DETROIT (AP) — The leader of a Michigan militia said in a conversation secretly recorded by an undercover informant that he would kill police officers and their family members as part of a prelude to a larger war against the government.
The tape played Thursday in U.S. District Court in Detroit features David Stone, one of seven members of the group called Hutaree, charged with conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion. Stone said on the tape that after killing officers he would go to their homes and burn them down.
"And if I kill their wives and their children inside, then so be it, because I'm sending a message to the rest of them," Stone said on the tape. "Your family is going in the patrol car with you every day you go out there. Every time you stop somebody, it's your family that's on the line."
Defense lawyers have said Stone and his associates were all talk and no action. Attorneys representing Hutaree members in the weeks long trial argue no violence was perpetrated by any defendant and the government has manipulated facts.
FBI agent Leslie Larsen testified last week that informant Dan Murray secretly recorded conversations with the militia while he trained or attended meetings with members, especially leader David Stone. Larsen said the FBI removed Murray from the Hutaree in January 2010, more than two months before charges were filed, because an undercover agent had been securely planted inside the group.
Murray had his own problems in February of that year, when he fired a gun toward his wife and, in a separate incident, attempted suicide, according to court records. Defense lawyers have suggested that the informant's personal problems may have motivated the government to round up Hutaree members, not because of some threat against police as authorities have insisted.
"I cut myself, yes sir," Murray testified Friday, admitting he initially lied to police and accused his wife. "I told them the truth as soon as I could ... I said she didn't do it. I did."
Murray also said the shooting occurred during an argument.
"I did not shoot at my wife. I shot my gun at a door," he testified. He eventually pleaded guilty to discharging a weapon at a building and received three years' probation.
Of the original nine defendants, Joshua Clough, of Blissfield, Mich., is the only one to make a deal with prosecutors. He pleaded guilty in December to illegal use of a firearm and faces a mandatory five-year prison sentence. He could be called as a witness to testify for the government.
Besides Stone, the other defendants are Tina Mae Stone, Joshua Stone and David Stone Jr., all from Lenawee County; Thomas Piatek, of Whiting, Ind.; Michael Meeks, of Manchester, Mich.; and Kristopher Sickles, of Sandusky, Ohio. Jacob Ward, of Huron, Ohio, will have a separate trial.
Besides conspiracy charges, all face at least one firearm charge.