The Schaeffer Cox Militia Trial

Update July 20th, 2014: New advocacy website Free Schaeffer Cox. Includes donation portal.

Update December 11th, 2013: Schaeffer Cox is now being held under strict regime at the Communication Management Unit (CMU) in the federal pen in Marion, Illinois. From The Statewide Teleconference Facebook page, we have a mailing address for those who want to write to him:

Francis S. Cox #16179-006
USP Marion
PO Box 1000
Marion, IL 62959

Use this mailing address only for correspondence and parcels shipped via the U.S. Postal Service. Visit this page for information on sending parcels by any source other than USPS.

If you want to send money orders to Schaeffer Cox (for his commissary account), use this address:

Francis S. Cox #16179-006
Post Office Box 474701
Des Moines, Iowa 50947-0001

Inmates' families and friends may also send inmates funds through Western Union's Quick Collect Program.

Update January 8th, 2013: Schaeffer Cox sentenced to 25 years and 10 months in prison. On January 7th, Lonnie Vernon was also sentenced to 25 years and 10 months, while Karen Vernon was sentenced to 12 years in prison.

Update November 2nd: Schaeffer Cox's sentencing date has been changed from November 19th, 2012 to January 7th, 2013 to allow his new attorney time to become familiar with the case.

The trial of Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney, and Lonnie Vernon kicked off at U.S. District Court in Anchorage, Alaska on Monday May 7th, 2012. It's expected to last anywhere from four to six weeks. The three are accused of conspiracy to murder officers and employees of the United States, solicitation to murder an officer of the United States, and carrying firearms and destructive devices during and in relation to a crime of violence (conspiracy to murder). Cox and Barney are also accused of possession of hand grenades, and Cox is accused of possession of a machine gun. Cox and Barney are also accused of possession of other destructive devices and conspiracy to possess silencers and destructive devices.

-- Read the complete 24-page indictment HERE.

I will post brief synopses, along with any pertinent links, to each day's proceedings.

Monday September 24th: Judge Robert Bryan sentenced Coleman Barney to five years in prison, with credit given for time already served. Since he's been incarcerated since March 2011, this means Barney only gets three-and-a-half years additional time. He would be free no later than March 2016, with an earlier release possible for accumulated good time. Post has been re-titled to reflect this new development.

Sunday August 12th: U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan has changed the sentencing date for Schaeffer Cox from September 14th to November 13th. Coleman Barney has also asked that his sentencing be postponed until Lonnie Vernon's change of venue request has been decided.

Friday June 22nd: Prosecutor Steve Skrocki announces he will not re-try Coleman Barney for conspiracy to murder.

Monday June 18th: Jury reaches split verdict on conspiracy to murder charges; Schaeffer Cox and Lonnie Vernon found guilty, but jury hangs on Coleman Barney. See this post for more details.

Friday June 15th: Not an official trial day, but the jury is deliberating today. A comment posted to the News-Miner by Chelsea Barney indicates a development which may be favorable to the defense:

-- This morning we just received word from family in Anchorage of the following:

"The jury returned to the courtroom for clarifications regarding the hornet's nest/grenade launcher combo and the laws that apply to it. There were 3 qualifications that made it a criminal offense, one of those 3 was that a person had to know that the combination put together (rounds with launcher) were illegal. In his testimony Coleman had testified that he did not know that. The prosecution asked the judge to remove the clause and the judge has agreed to do so. We haven't been told what the other two qualification's were."

The defense has emails between the Prosecution and FBI early on in the investigation that they had no grounds to arrest these men on, so they needed to find something/make something up.

Day 23, Thursday June 14th: From Alaska Dispatch, the Anchorage Daily News, and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki spent about an hour delivering the rebuttal to the defense summations presented on June 13th, saying that what jurors heard from defense lawyers was a lot of excuses and attacks on government informants. He says Cox recruited militia members to kill federal agents he thought might be gunning for him. The jury received the case afterwards.

Day 22, Wednesday June 13th: From Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News. The judge led off by spending an hour instructing the jury on the law, its application to the case, and how to conduct their deliberations. Then Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki delivered the closing argument for the prosecution. Skrocki portrayed Cox as a dangerous extremist who had radicalized his beliefs to the brink of bloodshed, and sucked others into the elaborate conspiracy theories he claimed were proof government was fraudulent, corrupt and trying to kill him. Skrocki suggested Cox was motivated by one thing and one thing only: himself. He reminded jurors that the defendants had vowed to reject law and authority and were prepared to kill federal officials, noting that Cox had talked about killing women and children, and beheading judges.

Nelson Traverso delivered the closing argument on behalf of Schaeffer Cox. He asserted that Cox was well within his First Amendment rights of free speech and free assembly in protesting the country's system of government. In addition, Cox's weapons were either legal, or, like his stash of demilitarized, hollowed-out hand grenades, not operational weapons at all.

Tim Dooley delivered the argument on behalf of Coleman Barney. Dooley disputed the prosecution claims that the weapons Barney was charged with possessing were illegal. He also criticized the conduct of the two FBI informants in the case, including one who had committed fraud against a number of Alaskans.

M.J. Haden delivered the argument on behalf of Lonnie Vernon. She portrayed Vernon as a bit player in most of the militia activities, and reminded the jury that at times Vernon appeared on the audio recordings to not understand what Cox was saying. Haden also attacked Cox as a legend in his own mind who turned the militia into a force to solve his personal problems with government instead of focusing upon larger political issues.

