Three members of a Midwest militia who are accused of conspiring to overthrow the government were released from jail Tuesday until trial after prosecutors withdrew their efforts to keep them in custody.
David Stone Jr., Jacob Ward and Tina Stone were released to family members after appearing in federal court in Detroit. They must wear electronic monitors and follow strict conditions set by a judge.
"It's a great start," said David Stone Jr.'s attorney, Todd Shanker. "David Jr. is not a danger to anybody. He's going to work at a nearby farm and he's not going to bother anybody."
After the hearing, Tina Stone said she was happy to be going to her father's home in Hillsdale County but declined further comment. Asked what's ahead, her father, Tim Kelley, said with a laugh: "She's pickin' my strawberries. I know that."
Assistant U.S. Attorney Joseph Falvey Jr. said he dropped his opposition to the release of the three after being assured their freedom would be very limited. The defendants can go to work, see their lawyers and keep medical appointments, but not much else.
"Our (initial) understanding was it was just home detention with a curfew. Our fear was that was not going to limit their movement," Falvey said. "It may be a distinction without a difference. It just wasn't clear to us."
The U.S. attorney's office is appealing a judge's order to release six other members of the militia, which is called Hutaree and which trained in southern Michigan.
But Henry Scharg, an attorney for militia member Kristopher Sickles, of Sandusky, Ohio, said it's possible Sickles, too, could be released this week. Falvey declined to comment.
The nine members of the group are charged with conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the government and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction. Prosecutors had argued that all nine should remain in jail pending trial because they were a danger to the public.
Tina Stone will live with her father. Stone Jr. of Lenawee County will live with his mother, Donna Popejoy. Ward is from Huron, Ohio, and will live there with his mother, Nadine Bober.
Tina Stone's attorney, Michael Rataj, said she can't wait to get the "smell of the Wayne County jail off her."
"I don't know what motivated the government. I'm not interested," he said. "We can begin focusing on the charges against us."
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 and is expected to rule on the matter by early June.