Three defendants in the Hutaree militia case will not be staying in a taxpayer funded hotel for the duration of their trial, a federal judge has decided, but can instead take lodging in the local prison if they’re too hard up to afford other accommodations.On Friday, U.S. District Judge Victoria Roberts rejected a request by defendants David Brian Stone, Jr., Tina Mae Stone and Kristopher Sickles to be reimbursed for hotel lodging expenses they expect to incur, because, as they say, they can’t afford to pay the cost of transportation to and from the trial.
Roberts said in her ruling that the law only requires defendants to be reimbursed for legal costs and some transportation costs “to the place where his appearance is required” — not necessarily the return trip, and not lodging expenses. “They would get mileage for one-way and subsistence for time in actual travel. The Marshal says he is not required to pay lodging expenses, and he declines to do so.”
She explained that the government can’t afford to pay for lodging costs. “While the court does not oppose the motion, it appears there are no funds available to pay expenses, short of lodging Defendants at community corrections facilities and the Defendants seeking reimbursement for some transportation costs from the U.S. Marshal.”
The Stones, Sickles and five other members of the Hutaree militia are expected to begin trial on February 7 for allegedly plotting to kill police officers. The court recently ordered that members of the jury be kept anonymous for privacy reasons, because the case is so high-profile. “These jurors will be thrust into the eye of a storm simply because they have honored our request to perform this high civic duty,” Roberts wrote, but added that the decision was “not based at all on the belief that defendants present a danger to potential jurors.”
In December, Joshua Clough, also known as “Azzurlin,” “Az” and “Mouse,” pleaded guilty to a weapons charge Monday, making him the first to reach a plea deal in the case.