Feds: Conewago Twp. gadfly was militia member
Conewago Township gadfly Chad Stoner is expected to be in Harrisburg's federal court next week for a hearing on pretrial motions in his criminal case.
One of those motions states that federal prosecutors intend to argue Stoner was a member of a militia.
His trial was scheduled to begin with jury selection Monday, Oct. 2, but has been continued to Nov. 6, according to online court records. Instead, he will be in federal court Monday morning for the motions hearing.
Davis Younts, Stoner's defense attorney, is asking presiding U.S. Middle District Judge Yvette Kane to bar prosecutors from introducing the militia assertion at trial and also asking that certain statements allegedly made by Stoner be barred from trial.
Stoner, 29, of Copenhaffer Road, has been held in York County Prison since August 2016 and also faces related York County charges.
He was most recently indicted by a federal grand jury in August, for allegedly mailing threatening communications twice from York County Prison.
Joint trial: He and girlfriend Emily Winand, 28, also of Conewago Township, will stand trial together.
"Subsequent to the (original federal) indictment of Stoner and Winand, law enforcement officials learned of the expanded scope of their criminal activity, including mailing threatening communications, possessing additional firearms and ammunition and obstructing justice by concealing and destroying evidence, among other criminal activities," feds wrote in court documents. "Based on this additional evidence, on August 2, 2017, the grand jury returned an eleven-count superseding indictment against both defendants."
Stoner was already indicted in federal court with transmitting an interstate communication containing a threat to injure police officers and Conewago Township officials, conspiracy to commit that offense and being a felon in illegal firearm possession, according to court records.
Superseding indictment: His Aug. 2 superseding indictment added two additional counts of being a felon in illegal possession of a firearm, specifically a Smith & Wesson M&P15 assault-type rifle and .44-caliber Ruger Blackhawk handgun.
The Aug. 2 indictment added counts against Winand for allegedly obstructing justice by hiding the assault-type rifle for Stoner and for allegedly trying to destroy or "corruptly conceal" firearms so they couldn't be seized and used against Stoner in court.
Winand also is accused of aiding and abetting Stoner in obtaining or keeping the assault-type rifle.
Stoner and Winand remain accused of conspiring and agreeing to post a video a year ago on YouTube of Stoner allegedly making threats at the Conewago Township building.
In the video, he suggests the municipality "could turn into Houston" — he meant Dallas — and added, "That's where they shot all them cops."
Stoner's original indictment, filed in December 2016, alleged he possessed three guns despite being a convicted felon prohibited from possessing firearms, and he is still accused of those offenses as well.
He maintains his innocence, according to Younts, who confirmed Stoner is facing a lengthy federal prison sentence if convicted on all charges.
Militia claim 'irrelevant': Younts on Sept. 19 filed a defense motion arguing any mention of Stoner allegedly being affiliated with a militia is irrelevant and should be barred from trial.
"According to the Government, Mr. Stoner was a member of a militia," the motion states. "It is believed the Government will be unable to establish the existence of any formal or informal association, group, club or militia that Mr. Stoner was a part of or with which he was affiliated."
Even if there is evidence that Stoner was affiliated with a militia, its value at trial would be "substantially outweighed by the danger of unfair prejudice," Younts wrote.
The attorney is also asking that prosecutors be barred from introducing statements Stoner apparently made during recorded prison phone conversations.
He argues that the "probative value" of Stoner's "frustration with the system or angst at being incarcerated" risks "unfairly inflaming the passions of the jury and causing the trial to focus on issues other than the guilt or innocence of the accused as to the specific offenses charged."
Talked about shootings: According to the motion, Stoner talked about Trev Jackson, convicted in York County Court of trying to shoot a Northern York County Regional police officer in the face and narrowly missing.
"If Trev's shots would have been two inches more to the left, they would have been having a party," Stoner said. The motion states that when he says "they," he's referring to his fellow prison inmates.
Stoner also complained about the "system" being oppressive, saying, "I can understand why people kill police officers" and "this is why people are killing cops," according to the motion.
He also allegedly said something along the lines of, "I wish all sheriffs, cops and judges would shoot themselves in the face," according to the motion.
In a conversation with his mother, Stoner talked about head-butting former West York Police Chief Justin Seibel.
Township clashes: Stoner clashed with Conewago Township officials for about two years, according to his former defense attorney, Farley Holt.
Northern York County Regional Police said they were called to the township building about 7:15 p.m. Aug. 3, 2016, by supervisor Chairwoman Lorreta Wilhide, who reported that Stoner was causing a disturbance at the meeting.
A video of the encounter, posted on YouTube, shows Stoner began speaking during the public-comment section of the meeting but was stopped and told to speak at the microphone. He refused.
After more back and forth, Stoner said, "Either we can stand here and argue and tie this whole meeting up for your simple, arbitrary and capricious rule, or I can continue on as I was and then I can sit down, and you don't have to deal with me anymore."
Wilhide responded, "OK. Hold up. Just a minute. I'll make a suggestion —" but was cut off by Stoner, who said: "Uh, no. Public comment is not over. You cannot supersede my public comment after the meeting has already started."
WATCH VIDEO OF MEETING CONFRONTATION:
'Jack-booted thugs': When Wilhide responded she believed she could, Stoner took umbrage.
"No you can't," he told her. "I will not allow you to continue on. You better call your jack-booted thugs and have 'em get over here."
Wilhide called police, who responded and arrested Stoner after he refused to walk outside with an officer.
For that encounter, Stoner is charged in York County with disrupting a public meeting and disorderly conduct.
The next day, he and Winand went into the Conewago Township building and spoke with township manager Lou Anne Bostic.
Stoner asked to be placed on the agenda for the next township supervisors meeting regarding "official corruption between the Northern Regionals and Lorreta Wilhide ... and Lorreta Wilhide's clear and present prejudicial attacks that she is taking upon me."
'I have a feeling': He then told Bostic: "I have a feeling — now this is just my personal belief — I think if she continues to act in the way she is, I think Houston, Texas, is gonna turn into Conewago Township."
Stoner, who police said had a handgun and a large sheath knife strapped to him at the time, then said, "That's where they shot all them cops."
WATCH VIDEO OF EXCHANGE AT TOWNSHIP BUILDING:
Officers reviewed security footage from the township building and determined the large revolver in the holster Stoner was wearing "appeared to be a real firearm," documents allege.
Police filed a firearms charge against Stoner alleging he violated the state's concealed-weapons law when he got into his car with the gun on his hip, according to Holt. They also charged him with making terroristic threats.
Lawyer says no threat: Holt previously told The York Dispatch that Stoner never threatened to shoot police.
"He's basically saying unless things change ... bad things are going to happen," the attorney said. "Not that he's going to do bad things."
Holt has said there's a long history between Stoner and the township, and he maintains that Stoner is in jail "for expressing his First Amendment rights — his political free speech."
— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.