Steve Skrocki gets to deliver a rebuttal on Thursday before the case goes to the jury. Because the prosecution's burden of proof is so high in a criminal case -- guilt beyond a reasonable doubt -- it gets to go first and last in making its arguments to the jury.

Day 21, Tuesday June 12th: From Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News, with a more abbreviated story in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The third defendant, Lonnie Vernon, chose not to testify. His defense all along consisted of his attorney M.J. Haden showing that he played only a minor role in the militia and that he didn't belong on trial with Schaeffer Cox and Coleman Barney. To further distance Vernon from the charges, Haden had one of the FBI agents who worked the case testify that Vernon's interest in purchasing a silencer was personal, and not driven by the agendas of the patriot groups to which he belonged.

Gary Kluka, a lawyer and advisor for Fort Wainwright, testified that contrary to Cox's claims, the U.S. Army never offered Cox political asylum, nor had it taken seriously a protective order drawn up by Cox's common law court system which called for the base to protect Cox with an armed security detail and prevent law enforcement from apprehending him.

North Pole resident John Watts, who was with Cox in the Interior Alaska Conservative Coalition, testified that he'd once followed Cox's movement, but when Cox began to intensify his activities outside of the IACC, the group distanced itself from Cox. Watts, an IACC board member, found Cox's repeated references to bloody revolution and government overthrow distasteful. Watts also said he thought that Cox's "playing army in the woods" seemed idiotic.

Aaron Brakefield, another person who joined the Second Amendment Task Force, offered a much different portrait of Cox from a summer day in 2010 when Cox was supposedly terrified for his life, worried that the FBI and others were out to get him. Far from being stressed out, Brakefield said Cox seemed relaxed and congenial during an IACC fundraiser. Cox had approached Brakefield at a table where a vendor was selling grenade bodies, and asked him what it would take to make the grenades operable again. Brakefield said he tolerated Cox's message at first, thinking it was blowhard rhetoric to get them fired up for a cause. But after attending several meetings, Brakefield decided he should separate himself from it. In cross-examination by Cox's attorney, Nelson Traverso, Brakefield said that despite the rhetoric, he never heard Cox threaten immediate revolution, a key point in Cox's First Amendment claim that his speech posed no imminent risk of violence.

Day 20, Monday June 11th: Primarily from Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News, with a lesser story in the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Cross-examination of Coleman Barney continued today, with Steve Skrocki leading the charge. Skrocki questioned Barney on his involvement with Cox and why he had not refuted the 2-4-1 plan, which called for the killing two government representatives for every militia member that was killed. Barney said that ultimately, the 2-4-1 plan was not a go, and also noted that the militia never disbanded because there were not a lot of people to disband.

Alaska Dispatch reports much more. Once again, Barney used his testimony to distance himself from Cox's more extreme pronouncements and measures, again reminding jurors that he had repeatedly asked Cox to tone it down. Skrocki attempted to show jurors that the security details in service to Cox were more than a group of guys exercising their Second Amendment rights to bear arms. He tried to get Barney to admit he'd been given orders by Cox that night to shoot to kill. But Barney clearly stated that opening fire on law enforcement was only intended as a last resort, to be employed only if unidentified people, including undercover agents who failed to identify themselves, showed up and started shooting.

So with Cox and Barney telling slightly different stories, one wonders if the third defendant, Lonnie Vernon, will break the tie. Not likely; it doesn't appear as if Vernon will testify. This means that on Wednesday or Thursday, the prosecution and defense will give their closing statements, and the jury getting the case possibly as early as the close of business on Thursday June 14th.

Judge Robert J. Bryan told attorneys after the jury left for the day to prepare for a relatively arduous process writing jury instructions later this week. Bryan said his long experience with jury instructions -- he's served on judicial committees on the subject in both Washington state and federal judiciary -- tells him this case will be difficult. He didn't explain further, but from opening statements the case has been overlaid with fundamental constitutional questions that the jury will have to sort through -- the First Amendment rights of the defendants to speak freely, and their Second Amendments rights to possess firearms.

Day 19, Thursday June 7th: From the Anchorage Daily News. Coleman Barney resumed his testimony. Asked if he believed Cox's claims that a six-man team of federal assassins was out to kill the militia captain, Barney said he thought it was unlikely, but possible, because of things that have happened in our country in the past. But when Ruby Ridge was mentioned, this triggered an extended sidebar during which the judge temporarily dismissed the jury. The argument was over how much Ruby Ridge could be mentioned in the trial; while prosecutor Steve Skrocki claimed the defense was trying to "bootstrap" Ruby Ridge into the militia trial, the militia members had not previously cited Ruby Ridge as a reason to surround Cox with armed security. In contrast, defense lawyer Tim Dooley said it was the FBI's own informant who can be heard talking about Ruby Ridge on evidence tapes. Finally, Judge Bryan said that he would not allow Ruby Ridge to be re-tried in his courtroom.

As a result, when testimony resumed, Barney was only allowed to say that his understanding of Ruby Ridge, which he learned about through talk shows and conversations at a Second Amendment Task Force meeting, caused him concern.

Alaska Dispatch adds more depth. Barney said he was initially attracted to Cox because they both liked guns and shared similar concerns about America's wobbly financial health. Barney's church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, advises members to prepare for disaster in advance, and previous LDS prophets have spoken of tribulation in the latter days. Cox had taken steps to assure his family's survival if society collapsed; he stored food and household supplies. He kept a few weapons on hand to keep the peace and protect his family should government break down, giving rise to lawlessness.

