Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Juror Who Refused To Convict Coleman Barney In The Schaeffer Cox Militia Trial Speaks Out

Although the verdict in the Schaeffer Cox militia trial is now part of the record books, the fallout continues. At least Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki announced that he would not re-try Coleman Barney on conspiracy to murder charges after the jury deadlocked on that issue.

But unbeknownst to the general public, one of those jurors has already discussed the trial publicly. The juror, identified only as "dhdriver", was one of those who voted not guilty on Barney, and posted a comment to this Alaska Dispatch story back on June 21st, 2012 (I split it into three paragraphs for readability):

by dhdriver | June 21, 2012 - 9:55pm
...I was one of the jurors on this case, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. I am very conservative politically, and at first was very suspicious and skeptical of the charges. However, I took an oath to keep an open mind and consider all the evidence presented by both sides, following the law, and I can say that I, and my fellow jurors, did just that. People like joe b who have access only to the information provided by the news media take an uninformed position, and no amount of facts will ever sway them. These men made some serious mistakes, and they will pay for them.

During the trial, attended daily by family members of both Cox and Barney, we were constantly reminded of the impact convictions would have on those family members. We agonized over how our decisions were going to affect those wives and kids, and shed tears for them. Those are the people we really felt sorry for, the children who will have to grow up without their fathers' daily presence, love, and attention. But we also felt it important that the defendants not have the chance to deprive other children of their fathers or mothers, something Cox and Vernon planned and prepared to do.

Personally, I truly felt (along with others on the jury)that Coleman Barney would never have killed anybody unless in self-defense or defending his family. The deadlock on his conspiracy to murder charge was the result. The charges that resulted in convictions were proven by the testimony and evidence beyond a reasonable doubt, and I can sleep well with our decisions.

If the juror can sleep well with the decision, that's fine. But there is still some doubt as to whether or not the defendants truly planned to "deprive other children of their fathers or mothers" of their own volition. There is still suspicion that the two informants made it a bigger case than it should have been. What the juror's assessment does show is that Coleman Barney successfully convinced the jury that he was acting as a restraining force on the others, and that Schaeffer Cox could not convince the jury that he merely had defensive intent. It also makes one wonder if Lonnie Vernon could have helped himself by testifying. It is human nature for a jury to be suspicious of someone who doesn't take the stand on his own behalf, even though they are instructed by judges not to attach a bias to such a decision.

According to Mudflats, Barney’s attorney Tim Dooley renewed his contention that the conspiracy to murder charges were retaliatory because they were levied after his client had refused to take a plea bargain of 5-10 years. Dooley, along with Cox's attorney Nelson Traverso, also said their clients are considering appealing the guilty verdicts. For those who want to show their support for Cox, Barney, and Vernon, their mailing addresses at Anchorage Jail are published HERE.

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