, said the defendants pose no risk to the public and are not a flight risk to avoid trial.
But Scheer said they did pose a risk, adding he could find no combination of bond restrictions that would guarantee that they would appear for trial and not pose a risk to the community.
David Stone Sr., 45; his wife, Tina Stone, 44; and his son, Joshua Stone, all of Clayton, Mich.; Stone’s other son, David Stone Jr., 19 of Adrian, Mich.; Joshua Clough, 28 of Blissfield, Mich.; Michael Meeks, 40 of Manchester, Mich.; Kristopher Sickles, 27 of Sandusky, Ohio; and Jacob Ward, 33 of Huron, Ohio. A ninth defendant, Thomas Piatek, 46, of Whiting, Ind., was arrested there and is awaiting transfer to Michigan for trial.
A grand jury indictment says the defendants, led by David Stone Sr., belonged to the Hutaree, a Christian militia, and planned to attack local, state and federal law enforcement officers. Prosecutors said they held training exercises and exploded bombs to prepare for battle.
The indictment said they planned to kill a police officer and attack members of the officer’s funeral procession.
The defendants pleaded not guilty and their lawyers disputed the charges during a two-day detention hearing earlier this week. The lawyers told Scheer the defendants voiced unfavorable views of the government but that they never acted on those beliefs and should be released on bond pending trial, which could be two years off.