But Barney felt increasingly uncomfortable with Cox's escalating rhetoric. He said statements about firepower, killing and bloodshed that Cox had made to judges and troopers were too bold, too jarring, risking the credibility of the militia and other like-minded, liberty-pursuing patriots. Barney also said he cautioned Cox to tone things down, because the shocking speech shined a bad light on the entire group. It wasn't the behavior he'd expected from the group of Christian men he'd signed on with to defend families and homes in the event of economic collapse.

Day 18, Wednesday June 6th: From Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News. Schaeffer Cox was back on the stand, being cross-examined by Assistant U.S. Attorney Yvonne Lamoureux. First an audio clip was played, in which Cox can be heard talking with Gerald Olson about the addresses of Alaska State Troopers. Cox, who did not know at the time that Olson was a secret FBI informant, described one of the troopers as the guy we’ve been having problems with. This produced an antagonistic exchange between Lamoureux and Cox in which Cox accused Lamoureux of twisting his words. It appears that Lamoureux was trying to deliberately bait Cox into chimping out on the stand.

Lamoureux got some mileage out of the fact that Cox had never disclosed threats by William Fulton previously. "In all of the public speeches that you've ever made, you've never mentioned your fear that Bill Fulton was going to kill you? In more than 100 hours of recordings you never said Bill Fulton was going to kill you? In your seven-hour interview with (FBI) Agent Sutherland you never said that Bill Fulton was going to kill you," Lamoureux said during her cross examination of Cox. Cox stuck with his story, claiming that Fulton, a private in his militia, was the very person he was speaking about when he made statements to judges, troopers and others that there were people in the community he couldn't control, people who were out for blood and who wouldn't hesitate to launch a violent conflict in defense of Cox and other militia members.

After Cox wrapped up his testimony, Coleman Barney took the stand for the first time, introducing himself as a father of five and an electrician. Barney said he first encountered Cox at a meeting of the Second Amendment Task Force in 2009. He was subsequently invited to and attended a militia training weekend in January 2010, joining several other men for physical fitness tests and early morning runs.

Day 17, Tuesday June 5th: From Alaska Dispatch, the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2. Schaeffer Cox was back on the stand, undergoing cross-examination. His primary objective was to show that he didn't plan to kill anyone, and he cleverly portrayed William Fulton as the real aggressor in the group. Three important points brought out by Cox:

-- One reason he used armed militiamen to stand guard during a 2010 interview or radio appearance was to defend Cox from Fulton. "I was instilled with a very real fear that if I kept trying to pull a Gandhi, Bill Fulton would kill me and blame it on the feds to start a war," he said.

-- Cox said he did not come up with "warrants" to be served on judges, as Fulton testified earlier in the trial. An FBI informant, Fulton told jurors he believed the warrants were intended to be followed by trials and possible executions of judges.

-- The militia was inspired by modern, nonviolent activists, Cox said. "The principled persistence of Martin Luther King, continue with the peaceful forbearance of Gandhi and finish with the constructive forgiveness of Nelson Mandela," Cox said.

In later defense testimony Cox almost broke into tears when he talked about his plans for him and his wife Marti to flee the country, which he called an attempt to avoid becoming a catalyst for violence that other militia members wanted to cause. Cox seemed to do a better job avoiding running off on tangents on the stand today.

Day 16, Monday June 4th: From the Anchorage Daily News and KTUU Channel 2 and Alaska Dispatch. Schaeffer Cox took the stand in his own defense, and told jurors his group was designed to protect rather than attack. When asked by his lawyer, Nelson Traverso, if he believed in the use of violence against the government, Cox answered "Yes and no". Cox followed up by explaining “The only time that the use of force is morally justified is to stop someone from hurting you. The use of violence to protect your family is morally justified. The use of violence to promote your fancies is not...” Cox also said the Alaska Peacemakers Militia had a three-pronged philosophy; first, to undermine social sanctions for heavy-handed law enforcement; second, to establish friendly relations with local officials; and third, to be ready and able to take care of your family if society broke down. Cox did display a tendency to launch into extended political discourses during direct questioning by defense attorneys, but was repeatedly stopped by objections from prosecutors. Cox will continue testifying tomorrow.

Day 15, Thursday May 31st: From Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News. The defense began their case today, and started out by entering a motion to dismiss the case based upon lack of evidence; the motion was denied. They then called Les Zerbe, who was the second-in-command for the Alaska Peacemakers Militia. Zerbe characterized the militia members as a team of serious, concerned men who feared the wounded U.S. economy would collapse, leaving government services in tatters and Fairbanks unprotected. Their desire was to be prepared to provide protection. After prosecutors played a clip showing Zerbe sitting silently in a Fairbanks diner as militia leader Schaeffer Cox threatened to "kill police", Zerbe stated he didn’t recall when and where the interview was filmed.

Zerbe then disclosed that he had William Fulton pegged as a snitch as early as June 2010. He claimed Fulton just showed up on the scene out of the blue, talking big and too boldly to be trusted. Cox had asked Fulton to serve several warrants, and Fulton pushed for information about what the plan would be after the warrants were served. Zerbe told Fulton there was no plan, and Fulton, angered by it, came at him with a knife, assaulting him. Zerbe said he thought Fulton’s aggressiveness was proof that Fulton was trying to instigate a conflict between the militia and government.

