DETROIT (AP) -- A Michigan militia leader and his son each pleaded guilty Thursday to illegally possessing a machine gun, ending a six-week trial that took a dramatic turn this week when a judge dismissed more serious charges of conspiring to rebel against the government.
Gun charges were the only counts left against David Stone and Joshua Stone after U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts said prosecutors had failed to present evidence of a specific plan to go to war against law enforcement and federal authorities. She acquitted them and five other members of the Hutaree militia.
David Stone, 51, and Joshua Stone, 23, of Lenawee County, Mich., each admitted they possessed a machine gun. They have been locked up without bond for two years and could face additional prison time after their guilty pleas.
Prosecutors asked that David Stone stay in custody until sentencing, but Roberts released the father and son. Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheldon Light said the elder Stone still was a threat to the public.
For weeks, jurors in Detroit heard secretly recorded conversations between David Stone and an FBI informant and agent. He talked about killing police, building bombs and engaging an international coalition of freedom-hating law enforcers dubbed the "brotherhood."
Federal authorities said the Hutaree wanted to kill an officer, attack the funeral, cause chaos in the countryside and launch war against the government. But prosecutors this week acknowledged there was no specific plan -- an admission that clearly irritated the judge.
"What the government has shown, instead of a concrete agreement and plan to forcibly oppose the authority of the government, is that most -- if not all -- of these defendants held strong anti-government sentiments," Roberts said in a 28-page decision Tuesday. "But the court must not guess about what defendants intended to do with their animosity."
David Stone's wife, Tina Stone, was among the militia members cleared of all charges. She sat in the courtroom gallery Thursday instead of at the defense table and watched her husband plead guilty to the gun charge.
Moments earlier, she told The Associated Press that her husband's Hutaree days are over, although she said the group was never the violent threat that the government had claimed.
"They couldn't overthrow F-Troop," Tina Stone said, referring to a 1960s TV satire about soldiers in the Old West after the Civil War.