Jury at militia trial watches video of bomb tests

March 22, 2012 - 12:55 PM

DETROIT (AP) — Prosecutors at the trial of seven Michigan militia members displayed pictures and dramatic video of bombs ripping through steel drums and cars Thursday, all demonstrations conducted by agents with explosive parts or diagrams linked to the group.

Defense attorneys days earlier had objected, claiming the images could have an improper "theatrical impact" on the jury. The judge allowed some, noting the tests were substantially similar to explosives at the heart of conspiracy charges against members of the Hutaree group.

The jury heard loud booms and saw close-up photos of the impact of explosives on cars, a 55-gallon steel drum and plastic targets. The drum was ripped, and the cars bore large holes and severe damage under and inside the vehicles.

Members of the militia are charged with conspiring to rebel against the government, conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and weapons crimes. The government says they wanted to kill a police officer, then attack the funeral as part of a domestic war. There was plenty of anti-government talk but no hard evidence of a specific time to strike someone — a key point repeatedly raised by the defense.

Prosecutors were approaching the end of their case Thursday after more than five weeks of trial. Lawyers for the seven defendants, from Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, have suggested they'll need a week to present their side.

The government does not plan to call Joshua Clough of Lenawee County, Mich., as a witness, the only Hutaree member to plead guilty since arrests in March 2010. He pleaded guilty to a firearm charge in December. Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Graveline declined to comment on the matter.

A ninth militia member faces his own separate trial.