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Ex-militia member pleads guilty to weapons crime in Michigan

A former Michigan man connected to a militia group pleaded guilty last week to use of a firearm during, and in relation to, a crime of violence. The man was the first of the nine alleged militia members accused by the government who entered a plea. The other eight defendants are set for a trial in February.

By pleading guilty, the man admitted that the militia group advocated violent attacks on law enforcement and their vehicles via the use of explosive bombs. He also admitted that his group conducted training in Lenawee County, Michigan, where members engaged in drills aimed at training them in weapons proficiency and how to assemble and deploy explosives.

Specifically, the man admitted to carrying and using a firearm in February 2010 during training exercises, during which his group prepared for a covert exercise scheduled to take place in April of that year. For entering his guilty plea, the 29-year-old man faces up to five years in prison.

The other defendants in the group face charges such as attempting to use weapons of mass destruction and seditious conspiracy. They contend that they merely engaged in talking about the crimes for which they are accused, and that their actions are protected as part of their free speech rights.

The government, however, says that they have evidence that demonstrates the group was armed and ready to carry out the plans. One such scheme allegedly involved conspiring to kill a local law enforcement officer and then set off bombs at the funeral.

While these are serious charges, citizens accused of such crimes are entitled to mount a defense and to choose effective representation that will protect their rights.

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Michigan Hutaree militia member pleads guilty; first conviction for U.S. in terror case," Dec. 5, 2011

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