William Fulton then took the stand. Fulton revealed that that he first met Scheffer Cox at the 2008 Republican Convention, introduced by U.S. Senate candidate Joe Miller and former Gov. Sarah Palin advisor Frank Bailey during a strategy session the night before the main events of the convention. He said he spent hundreds of hours as an FBI informant. Fulton explained he acted aggressively out of fear for his life and that otherwise his cover might be blown. "I was in a room full of people that would kill me if they knew why I was there. When he questioned my integrity I felt I had moments to deal with it or bad things would happen to me," Fulton testified. Fulton also explained that the warrant Cox wanted served was to arrest judges and other court officials and either try and fine them -- or hang them. Fulton admitted he had a knife but denied any physical confrontation with Zerbe; only words were exchanged. Fulton also revealed that the feds paid him around $39,000 for his services, but claimed he didn't make a profit because he was only reimbursed for expenses, and not for his time. When Fulton was asked if he had been investigated for impersonating an FBI officer, the prosecution successfully deflected that question.

According to the ADN Twitter feed, prosecutors expect Schaeffer Cox to take the stand in his own defense at some point. Also read Mudflats for a more detailed account of Fulton's testimony, and this Mudflats post, which gives a more detailed account of Zerbe's testimony.

Day 14, Wednesday May 30th: Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News have the main stories, although the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner chimes in. FBI Special Agent Richard Sutherland was back on the stand. Sutherland read text messages between Cox and his men, one of them stating “You can only fight tyrants with paper for so long”, and another one stating “I know how to make big bombs, just kill them all and let God sort it out.” But when the defense asked Sutherland if there was any evidence that Cox or his supporters took steps to harm anyone, Sutherland could not provide any examples.

Alaska Dispatch noted that Cox's, Barney's and Vernon's defense lawyers all took turns grilling Sutherland on these points:

-- Had Sutherland ever received information about Cox or the militia actually detonating grenades? Answer: No. Sutherland inferred Cox had experience doing so, but only because of statements Cox had made suggesting as much.

-- Weren’t the informants, not the defendants, the ones pushing so-called murder plots and illegal weapons buys? Answer: No. Sutherland said while admitting he had to remind one of the informants, Gerald Olson, not to get caught up or push too hard in the heat of some conversations. The Daily News reported that Olson, so successful at disguising his undercover role that Cox promoted him to sergeant in the militia, suggested upping the stakes in the "241" plan to "541", meaning "take out five of theirs for one of ours".

-- Hadn't Cox renounced the alleged 2-4-1 murder plan (two federal agents or members of law enforcement kidnapped or killed for every militia member arrested or harmed)? Answer: Not quite, said Sutherland. Cox said the group wasn't yet equipped and ready to pull it off. But he never said he was morally or philosophically opposed to it, even though women and children might be killed while pulling off such a plan.

The prosecution then rested its case. Read Mudflats detailed on-the-scene report HERE.

Day 13, Tuesday May 29th: Primarily from Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News, although the brief Fairbanks Daily News-Miner story is of interest because of the comments appended. The prosecution prepared the jury for their last witness to be called, FBI Special Agent Richard Sutherland, on May 30th. The prosecution walked the jurors through Sutherland's involvement; specifically, his handling of and knowledge of the informants, the speeches delivered by Schaeffer Cox in Montana that initially caught the attention of investigators, and Cox's subsequent arrests and statements boasting of large ranks of men and firepower at the ready, which transformed the investigation from a curious inquiry into an active operation. Throughout the day, prosecutors offered stark reminders that Cox had publicly stated, more than once, that he had people ready, willing and able to kill in service to his beliefs.

Brett Mills, an FBI lab technician, testified that a Sten submachine gun found during a search after the arrests was fully operational on either of its two settings: automatic and repeat, or “A” and “R.” The World War II-era weapon could discharge 30 rounds in about three seconds, a shooting rate captured in a video of the weapon. When the same video was replayed at a quarter of the speed, jurors got a better view of the rapidly discharging shells being expelled as round after round fired from the gun.

The prosecution then played a recording of an Alaska State Trooper who chronicled Cox's outspoken behavior in state court in December of 2010. By then, Cox was on the FBI's radar. They'd opened a full-blown investigation, and had two paid undercover informants on the case. The trooper didn't say whether he knew this.

Day 12, Thursday May 24th: From Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News. Three witnesses who knew the militia members testified.

-- Janice Stewart, Schaeffer Cox's mother-in-law: Disagreed with Cox's anti-government sentiments and increasingly violent rhetoric, saw that Schaeffer could be possessive, and sensed that there'd be trouble, but knew her daughter Marti had made up her mind. Testified that Cox's loss in the House District 7 Republican primary in 2008 seemed to mark the point at which his anger and disillusionment began to escalate. Noted that by November 2010, Cox had become obsessed with the corruption of the government and the need to retake our rights as citizens. Cox seemed particularly unhappy with TSA (who isn't?).

-- Sarah Thompson, who was once married to Coleman Barney's brother Joseph: While living with the Coleman Barney family, saw Coleman change from an ordinary patriotic family man to more of a militia extremist. Said that Coleman had become so impressed with Schaeffer Cox that he became obsessed with Cox's safety. Claimed that it got to the point where Coleman would kill for Schaeffer Cox. Also testified that Cox became more like David Koresh with the passage of time.

