The day after a federal case against seven members of a Michigan militia fell apart, one woman cleared of plotting against the government said the two-year saga ruined her and her family.
Federal agents raided the Hutaree Militia in 2010, arresting members that allegedly conspired to kill police officers as part of a rebellion against the federal government. On Tuesday, a federal judge threw out the most serious charges of conspiring to commit sedition and conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, saying there was a lack of evidence.
The return to freedom came with a high price, one member said.
"We've lost everything," Tina Stone said in a taped interview with the Associated Press. Stone's husband, David Stone, and stepson Joshua Stone have been behind bars since their arrest exactly two years ago, until U.S. District Judge Victoria Robert dismissed almost all of the charges this week. "We don't have a house to live in. ... Even pictures of my kids as they were growing up -- we've lost them all."
Her husband and stepson return to court Thursday to face the remaining weapons charges that carry a possible 10-year sentence, the Detroit News reported.
Defense attorneys and the prosecution were talking about a possible deal to resolve the remaining charges, the Detroit News said.
The five other defendants have been cleared of all charges. Responding to a request from the defense to toss the case, Roberts ruled that prosecutors didn't present evidence backing their claims of an imminent threat to the state.
The FBI had infiltrated the group with an informant and an undercover agent who collected evidence of extreme anti-government attitudes. There was talk of building pipe bombs and, in one recording, David Stone said he would kill cops.
However, there was never an attack and the defense argued that the inflammatory language was wrongly used against the militia members.
"They had no case to begin with," Tina Stone said in the AP interview. "We never wanted to take over the federal government. We never wanted to kill a police officer. Everything was taken out of context."
One of the newly freed men, Michael Meeks, also told the AP that he was going back to normal life as quickly as possible. He intended to get a new driver's license and return to his job in a recycling plant.