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July 26, 2017

Militia Trial: Armed Guards & Being Followed

Witness Victoria Thompson enters the court room wearing a long bright red cable-knit cardigan sweater. She is the News director for KJNP radio/TV in North Pole and she says she lives “on the KJNP compound.” KJNP stands for ‘King Jesus North Pole.’ The radio station has a gospel music format. She seems unhappy to be here. She doesn’t turn her head to face the prosecutor, but looks sideways while facing straight ahead. She is 72 years old and has been “in the news business” since she was 15.

The prosecutor asks her if her allergies are bothering her. She says they are, and is a bit sniffly, but I don’t think that fully accounts for her irritability. She knows Schaeffer Cox because she covers events in the community, and because he has appeared on a program called “Over the Coffee Cup” and another called “Closing Comments.”   She’s been to a couple meetings of the 2nd Amendment Task Force, but isn’t an official member. She just wanted to hear Cox speak about the second amendment.

The reason she’s here is to speak of an incident that happened on November 23 of 2010. She started the day at 3am as she always does. She left during the morning for a committee meeting of the ‘Christmas in Ice’ committee, which organizes the annual and world-famous ice carving competition and winter festival at the Ice Park in Fairbanks. She has also been on the City Council, is the outreach director for her church, belongs to the Chamber of Commerce, and is active with senior citizens.

She is asked to describe what happened when she got home to the radio station compound.

“When we got close to the building, it was completely lit up. There were lights all over the parking lot. Andn there was a man with a gun who stopped us.”

A slide is shown of the KJNP studio, which looks like a little log cabin with a smallish parking lot. The lights were down where the three cars are on the left, all the way to the station. It lit up the whole area. The man with the gun was on the left. I was terrified because I had no idea what was going on, and my sister was in that building, and I had no idea whether she was dead or alive.” She seems like she is suppressing anger, but is assertive and matter-of-fact. She answers yes or no questions from the prosecution rapid fire, and almost steps on the end of the question with her answer.

“He asked us where we were going and what I was doing here. I said, “I’m going home, what are you doing here?”  She was defiant in the way that irritated old ladies are defiant.

Prosecutor Steve Skrocki asked about who the man was, and what he was wearing.

“I didn’t pay much attention to him, I was wanting to get inside and see if my sister was OK. I could not identify him. He had a rifle of some kind. It was dark and I had lights in my face. He said he was there to protect Schaeffer. I thought that was the most ridiculous thing I’d ever heard.”

“We drove into the driveway of the chapel. I decided to go into the station to see what was going on. My sister was working technical so I didn’t see her. Schaeffer was on the air already. The young man running the show told me everything was OK. I went back to check on Liz and then I went home to get to bed. The lights were still there, and the man with the gun was still there.

“I was tired and very angry because I was so scared when I came up there. I didn’t sleep much that night. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got!  In the morning, I called the Troopers. I wanted to see if I could put Schaeffer away… somewhere.” She was clearly still angry at the incident.

“He was on our Over the Coffee Cup program the next week, or the week after and I let him know I was very angry at what he did. He wanted to apologize, and know how he could make it good, but there was no way he could make that good.”

The US calls Julie Beaver to the stand.

She manages the television department, acts as the program director, and sets up guests for their live program called Closing Comments. She’s been at KJNP for 31 years.

Dick Olson is a staff member of KJNP and the guest host of Closing Comments. Cox was going to appear on the show and she asks guests to be there at 8:30pm. She noticed that there were a bunch of lights on outside the station. She slowed down and parked, got out of the car. She saw a couple of men she didn’t know Thought they were there to do a show about KJNP because of its “uniqueness.”

“The one gentleman I was talking to had a gun. He was very nice. I just went up and asked if someone was doing a story and he said, ‘No, we’re just here to guard Schaeffer Cox.’ He was just standing there, leaning on his gun.

I asked, ‘Why does Schaeffer need any guarding? I didn’t think he needed that.’”

Entered into evidence are 2 CDs, which are recordings that are kept as part of KJNP’s records.

We’ll get to watch a video of Cox’s appearance on the show.  The video shows a row of people sitting in chairs on a very rudimentary looking set, if you can even call it that. The website describes it like this:

“KJNP-TV produces their own local TV program called Closing Comments. It’s a homespun program that is public affair in it’s nature.”

