A federal judge will not grant a motion by Schaeffer Cox and other alleged members of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia to throw out evidence obtained from multiple searches, which turned up weapons that are key to the prosecution’s case.
In a ruling this week, District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan rejected a motion by Schaeffer Cox and his co-defendants to throw out evidence obtained in two searches, one of defendant Coleman Barney’s home, and another of a trailer in the parking lot of the World Ice Art Championships. Both searches turned up a number of illegal weapons.
Cox, Barney and Lonnie Vernon are charged with weapons violations, including possessing grenades and a grenade launcher. In January, they were indicted on additional charges of plotting to kill government officials and law enforcement officers.
Attorneys for Cox et. al had asked the court throw out evidence obtained from these searches, because the warrants for the searches used evidence from one of the confidential informants in the case, Gerald “JR” Olson, who was a convicted felon trying to get his sentence reduced by informing on the militia.
Cox has argued that Olson’s recordings were made illegally and “analogous to kidnapping,” so should be thrown out. “Since this entire case is the fruit of that unlawful and heinous surveillance, all the evidence obtained by the government must be suppressed,” Cox’s attorney, Nelson Traverso, said.
But prosecutors argued that they were able to use recordings made by Bill Fulton, another informant, to corroborate Olson’s.
The judge agreed: “With the mass of information before him (FBI) Special Agent Westerhaus had to draw some inferences and make some interpretations in preparing the affidavits (to request a search warrant),” said Judge Bryan, Sam Friedman of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports. “His interpretations and inferences were reasonable under the totality of the information and circumstances known to him.”
The trial is set to begin in May.