Defense attorneys for Hutaree member challenge search warrant affidavits, want evidence suppressed
Defense attorneys are alleging an FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force agent made several misrepresentations and omissions in affidavits she used to obtain search warrants last March in the case against Hutaree militia member David Stone Jr.
Richard Helfrick and Todd Shanker, who are representing Stone Jr., filed a Franks motion Tuesday requesting a hearing to prove the agent made intentionally false or reckless statements under oath.
The motion also requests evidence seized during two searches targeting Stone Jr. be suppressed, claiming the searches were "unconstitutional."
Federal prosecutors have not yet filed a response.
Stone Jr. is one of nine Hutaree members awaiting trial on charges that they were conspiring to levy war against the United States. The motion challenges portions of two affidavits — 41 pages total — submitted by Michigan State Police Det/Sgt. Sandra Larsen, who is assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force in Detroit.
One 38-page affidavit was used to obtain a search warrant for numerous properties, including a home in Onsted where agents believed Stone Jr. was living. Nothing was seized at that location, records show. Agents used the other affidavit to obtain a search warrant for Stone Jr.'s apartment in Adrian, where records show a Bible, Hutaree jacket, ammunition and other items were found.
According to a brief in support of the motion, the lengthier affidavit "only recounts three occasions where even a hint of the alleged plot against police officers was arguably mentioned," during the 20-month investigation.
Stone Jr. wasn't present and didn't participate in any of those conversations, the brief says. In addition, the brief says, there is not a single passage in hundreds of hours of secret audio recordings by investigators where Stone Jr. says "anything remotely hostile regarding police or government."
The brief also challenges the affidavit's claim that "the Hutaree" were ordering IEDS and providing their supplier — an undercover FBI agent — with diagrams to build the devices. According to the brief, the affidavit and recordings fail to provide any evidence Stone Jr. had knowledge of the alleged IED orders.
“The affiant’s blatant misrepresentations and absurdly broad sweep of all indicted and unindicted Hutaree members into a category of extreme criminality was deliberately or recklessly untruthful,” the brief says.
In addition to challenging what is in the affidavits, the brief raises concerns about what it not. For instance, the brief questions why the lengthier affidavit made no mention of Stone Jr.'s newborn son, how he moved out of his father's house and told an undercover agent he was no longer keeping militia "stuff" at his home because of the child.
"Why would the affiant omit this information?" the brief says. "Because it would have significantly weakened the affidavit's portrayal of Stone Jr. as a criminal conspirator committed to overthrowing the United States government and killing police officers."