On the far left is Dick Olson, the host. The guests are: Ken Thesing, whom Beaver describes as “an officer in the militia, and a real good man,” David Bettels, a common law judge (you may remember his name from the Denny’s trial paperwork), a woman who appears to be Rachel Barney (or her doppleganger) who is sitting in the courtroom now, and of course Schaeffer Cox himself.

It is alarming to hear Cox speaking. He’s been sitting in the courtroom almost two weeks, and hasn’t said an audible word. But there he is on the screen, speaking in a fast-paced angst-ridden adrenaline voice. He talks about how the Federal government has a plot to bring him down because they perceive him as a threat. I got as much verbatim as I could, but didn’t get it all. There are some holes, but I think you’ll get the idea.

“They transferred out US Marshals and FBI outside Fairbanks, and they brought 6 in just for me. It’s their written policy any time there’s a group that weakens or disturbs the powers that be and their control over the people, they will provoke an incident just to splinter it and bring the whole group down,” Cox said.

Beaver said she identified Cox with the 2nd Amendment Task Force, and generally, topics he was talking about on those programs were 2nd Amendment Task Force meetings they were going to have in the area. Their job at KJNP is to inform the public, and Closing Comments is a public affairs program, so he would come out and talk about the 2nd Amendment Task Force, and what they were going to do at these meetings.

Another video clip of Cox – “… after the fact, it turns out that there were 6 Federal Agents from Aurora Colorado that came here for this purpose, just pushing all this stuff.”

And another – “And they took it to Troopers and were trying to get Troopers to kick in my door to take our kid away (air quotes) “just in case” because he might be playing with ammo on the floor or something. So the troopers say they don’t have the manpower to deal with this. They’re afraid there would be counterattacks from the militia, and they were in no way prepared to deal with this. The Troopers know me and Marty, and that was met with high suspicion right off the bat. We come to find out the supervising agents said  (he emphasized that this was a direct and specific quote) ‘our plan is to try to take Seth away from Schaeffer and Marty, and we believe that will be sufficient to release a show of force, and at that time we will shoot all three of them.”

“They got my phones tapped so they know I’m saying this already so it’s no problem saying it on TV. If there came a time (that they harmed my family) I would kill those federal agents. What kind of a father would I be, if I didn’t feel that way? We would criticize anyone in history who didn’t do that.”

“With 3500 guys, we have tremendous resources. We have the 6 (federal agents from Colorado) under 24-hour surveillance.” Then he went on to say that even though they could have done something, they didn’t because “they had not done it yet. They are people too, and they have just as much right to repent as anyone else. There would be no sense in it.”

“It’s gotten out of hand with the powers that be, and the people are getting fed up with it. If we don’t establish diplomatic ties with them, we’re going to result with blood just by default. I don’t want my blood or any of my people’s blood at all. There is no reason for that. There is no reason we all shouldn’t live in peace. There is no sense in that. We’ve got to establish diplomatic communications with the people in power and the people who are fed up.”

He went on about more reasons not to have bloodshed, and then the clip ended.

The prosecution was finished.

Tim Dooley for Coleman Barney asked, “Were the men (outside the radio station) rude to you?”

“Oh no, they were not rude. They were very nice,” Beaver said.

The witness is excused, and the giant evidence binders that were handed out to the jury containing transcripts of the clips we just saw (I want one!) were collected, and loaded on to a large plastic rolling cart with shelves.

The next witness is Kevin Fansler.

He apparently feels no need to dress for court. Even Michael Anderson who bragged that 90% of his wardrobe came from the dump did better than this. He’s in wrinkled tan carpenter pants, suede slip on shoes with elastic on the sides, and an old worn black t-shirt with some writing on it that I can’t make out.

He’s a truck driver who works 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, out of Deadhorse. He answers questions politely, “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.” His father-in-law is Dick Olson, the host of the TV show we just watched. He is married with 5 children.

He also has been called to tell the story of that night. He noticed from his home on the compound that someone was riding around on a 4-wheeler. His oldest kid told him there was someone out back with a gun.

“I went out along the side of the house. I waited ‘til the motion light came on. Then I went out behind the vehicles. I talked to the gentleman who was in the road. It was a short conversation. I asked if I could help him. He responded by saying they were patrolling the area and protecting Mr. Cox.

I said I didn’t know him, and he was standing behind my house with a gun, maybe 50 yards away from the studio. (to the left of the picture)

He had no idea they were going to be there. He never got a heads up. Afterwards, he didn’t call the police, because he figured it was over.