-- Trina Beauchamp, the TSA's training specialist in Fairbanks: Described two odd encounters with Cox. He'd come to her last student lunch wearing body armor, which perplexed her. And he'd once called her to find out whether he was on the TSA's “no fly” list. Beauchamp declined to help him obtain that information. If he wanted to find out, he'd have to go to the airport and see whether he was allowed to board a plane. When the prosecutor asked her to identify notes scrawled on a yellow legal pad that were displayed on a projector for the jury to view, she saw her name on what was identified as a hit list, and had to compose herself before continuing, reaching for a tissue to wipe away tears. This triggered a reaction from Schaeffer Cox at the defense table, who suddenly blurted out in a quavering voice, "I love you, and I would never hurt you."

Mudflats also posted a detailed account of the day's activities, including the transcript of one of the exchanges.

Day 11, Wednesday May 23rd: From Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News. Gerald Olson was on the stand once again, starting by admitting his personal criminal history. He was a Hells Angels prospect who hauled drugs into Alaska for them for 17 months, pulling in as much as $170,000. Later he was charged with the subsequent felonies for cheating as a contractor and for stealing a mini front-end loader. He also admitted he was prepared to ask the FBI to pay him as much as $300,000 for snitching.

Olson then described his role in the March 11th takedown of Cox, Barney, and Vernon. He had been the go-between in negotiating the purchase of three silencer-equipped pistols and four hand grenades for the militia members. First, Olson went to the hotel room of Anchorage weapons dealer William Fulton, who had the pistols, silencers and grenades the men sought. The FBI encouraged Olson to try to convince Fulton to give over the weapons without getting paid until after the deal went down. It was only later that Olson learned that Fulton was the other snitch.

Olson then picked up the Vernons and drove them to the warehouse. He picked up the guns and grenades from a pack stashed beneath a trailer and brought them back to his truck. The price was $600 for the guns and $150 for the grenades. Then the FBI swooped in and grabbed the Vernons. Olson returned to his truck, bringing Cox and Barney to the South Turner Street weapons rendezvous spot. The two were unhappy when they learned that the pistols were .22 caliber instead of the 9mm they were seeking, but agreed with Olson they'd be effective at close range. Then the FBI swooped in and arrested Cox and Barney without incident.

The defense attorneys raised other questions about the timing of equipment malfunctions that prevented Olson's secret recording devices from at times working, implying that Olson was an agent saboteur who kept pushing Cox to come up with a plan of resistance against the government, and someone who fanned the flames, especially in promoting the murder plot that had come to be known as “2-4-1,” two government officials taken or killed for every militia member arrested or harmed. Olson denied it and said his handler reminded him several times not to instigate or provoke.

Day 10, Tuesday May 22nd: From Alaska Dispatch and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Primary informant Gerald Olson was back on the stand as the prosecution played additional audio tapes for the jury. Cox was taped saying at a meeting with militia members that two court administrators needed to "dangle together like a wind chime." Olson said Cox fluttered his fingers as he said this at the meeting, which took place two days before Cox was a no-show at state court to begin a weapons misconduct trial. When Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki asked Olson if anyone at the meeting said Cox's comment about the two court officials was a bad idea, he responded negatively.

Alaska Dispatch offers much more detail, characterizing today's testimony as the "birth of a murder plot". Olson, working for the feds, secretly recorded the entire February 12th discussion. Cox was planning to miss a minor court appearance to wrap up a misdemeanor weapons case against him. He knew, as a result, he was likely to become a fugitive and was growing increasingly worried about the law enforcement hit squad he imagined was after him. At first, Cox proposed a one-for-one plan. Olson later upped the ante, suggesting it should be five-for-one. Cox then down-scaled the idea and settled on two-for-one. Barney feared their militia group wasn't strong enough to pull off the plan yet. Thesing had similar concerns, believing it was just but urging Cox and the others to wait until they had more back up.

Olson also testified that the men reasoned they'd have little trouble killing men. But Barney and Olson were hesitant to take the lives of women and children. Cox said he wouldn't target women and children, but he wasn't opposed to seeing them die if it was the result of a justified conflict. Killing and other shocking stuff was palatable, he reasoned, if it was in service of protecting one's family, liberty and law.

Day 9, Monday May 21st: Only from Alaska Dispatch, so far. Jurors started out by listening to audio clips of an August 2010 commissioning ceremony Schaeffer Cox held to induct Gerald Olson and other recruits into the Alaska Peacemakers Militia. Jurors heard Cox delivering his “duty to disobey” corrupt or unjust laws speech and spoke of federal “goons on the ground” he believed had been sent in to assassinate him and his family -- or haul him into a secret court. Cox also said that if federal agents or law enforcement tried to put their hands on him or any militia members after being told not to do so, it would be at their own peril.

The Anchorage Daily News discussed Gerald Olson's testimony. Olson's journey to protected federal witness was winding and troubled. It took more than an hour for him to explain his background to the jury under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki, who pointed out Olson's flaws long before defense attorneys will have a their chance in cross examination. It wasn't until he was caught by Alaska State Troopers after stealing a small front-end loader that he offered to work undercover in return for leniency, helping troopers and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency bust drug dealers and trying unsuccessfully to catch a crooked customs agent in Tok who was letting drug shipments through the border. In 2010, he offered to shift his attention to Cox, who was in the news in Fairbanks for his militia activities.

Day 8, Thursday May 17th: From Alaska Dispatch and the Anchorage Daily News. Prosecutors called three primary witnesses to challenge the notion that the militia members were peaceful and acting strictly in a defensive mode.

