DETROIT -- 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." He will live with his mother Donna Hopejoy.
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.
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 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 and David Stone Jr. are from Lenawee County, Mich. Ward is from Huron, Ohio.
"I'm not one to look a gift horse in the mouth. They want to let her out," said Michael Rataj, a lawyer for Tina Stone. "Why they approached me and lawyers for two other defendants, I don't know."
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.