Release likely for 3 jailed militia members

Tina Stone, David Stone Jr., and Jacob Ward may go free until trial

By Ed White
Associated Press

DETROIT — Three of nine members of a Midwestern militia who are accused of conspiring to overthrow the government likely will be released from jail Tuesday until trial, a defense attorney said.

Prosecutors notified attorneys for Tina Stone, David Stone Jr., and Jacob Ward that they intended to withdraw their opposition to a judge's order releasing the three, lawyer Michael Rataj said.

"I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. They want to let her out," said Rataj, who represents Tina Stone. "Why they approached me and lawyers for two other defendants, I don't know."

The three were to appear Tuesday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Detroit, said Rod Hansen, a spokesman for the court.

Prosecutors will continue to oppose the release of the other six and met a Monday deadline to file new court papers with the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati.

U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts ordered the release of all nine members until trial under strict conditions, including electronic monitors. But the government appealed her ruling, and the 6th Circuit suspended it May 10.

A three-judge panel at the court is hearing the government's appeal, but a decision won't come until next week or early June.

The nine, who have been in custody since March, are charged with conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the government and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. Prosecutors say they planned to kill a police officer, then attack police who attended the funeral - initial steps on the way to greater violence.

Defense attorneys say the government's secret recordings of group members show they engaged in stupid, hateful speech, but that it did not amount to a conspiracy to wage war on the United States.

Gina Balaya, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Detroit, said she had no details on the deal between prosecutors and defense lawyers to release the three members.

Under Roberts' previous order, the three would be released to family members who would act as custodians.

Ward, 33, is from Huron, Ohio. Tina Stone, 44, of Clayton, Mich., is the wife of jailed militia leader David Stone. She would stay with her father. David Stone Jr., 19, of Adrian, Mich., would be placed under his mother's supervision.

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