-- U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agent Annette Curtis testified that she was at a local Walmart in uniform when she encountered Schaeffer Cox. She said Cox approached her and told her he didn't like to see a lot of feds in Fairbanks but he'd make an exception for her because she worked for customs. Cox impressed her as being aggressive and confrontational.

-- Alaska State Trooper Lt. Ronald Wall then testified. Wall has known Cox since 1998, and said Cox came over to his house uninvited in June 2010. According to Wall, Cox explained that he was worried about a situation with his son and the Office of Children's Services, which was attempting to do a routine welfare check on the boy following Cox's involvement in a domestic violence case. Cox wanted them nowhere near his son. In airing his concerns, Cox revealed what Wall considered to be threats of violence, speaking of how he was worried that fellow militia members would hurt troopers, judges or members of their families if something happened to Cox or his family. He said he couldn't control his men and that he'd hate to see anyone get hurt. Wall took it as an implied, veiled threat, and told Cox he'd hold him personally accountable if anything happened to any members of law enforcement.

-- Kevin Fansler, a truck driver who lives on the KJNP property in North Pole with his wife and five children, said he thought something was amiss when he saw a four-wheeler patrolling the grounds with a bright light. Then his oldest son warned that there was a man behind the house with a gun. Fansler stepped outside, set off his motion lights to illuminate the area, and asked the gunman if he could help him. "He responded by saying that they were patrolling the area and protecting Mr. Cox," Fansler said. "I said I didn't know him and he was standing behind my home with a gun." Cox's television interview ended a short time later and the men left, so Fansler never did call the cops.

Prosecutors also showed the jury clips of the interview on KNJP's “Closing Comments” show. Jurors watched as Cox spoke of a plot by out-of-state federal agents to kick in his door and take his baby. Cox said the plot was a ruse to provoke him to violence, giving authorities from the wicked state a rationale for shooting him, his wife and his child. As he talked, the team of armed militia members of whom Fansler spoke patrolled the parking lot, tasked with protecting Cox from the supposed federal threat. On the show, Cox explained how he and his men could have had the federal agents killed within 20 minutes of giving the order, but refrained because he considered them people, too.

Read Mudflats detailed account HERE.

Day 7, Wednesday May 16th: From the Anchorage Daily News and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Two associates of Schaeffer Cox gave testimony, Philip Clark and Gary Brockman. Clark started out with Cox when Cox created the Second Amendment Task Force. Then Cox decided to create a decentralized defense group which was to be called the Sons of Gad. Clark strongly supported Cox's idea of using jury nullification to refuse to convict on gun cases. But Clark distanced himself when Cox decided to set up the more rigid Alaska Peacemakers Militia; Clark testified that Cox had become a "power-hungry Napoleon" at that point. Clark also testified that when Cox went on a speaking tour of the Lower 48 in 2009, when he bragged in Montana that he commanded a 3,500-member militia, there was actually no militia at that time.

Gary Brockman is still loyal to Cox, and described himself as a sergeant in the militia. Brockman was part of the security team who set out to protect "Col. Cox" when he gave an interview in November 2010 at KJNP in North Pole. When a woman employee drove into the parking lot, she was startled when Brockman, waving an assault rifle and wearing a pistol, demanded she provide ID. She did, but wasn't happy about it, Brockman said. Brockman also testified that had federal agents arrived, he and another militia member would have tried to keep them in their car. But he conceded that if the Feds had gotten the drop on him, he would have laid down his arms.

Day 6, Tuesday May 15th: From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner and Alaska Dispatch. Michael Anderson, who was rolled over by the Feds, testified today. Anderson said he first met Schaeffer Cox in 2008 and that the two were friends and spent a summer doing construction and yard work together. He said the two of them had in common an interest in preparing themselves for the collapse of the infrastructure. He said was not interest in joining Cox's militia, which he considered "narcissistic".

Anderson testified that he began compiling information on potential enforcers in 2010, including the home addresses of some government officials, and storing it on a hard drive. The list included a few Alaska state troopers, a few Fairbanks police, and an OCS worker who was giving Schaeffer Cox problems. Anderson said that he was partly driven to create the database by his own anger with the government -- he mentioned a traffic stop where he was pulled over for an expired license plate, only to have his car towed while he was left to fend for himself in -30F weather. On cross-examination by the defense, Anderson admitted that none of the information he gathered ever led to any acts or threats of violence.

A separate comment posted to the Alaska Dispatch by a court-watcher indicates that Michael Anderson also portrayed informant William Fulton as a provocateur who tried to bully the militia leadership into illegal activity.

Day 5, Monday May 14th: From the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Evidence seized from a fourth member of the militia who was not arrested was presented. There was a search of four school buses lived in by Ken Thesing. It yielded similar materials as searches of the defendants homes, including semi-automatic weapons, body armor and paperwork related to the Peacemakers militia. There was also a search of Thesing's home, which yielded an iPhone with lists related to the Peacemakers, according to a trooper electronic evidence expert. One list, last modified in the fall of 2010, was vaguely identified as a list of ideas to do. Prosecutors say it is important to the case because Thesing hosted a militia meeting where the defendants discussed a “two for one” (or “2-4-1”) retaliatory strategy

Prosecutors also presented a redacted form of several “goodbye letters” written by Lonnie Vernon to Gerald Olsen. The letters instructed Olsen mail them if both Vernon and his wife died. One letter, signed by both Vernons, tells the recipient that they are receiving the letter because the Vernons died in combat, fighting federal troops trying to take their land.

