Monday, January 23, 2012

Federal Grand Jury Returns Superseding Indictment Against Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney And Lonnie Vernon, Includes Murder Conspiracy Charges

For the third time, a federal grand jury has returned an indictment against Alaska Peacemaker Militia members Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney, and Lonnie Vernon. The superseding indictment returned before U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan in Anchorage on January 23rd, 2012 now adds murder conspiracy charges to the preceding indictment, with a possible maximum sentence of life in prison. As a result, the original trial date of February 6th has been pushed forward to May 7th. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner published the most informative story, but the Alaska Dispatch adds some additional details about the arguments in the courtroom.

Karen Vernon is not named in the new indictment, but she remains jailed on separate federal charges of threatening a federal judge, his family and an IRS employee. Likewise, Michael Anderson was not re-indicted; he was taken into custody as a material witness on December 6th, 2011, but was released on December 13th. It is believed the feds are trying to pressure Anderson to become the third snitch in the case, joining Gerald Olson and William Fulton.

-- Read the complete 24-page indictment HERE.

The murder conspiracy charges are reflected in Counts 12-16 of the new indictment:

-- Count 12: Alleges that Cox, Barney, and Vernon did knowingly, willfully, and
unlawfully conspire and agree together and with other persons known and unknown to the grand jury to kill, with premeditation and malice aforethought, officers and employees of the United States, including law enforcement officers.

-- Count 13: Alleges that Coleman Barney did knowingly carry a firearm, specifically a semiautomatic assault rifle, a ParaUSA AR-15 .223 rifle, during and in relation to a crime of violence, that is, conspiracy to murder.

-- Count 14: Alleges that Lonnie Vernon did knowingly carry a firearm, specifically a semiautomatic assault rifle, a Sig Arms .223 rifle, during and in relation to a crime of violence, that is, conspiracy to murder.

-- Count 15: Alleges that Schaeffer Cox did knowingly carry a firearm, specifically a handgun, during and in relation to a crime of violence, that is, conspiracy to murder (the type of handgun was not specified).

-- Count 16: In summary, alleges that all three defendants engaged in solicitation to murder an officer of the United States, and implies that Cox was the ringleader.

The new indictment also includes seven criminal forfeiture allegations in which the federal government is requesting that weapons found be permanently forfeited to the federal government.

Of interest is the appearance of the phrase "and others known and unknown to the grand jury" repeatedly found in certain parts of the indictment. While this phrase may be used to cover the activities of the snitches involved in the case, it may also imply the feds could be considering charges against other people, it may also be the reason why Alaska Citizens Militia leader Norm Olson expressed concern on January 11th about the possibility that federal snitch Gerald Olson may be trying to rope him into the case. Olson supports Cox in principle 100 percent but denies ever urging Cox or his cohorts to break the law.

During the hearing, all three defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges. Two strategems by the defense team to derail the indictment, challenging the constitutionality of referring to grenade launchers and canisters loaded with bullets as "destructive devices", and claiming the Gerald Olson had effectively "kidnapped" Cox in the weeks leading up to his arrest, were rejected by Judge Bryan. But this simply illustrates the expertise of Cox's defense team; they leave no stone unturned.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that at least 12 supporters of Schaeffer Cox and his cohorts had come down from Fairbanks and were present in the courtroom, along with the wives of all three defendants, Marti Cox and Rachel Barney in the audience, and Karen Vernon in the dock in a prisoner jumpsuit.

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