All six of the Alaska militia members accused of plotting to kill two state troopers and a federal judge appeared together in court for the first time Tuesday, after five of them pleaded not guilty to the charges late last month.
Investigators said in a court filing last week that they have over 130 hours of audio and video recordings, among other evidence, garnered with the help of two confidential informants over a 10-month investigation of the suspects, who were members of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia.
As TPM has reported, Schaeffer Cox, Lonnie and Karen Vernon, Coleman Barney, and Michael O. Anderson were arrested last month for allegedly stockpiling weapons and plotting to kill two state troopers, an IRS agent, and District Judge Robert Beistline, who was presiding over the Vernons’ tax evasion case.
Four of them, excluding Anderson, were also indicted on federal charges.
The plot allegedly evolved after Cox, the leader of the group, skipped a court date for a weapons charge in February, and then turned to the “command staff” of his militia to help him avoid arrest. They all face several state charges for the plot, dubbed “241,” shorthand for the plan to use “twice the force” against law enforcement officials who might have tried bring Cox in.
Rachel Barney, Coleman’s wife, was also arraigned on Tuesday on felony charges for allegedly harboring Cox, then a fugitive. The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports:
Assistant District Attorney Romano Dibenedetto argued Barney should be jailed along with the other five. Although she has not been accused of planning “241,” she is associated with the other five, which includes her husband, he said.
Prosecutors say the Barneys’ North Pole home was used to hide Cox as well as weapons for “241.”
Barney was released with no bail, on the condition that she not discuss the case with the other suspects and not leave the state.
Militia member Ken R. Thesing has also been charged with a misdemeanor in connection with the case for “simulating a legal process,” after he allegedly brought fake documents to a court official related to a fake trial Cox staged for his weapons charge. Cox considers himself a “sovereign citizen,” which means he does not believe in the legitimacy of the court system.
At that “trial”, held in the back room of a Denny’s, Cox was acquitted.