By Bernie Woodall
DETROIT (Reuters) - The leader of a Midwestern militia group bragged to an FBI informant in secretly recorded conversations played this week at his federal trial that he would kill police and their families to try to keep other officers from enforcing federal laws.
David Brian Stone Sr., one of seven members of a group called the Hutaree facing trial on federal charges that they were plotting to kill police to spark a wider insurrection, did not say what would trigger the attack.
"The guys with the little stars on their chest are enforcing all the new world order laws," Stone could be heard saying on one recording made by the informant. "We're going to pop 'em.
Defense attorneys have contended the Hutaree was a social group whose members were exercising their right of free speech. Prosecutors on Thursday and Friday sought to prove otherwise with the recordings and testimony by the informant.
"Now am I going to be cruel and mean? Yeah, I'm going to take the ID's of the first guys that we shoot, and we'll go back to their houses and burn their houses down. And if I kill their wives and their children inside, well then so be it, because I'm sending a message to the rest of them," Stone said at one point.
That message, Stone says on the recording, is that, "Every time you respond to a call, your family is on the line ... ."
Stone and the informant, Dan Murray, 57, of Dearborn, Michigan, were heard agreeing that police officers are allowed by fellow officers to get away with drunk driving, speeding and even shootings in the name of the "brotherhood."
On Friday, defense attorney James Thomas sought to discredit Murray, a key prosecution witness who spied on the Hutaree from late 2008 to January 2010.
Under questioning by Thomas, who represents defendant Joshua Stone, the son of David Brian Stone Sr., Murray said he did not pay taxes on about $25,000 the FBI gave him, usually by cash in an envelope, when he met with his FBI contact for lunch.
Murray said he has a full-time job as an internet technology specialist that pays at least $100,000, and did not infiltrate the Hutaree for the money paid by the FBI.
Murray also disclosed that he had been sentenced to probation for a 2010 incident in which during an argument with his wife he fired a gun into a door, but not in her direction.
In another incident that year, Murray said he had stabbed himself in the abdomen during a heated argument with his wife and initially told police his wife had stabbed him.
The cross-examination of Murray is to continue Monday. An FBI agent is expected to testify for prosecutors as the case unfolds.
The trial is expected to take about eight weeks before U.S. District Court Judge Victoria Roberts. It began on February 13.
The trial is the latest instance of the U.S. government prosecuting what it views as a growing threat of violence from home-grown anti-government extremists, the most dramatic case of which was the 1995 bombing of an Oklahoma City government building that killed 168 people.
As of late 2011, there were about 250 active militia groups in the United States, according to the Anti-Defamation League. The Hutaree militia is classified as a militia with a religious twist because it has a militia ideology and activities, and maintains contacts with other groups, the ADL has said.
Defense attorneys have argued the group did not demonstrate real intent to carry out acts of terrorism and no attacks were carried out.
Prosecutors contend the group had met regularly since 2008 to conduct military style training and were preparing for an upcoming attack when authorities executed search warrants and swept them up in raids in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana.
Federal agents seized machine guns, unregistered short-barrel guns, ammunition, explosive devices and materials that could be used to make explosives, according to court documents.
The charges against all seven include sedition, the attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and firearms offenses. Nine members of the group were indicted, one pleaded guilty and trial has been delayed for another suspect.
On trial are accused group leader David Brian Stone Sr.; his wife, Tina Mae Stone; and their two sons, David Brian Stone Jr. and Joshua Matthew Stone. Michael David Meeks, Thomas William Piatek and Kristopher Sickles also face trial.
(Reporting By Bernie Woodall; Editing by Tim Gaynor)