Hutaree Militia Trial: Defense Attacks Credibility of FBI Informer

Detroit Free Press -

By Tresa Baldas
Detroit Free Press Staff Writer

Defense lawyers in the Hutaree militia trial are attacking the credibility of the government's star witness: a confidential informant accused of shooting at his wife while undercover for the FBI.

And he still got paid, despite being criminally charged.

On Tuesday, the second day of the Hutaree trial, defense lawyers lambasted the informant, telling jurors he has "glaring credibility" issues and was "spiraling out of control" while undercover.

Specifically, defense lawyers told jurors that the informant, Dan Murray, was charged in 2010 with shooting at his wife. The incident occurred about a month before the FBI arrested the Hutaree defendants and charged them with plotting a violent overthrow of the government that was to include killing a police officer and bombing a funeral.

Murray, who had infiltrated the Hutaree for about 19 months, got probation. He pleaded no contest in Wayne County Circuit Court to discharging a firearm at a building. The felony assault and firearms charges were dropped.

Defense lawyers said that Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worthy gave Murray special treatment at the request of the federal government.

"It's almost unheard of to have a felony firearm charge dismissed," argued Michael Rataj, who is representing Tina Stone, wife of accused Hutaree ringleader David Stone Sr. He said he plans to subpoena Worthy in the federal terror case.

In court, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sheldon Light said he knew of no deal between the U.S. Attorney's Office and Worthy's office to give Murray favorable treatment and would have told the defense about a deal.

Wayne County Assistant Prosecutor Maria Miller, Worthy's spokeswoman, said Light's statement is accurate. She declined to make any further comment.

Murray's credibility came into question after FBI Special Agent Leslie Larsen testified about the role Murray played in helping the FBI investigate the group.

According to Larsen's testimony, Murray attended Hutaree meetings and trainings, and secretly recorded conversations with the members. For his work, he was paid $30,677.

The defense lawyers will cross-examine Larsen today.

The defense has long argued that the defendants were engaged in tough talk and never had any real plans to harm anyone. The prosecution counters it has evidence the defendants were ready to do great harm.