This just gets better and better.
For those who missed it, the Detroit News has a summary of yesterday's bumbling.
Short version: the judge isn’t buying what the FBI is selling. Naturally, the prosecution has to bring up Oklahoma City:
"With somebody like Timothy McVeigh ... we don't know what would have happened had law enforcement been able to intervene before the events took place."
Waterstreet's comparison of the Hutaree case to the Oklahoma City bombing case drew hisses from relatives of the defendants seated in the courtroom and shouted objections from defense lawyers.
I’m surprised the prosecutors haven’t yet brought up Hitler analogies. As I noted yesterday, one of the problems the FBI has encountered in selling its story to the judge is that the wild-eyed fanatics didn’t actually have any of the bombs they were going to set off:
The Hutaree members also face charges of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. But defense lawyers have noted no bombs were among the large amounts of weapons and ammunition seized from defendants and said the only explosives set off at Hutaree training exercises were supplied and detonated by an undercover FBI agent who infiltrated the group.
Hmmm, so if these guys are the next incarnation of Tim McVeigh, maybe teaching them how to make bombs is a bad idea.
It looks like the prosecution turned to the rocket scientists at the BATFE to answer my question about whether the firearms are illegal, with more hilarious results:
On Wednesday, Waterstreet called Special Agent Brian Leuttke of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to testify that four of the rifles seized had barrels shorter than what's allowed by law.
But [Judge] Roberts did not allow Leuttke's testimony after defense lawyers complained they had received no notice that the ATF agent from Grand Rapids had been brought in overnight and they had received no copies of his report on the allegedly illegal weapons.
Oops! Nice to see that the judge isn’t merely going to take the government’s word for it.
As I noted yesterday, you don’t need a doctorate in physics to determine if a gun is illegal. Unless it’s stolen, automatic or sawed off, it’s legal. If the barrel is too short, it is considered a handgun and would have to be registered with the Michigan State Police. Failing to register it is a state, not federal offense.
Michigan's firearms laws are gathered in a handy compilation at the State Police web site.
The question of what counts as a "short-barreled rifle" is a sticky one, and at least from the documents given there, has never actually been nailed down in law (former gun-hating Attorney General Frank Kelley wrote an opinion, but those are a little ambiguous under the state Constitution).
The upshot is that the prosecution's case seems to be pretty thin gruel.
This is perhaps why today the prosecution was reduced to playing scary tape recordings:
In the tape, David Stone says that others talk about taking on the federal government directly but it makes more sense to begin the fight at the local level.
"It's your local PD (police department), morons," he says on the tape. "You know where they live. I know where four county cops live. We can go burn their house down."
Joshua Stone volunteers that he knows "where at least one Hillsdale undercover cop lives." And Sickles says: "I know where half the Huron cops live."
David Stone discusses killing a police officer and then using bombs to attack the scores of officers drawn to the slain officer's funeral.
"I'm thinking' IEDs, and you just blow the whole convoy up. Boom!" he says on the tape.