Day 4, Thursday May 10th: From Alaska Dispatch and the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Jurors received the transcript binders for 100 hours of recordings and were asked to listen to a short sample of the recordings which came from a public speech Cox gave in November 2009 at a VFW hall in northwest Montana. Prosecutors also brought forward a newspaper reporter from the town of Plains, Mont., who testified he had been covering the event, and identified Cox as the speaker. Cox had bragged about the numerical strength, occupational diversity, and firepower of his militia, and asked gun owners to join him in disobeying gun registration laws so that there will be too many violators to be prosecuted without crashing the system.

However, the real "star" of Day Four was Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (BATFE) agent Phil Whitley, who was brought to Alaska to aid in the searches the day Cox and his associates were arrested in the Fairbanks area in March 2011. His premise was that although no live grenades were found, the objects and items discovered could still be considered destructive devices. He testified that the law defining a destructive device allows for discretionary interpretation; with some items like automatic machine guns, rockets, missiles and poison gas falling within its scope. But he acknowledged that there is no exact list, explaining that in deciding whether to categorize a device as destructive, context is everything. An example of "context" would be the grenade bodies, a squeeze tube welding kit, shotgun powder, and grenade fuses found inside the trailer owned by Coleman Barney. Separately, the items are not illegal, but because they were found together, that changes how investigators allege the militia members intended to use them.

Day 3, Wednesday May 9th: From the Anchorage Daily News and Alaska Dispatch. Day 3 featured the introduction of seized guns, ammunition and documents, some brought into the federal courthouse, others shown by way of photographs on a big screen. FBI agent Jolene Goeden showed photographs of thousands of rounds of ammunition seized in March 2011 from a large white trailer owned by Barney that was found parked at a Fairbanks ice park after the three men were arrested. The trailer also held a sniper rifle, a tripod-mounted semiautomatic rifle, an M-16 assault rifle and grenade launchers. None of the weapons showcased today was specifically identified as illegal to own or purchase, a point defense attorneys were quick to raise in their cross examinations. Goeden also showed another copy of the 17 "Acts of War" that was found in the trailer. By the end of the day prosecutors had begun to show jurors state court filings in which Cox sternly rejected the authority of Alaska's courts and personnel and declared his status as a sovereign citizen, a "natural man."

Read the Mudflats summary of Day Three.

Day 2, Tuesday May 8th: References include Alaska Dispatch (the most comprehensive report), the Anchorage Daily News, the Fairbanks News-Miner, and numerous Tweets by KTVA reporter Bill McAllister. This summary combines the highlights from all four sources. Both sides delivered their opening statements today.

-- Assistant U.S. Attorney Yvonne Lamoureux delivered the prosecution statement. She listed the weapons and weapon components seized from the three men, then told the jury that they were trying to get more weapons and were preparing to kill officers and employees of the United States. Then she announced that one of Cox's former cohorts, Michael Anderson, had been turned and given immunity; in exchange, Anderson will be one of the 70 witnesses to be called by the prosecution. Anderson will testify he did surveillance on law enforcement, which prosecutors claim was a precursor to their possible murder.

-- Nelson Traverso delivered the statement on behalf of Schaeffer Cox. He portrayed Cox as a young, idealistic man who may have railed against the government and who challenged authority, but armed himself out of defense, not aggression. Traverso also noted that Cox had reason to fear the government because an airport policeman and a military policeman had told him that law enforcement was watching him closely.

-- Tim Dooley delivered the statement on behalf of Coleman Barney. He noted that Barney is a devout Mormon who believed the end was at hand and sought arms and associated with militia members in case the infrastructure collapsed and chaos ensued. Dooley also noted that most of the weapons Barney is charged with possessing or attempting to acquire were disabled or not technically destructive devices regulated by federal law. Dooley added that evidence will show the militia made plans to kill but only in self defense, because they had reason to believe a group of government assassins had been sent to kill Cox. But Dooley was censored by the judge when he attempted to discuss Ruby Ridge.

[Ed. Note:] While the LDS Church's senior leaders do not currently preach that the end is imminent, many of the earlier leaders foresaw an outbreak of tribulation in our country; in 1844, Joseph Smith predicted the advent of a third major political party in the United States as well as a physical invasion of the U.S. by foreign powers. The specific phrase he used was "the United States will spend its strength and means warring in foreign lands...", which is a perfect description of our foreign policy since 1989. It is this type of rhetoric that may have influenced Barney.

-- M.J. Haden delivered the statement on behalf of Lonnie Vernon. She described Haden as a blowhard who exaggerated his role and influence in the militia organization, characterizing him as little more than a warm body.

After the opening statements, another member of the prosecution team, Steven Skrocki, called their first witness, FBI agent Michael Thoreson, who oversaw the arrests of Lonnie and Karen Vernon, Schaeffer Cox, and Coleman Barney in Fairbanks in March 2011. Afterwards, prosecutors entered inert grenades, 22 caliber hand guns equipped with silencers and extra clips into evidence, saying these were the weapons the militia members had allegedly attempted to buy from informant Gerald Olson when they were arrested.

Read the Mudflats summary of Day Two.

Day 1, Monday May 7th: The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports that a pool of 88 prospective jurors was whittled down.. Twelve jurors were excluded because they either believed they were too biased or, in a few cases, because they knew one of the parties in the case or because of problems understanding English. At least three-fourths of the jurors had heard about the case. In addition, the prosecution did not include the second snitch, William Fulton, on their list of witnesses, which means they don't plan to call on him to testify. However, the prosecution will make Fulton available if the defense wants to call him.

