Cox reportedly gave a tearful 10-minute soliloquy during his sentencing as supporters wept quietly in the packed courtroom; he apologized to family and friends, saying that he was acting out of fear before his arrest in March 2011, and it only got worse the more scared he became. In addition, Cox's attorney Peter Camiel argued that paranoid schizophrenia, delusional personality disorder and paranoid personality disorder had clouded Cox's sense of reality. Alaska Dispatch reports that Judge Bryan gave Cox credit for the 22 months he's served since his March 2011 arrest in determining the length of the sentence. Since there is no parole in the federal system, the minimum that Cox would serve, assuming he qualified for the maximum amount of good time possible, would be around 270 months (22 1/2 years).
The case also raised issues of free speech, but the judge was clear: Cox's was not a case of free speech but of criminal acts. Neither Cox nor his followers were accused of actually harming other people – at least not physically. But they did speak about their willingness to kill in service to Cox's world view, or to prevent his capture. And they took steps to arm themselves for bloody confrontation and develop plans by which to carry out their resistance. They made provocative statements perceived as threatening to judges, law enforcement and other federal employees.
Just 24 hours prior on January 7th, Judge Bryan sentenced 57-year-old Lonnie Vernon to a total of 310 months (25 years and 10 months) in federal prison. In August 2012, Vernon and his wife Karen pleaded guilty in a package deal not only to charges of conspiracy to murder federal officials and stockpiling weapons such as silencers and grenades, but also to planning to kill a federal judge and an Internal Revenue Service officer in a property tax dispute. Prosecutors agreed to concurrent rather than consecutive sentences in exchange, but still proposed a sentencing range of 21 to 27 years in prison. Vernon's attorney had asked for a sentence of 262 months (21 years and 10 months). During the sentencing, Lonnie Vernon showed he was still a true believer in his cause, asserting his sovereign rights, and asking marshals to arrest the prosecutors. Vernon claimed the case was "scripted up" by the FBI and other federal authorities, and his outbursts at times include tirades against U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the Internal Revenue Service, ATF agents and even his own public defenders. He asserted his innocence, at one point saying he and his family hadn't harmed anyone.
If Lonnie Vernon accrues the maximum amount of good time while in prison, he would serve around 270 months (22 1/2 years) of his sentence. Because he would be near 80 years old when he is released at the earliest, it could end up being the equivalent of a life sentence. Lonnie Vernon also got considerable support in the comments to the News-Miner story; some believe the Anchorage jury was biased and questioned whether a Fairbanks jury would have convicted Lonnie and his wife. Alaska Dispatch also published a good narrative write-up of the sentencing, and Mudflats editor Jeanne Devon was present in the courtroom and offers a detailed play-by-play.
On the same day, Judge Bryan also sentenced 67-year-old Karen Vernon to 12 years in prison on the same charges. Prosecutors had recommended 15 years, while Karen's attorney has asked for only a five-year sentence because she was influenced in the plot to kill officials by her husband, but otherwise hadn't even had a traffic ticket in her life. Karen Vernon apologized and said her words and actions were not intended to harm anyone. If Karen Vernon accrues the maximum amount of good time possible while in prison, she would serve around 10 years and 5 months.
The other militia member, Coleman Barney, was convicted in June 2012 on the weapons charges but acquitted of the more serious charge of conspiracy to commit murder. Judge Bryan sentenced Barney in September to five years in prison, but since he credited Barney with the time he had served since March 2011, Barney would be free no later than March 2016, with an earlier release possible for accumulated good time.
Thus ends the saga of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia. For a group of people who never actually carried out any of their threats, they were punished quite harshly. While the comments section of the Anchorage Daily News was invaded by progressive scum who want to lock Vernon up and throw away the key, one patriot posted the following message of support for Vernon:
bigfoot574 January 7th 8:23 P.M.
To see the difference in Fairbanks and Anchorage all a person has to do is read the comments on the Vernon stories at the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner then read them here. Of course I presume that more people from southcentral than the interior post here. The comments here are for the most part are grossly in favor of harsh treatment for the Vernon’s while the comments at the News Miner reveal a sense of decency.
I still maintain that the Vernon's and Cox did not get a fair trial in Anchorage. They should have been tried in the Fairbanks Federal Court House and the jurors should have been selected from the Interior region of Alaska. We have more backbone in the Interior and aren't afraid to stand up to the Federal Bullying that has been going on for a very long time. This whole case reeks with Federal Bullying. The hiring of a person from Anchorage, William Fulton, to infiltrate and spy on the Alaska Militia is really stooping low, I would say. But it is nothing new for the federal prosecutors in Anchorag. They “hired” Bill Allen to get Senator Stevens then moved the trial to Washington DC where an almost all black jury and judge convicted him. Bill Allen then was allowed to sell VECO for $330 million and give all the money to his wife and kids. It makes a person of decency want to puke!
No wonder the Vernon's and Cox don't trust the US federal government.
However, one commenter to this other News-Miner story reminded us that the "Anchorage" jury represented other parts of Alaska as well, so the Anchorage vs. Fairbanks spin only has limited applicability:
alaskanav8r posted at 9:43 am on Tue, Jan 8, 2013:
Members of the jury were from Homer, King Salmon, Valdez, Palmer, Wasilla, as well as Anchorage. These folks weren't convicted for a thing they said, they were convicted for all the things they DID about what they said. They compiled a list of "enemies", among them TSA agents who did nothing to any of them personally, amassed an arsenal of weapons (many of which were illegal), and made contingency plans to carry out mayhem. Would you rather law enforcement waited until they actually did kill somebody? I am absolutely convinced that two of these defendants would have, under the right (wrong?) circumstances murdered somebody eventually if they had not been stopped.
Bigfoot574's original premise has some merit. Fairbanks is a more traditionally American city than Anchorage, which is slowly evolving into a typical globalist multicultural cesspool. But Anchorage hasn't completely surrendered to multiculturalism yet; we still have a conservative mayor in Dan Sullivan and an Assembly which leans right-of-center. We also have an explicitly conservative school board member in Don Smith, and unlike predominantly Mormon Salt Lake City, we did reject a gay nondiscrimination ordinance in 2012. So Anchorage is a long way from becoming the San Francisco of the Arctic.