- Associated Press -
A federal judge challenged prosecutors Wednesday to show that nine members of a Michigan militia accused of plotting war against the government had done more than just talk and should remain locked up.
U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts heard nearly 10 hours of testimony and arguments over two days. She did not make a decision about whether the nine will remain in custody, saying only that a ruling would come soon.
The members of a southern Michigan group called Hutaree have been in custody for a month. An indictment accuses them of weapons violations and a rare crime: conspiring to commit sedition, or rebellion, against the government by first killing police officers.
Prosecutors say the public would be at risk if the nine are released. But defense lawyers claim the government has overreached with a criminal case based mostly on hateful speech.
An undercover agent infiltrated the group and secretly made recordings that have been played in court. While there is talk about killing police, it's not specific. In one conversation, there are many people talking over each other and laughing.
Roberts pressed that point more than once as Assistant U.S. Attorney Ronald Waterstreet argued in favor of keeping the nine in jail. The judge suggested she didn't hear or read in the transcripts any indication that violence was imminent.
"Mere presence where a crime may be planned is not a crime. ... How does this add up to seditious conspiracy?" Roberts said.
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