Alaska Dispatch has the most comprehensive story. They report that the jury pool was whittled down to 16 people, nine women and seven men. They state jurors will be asked to decide if investigators targeted the men fairly and whether undercover informants who gained the group's trust and infiltrated its inner circle are themselves trustworthy. They will be asked to decide whether the weapons the men had -- machine guns, grenades and launchers, and semi-automatic pistols -- were in fact illegal or could be used in the manner the government claims. Opening statement will begin on Tuesday May 8th.

Jeanne Devon is attending the trial and has posted a detailed summary of Day One on Mudflats. Very descriptive and, despite her progressive politics, relatively balanced.

Background Posts: Here are links to previous key posts about this case:

-- "Michael Anderson's Testimony During Day Six Of Schaeffer Cox Militia Trial Portrays Informant William Fulton As A Provocateur Pushing For Illegal Activity", Wednesday May 16th: Michael Anderson portrays informant William Fulton as a provocateur who tried to bully the militia leadership into illegal activity.

-- "Feds Roll Michael Anderson Over, Make Him A Prosecution Witness At The Schaeffer Cox Militia Trial; Feds Spent $60,000 Protecting Supersnitch Gerald Olsen", Tuesday May 8th, 2012: Anderson was one of the original defendants who was never charged at the federal level has been rolled over by the Feds. He had been subjected to heavy pressure by the Feds, and was even briefly arrested as a material witness. Anderson was earlier jailed for eight months awaiting trial on state-related murder conspiracy charges that were later dismissed.

-- "Schaeffer Cox Militia Trial Begins In Anchorage, Alaska On May 7th; Acquittal On Conspiracy Charges A Distinct Possibility", Sunday May 6th, 2012: Discusses some of the pre-trial maneuvering and lists the charges against the Schaeffer Cox Trio.

-- "Similarities Between The Hutaree Militia Case In Michigan And The Schaeffer Cox Case In Alaska", February 13th, 2012: Discusses the similarities between the Hutaree case and this case. The Hutaree Militia folks were acquitted by the judge before the case could even get to a jury. Jurors who spoke out after the fact indicated they would have acquitted on conspiracy but possibly convicted on weapons.

-- "Schaeffer Cox Case Informant Gerald Olson Gets Lighter Sentence In Septic Tank Fraud Case Due To His Cooperation", July 25th, 2012: The story behind the primary snitch, Gerald Olson. Because he rolled over and became a Federal snitch, he was sentenced by the State of Alaska to only time served despite multiple instances of defrauding septic customers.


  1. i give you my life and my sons hang in there

  2. I have read the entire indictment against Cox and others.......... A few issues with it come to mind:

    Nowhere did it identify any act that injured another.

    i suspect the UN-named UN-indicted co conspirator(s) were agents of gov in place to manipulate and or entrap cox and that eventually testified against cox at trial....... (remember this for a later comment)

    an enactment or rule that is not in pursuance with the constitutional mandate upon gov agents CAN NOT be LAW (rule of law) they can only be public policy enforceable by the point of a gun but not according to the rule of law. (see your citizens rule book page 7 "law of the land". All US codes cited in the indictment appear to fail this test in that cox and others have a right secured by the constitution to own property and keep and bear arms and all gov agents are mandated by that rule of law to secure that right to them.

    Due Process........ is not alterable by legislative enactment or court rule/ruling.

    One important due process right is that no gov action or agent can cause the the court of a free man to be lost. what that means is that the choices available to a free man in association with their right to own their body, mind and justly acquired material property are the exclusive province of the owner and no appeal from that owners choice can be brought without first the owner using that choice to injure another............. again....... who did cox injure? the US codes cited appear to cause cox to lose his court and as such are a denial of due process as comprehended by the constitution and a battery upon cox himself. (the broken judiciary, the ADL militia watchdog and the southern poverty law center opinions notwithstanding)

    those that are trying to help cox need to listen to what i have said here and understand fully the principles herein stated. for if they do i can not imagine any contemporary American court being competent to convict cox of these public policy charges and at the same time provide mandatory due process of law.

    i am sure there are numerous other due process failures

    during cox's run i followed him closely.......... i cant see him doing anything other than attempting to provide a strong defense for himself and his following. It appears to me that the Fed didn't like what cox was saying and doing and has conspired to take cox down.......... which is what cox was in fear of............ btw........ he is in fed prison right?........... hmmmmm. maybe cox wasn't dilusional after all. maybe the doctor was paid to do a stalin like assessment.

    BTW an appeal can be taken at any time for denial of due process.


  3. FYI

  4. I met Mr. Cox at his home, did an interview with him and one of his friends. We talked for an hour and a half. There was no talk of violence, in fact, Mr. Cox advocated violence as the last resort in case tyranny got out of hand. Tyranny attempted to force his hand and failed...miserably. Mr. Cox and other politically held prisoners are innocent of any wrong doing. A brother up north.

  5. Why is my 91 year old Aunt receiving a 12 page letter from Francis Schaeffer Cox who is in a U.S. Penitentiary asking for money? She receives at least 8 SCAM letters a day, people begging her for money. If Francis is innocent I would expect the NRA to cover his costs.

  6. Found this page researching the fundraising letter for Cox' legal fees.
    Sounds like the lesson is that if you are going to start a militia, don't make threats and don't buy weapons illegally.