A federal judge acquitted seven members of the Hutaree militia Tuesday of the most serious charges following six weeks of testimony in a high-profile terror case.
On the second anniversary of the Hutaree arrests, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts granted a defense motion Tuesday to acquit the militia members on seven charges, including seditious conspiracy and conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. The most serious charge could have resulted in life prison sentences.
She ordered the trial to continue against Hutaree leader David Stone Sr. and his son, Joshua Stone, on weapons-related charges....
The judge said the government's case was built largely on circumstantial evidence.
"While this evidence could certainly lead to a rationale fact-finder to conclude that 'something fishy' was going on, it does not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that defendants reached a concrete agreement to forcibly oppose the United States government," Roberts wrote.
The judge's order cannot be appealed, said Peter Henning, a former prosecutor and current law professor at Wayne State University. That would constitute double jeopardy.
"Ultimately, this was a case that was all talk and no action," Henning said. "This is a blow to the government. They put a lot of resources into this case. It demonstrates how difficult it is to prove conspiracy cases that have not advanced very far."...
Defense attorneys sought acquittals Monday, saying prosecutors failed to show proof of a conspiracy to commit rebellion. They admitted there was plenty of offensive talk about police and the government but all was protected by the First Amendment.
I asked "Where's the Terror?" on the fifth anniversary of 9/11, and it's still an apt question.