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3 Militia Members Freed While Awaiting Trial

Three members of a Midwest militia who are accused of conspiring to overthrow the government were released from jail until trial after prosecutors withdrew their efforts to keep them in custody Tuesday.

Tina Stone, wife of the group's founder; David Stone Jr., the founder's son; and Jacob Ward 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. Authorities say the three can't do much other than go to work, meet with lawyers and keep medical appointments.

"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."

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.

"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."

An appeals court is still considering whether six other members of the group known as the Hutaree should be released before trial.

Henry Scharg, an attorney for militia member Kristopher Sickles, of Sandusky, Ohio, said it's possible Sickles could be released this week.

Falvey declined to comment about that.

The FBI raided homes across the Midwest in March, arresting nine members of the Hutaree, which trained in southern Michigan. Authorities said the group was plotting to attack and kill a law enforcement officer, then kill other officers as they gathered for their fallen colleague's funeral.

The nine where 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.

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.

A trial date has not been set.

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