After a quick question from Tim Dooley about whether the man with the gun was rude, or mean (no), Mr. Fansler was free to go. As he passed me, I made sure to take note of what was on his t-shirt. It was a red cross in the background with the words “Power in the Blood” also in red.

Next Witness is Customs Agent Nanette Curtis

She told the jury that she had met Schaeffer Cox at Walmart, while she was there on personal business. She’s married with 3 kids, and one of them was sick. She was on line at the pharmacy with her sick daughter.

She was in uniform – Navy blue pants and shirt, and a leather jacket with patches on the sleeves indicating Customs and Homeland Security.

“He came up from behind to see who I was, so he could see the uniform. He wanted to know who I worked for. I told him I worked for US Customs. He said I was OK because I worked for customs, but he didn’t like to see a lot of feds in Fairbanks.”

She described his demeanor as “kind of confrontational, and a little bit aggressive.” She said he was speaking in a medium volume, and that other people were paying attention.

The prosecution asked if he was wearing his signature tweed hat. Yes, he was.

She conducted her business at the window, then had to go back and wait in line. “He came up to me again and started talking some more about his beliefs, the Constitution… We discussed the Department of Homeland Security and he didn’t believe it was a legally formed department in the government. He said he had a militia. I knew him from the newspaper from the 2nd Amendment Task Force. He said he had a few thousand armed men to support him. It was news to me.

“Several bystanders were listening, and one lady actually came up to talk to Mr. Cox, and wanted to meet him at that point.

Skrocki asked about Cox knowing her name, and if he did.

“My name was on my uniform. It showed ‘Curtis,’ just the last name.”

Next up was the sketch of the courthouse we saw yesterday, that had the scribbled names and notes in the margin. The notes read:

3 of them, Curtis female DHS border control

The witness had no idea that her name was on a note like this, and she had only been shown this particular piece of evidence that morning. Skrocki asked how she felt about her name being on the paper.

“It’s kind of scary,” she said. “I didn’t know I had made that impression with that interaction we had.”

She knows Tom Stedler, another name on the paper. He used to work for the TSA in Fairbanks.

She reported the incident in Walmart to her supervisor, and to the FBI.

Her daughter was with her, standing behind her. “I usually would not be there in uniform except for extenuating circumstances. I don’t like to be in uniform when I have my children with me. I had a sick child and I was between shifts.”

“I told [Cox] that he should be a politician when he was talking about his beliefs. He said he was a politician but he didn’t hold an office.”

Nelson Traverso for Schaeffer Cox cross-examines the witness.

Did you document this contact?

No.

Richard Sutherland (didn’t catch his title) interviewed you. Did you express to him that you didn’t feel threatened?

Yes.

Did you talk to Schaeffer Cox at length about his political views?

Not at length but for more than a few minutes.

Did you tell him that you no longer wanted to talk to him, and that he should stop?

I don’t believe I said those words, no.

The drawing you just saw. Did you have a meeting with the government this weekend or this past week – the US Attorney’s office?

A few weeks ago.

Did you see the diagram then?

No. I just saw it this morning.

Are you aware that it was not drawn by Mr. Cox?

Yes.

Skrocki addresses the witness again.

These political discussions you had were all one-sided, correct? You did all the listening, he did all the talking?

Pretty much, yes.

We prepare for a break, and the jury leaves.

MJ Haden for Lonnie Vernon says that the comments were made only for Schaeffer Cox. She says, “the jury may infer that he is speaking on behalf of my client.” Then she mad a motion to “sever” – meaning that she wanted Vernon’s trial to be severed from his co-defendants’ trial and done separately.

Yvonne Lamoureux for the prosecutions says, “First, this is being brought a little late. This was provided in discovery and an exhibit list was given to the defense a long time ago. They are charged with these conspiracies together. Lonnie Vernon was there as part of the security detail. The government thinks there is no reason to sever.”

The judge says the motion is denied. “I understand where you’re coming from. I think this is not confusing to the jury, and it seems to me that they can tell who is speaking for whom at any given time from the testimony that is given.”

Break

During the break the prosecution tells the judge that they will run out of witnesses at 3:30 today because things haven’t taken as long as they had anticipated. “Well, you better get two more witnesses down here then,” says Judge Bryan. Skrocki explains that the flight schedule from Fairbanks is such that they can’t do that and get anyone here in time. Bryan is not amused, but there’s nothing that can be done.

First witness after the break is Alaska State Trooper Malik Jones, one of those named in the handwritten notes of Michael Anderson.

He testified that he observed a vehicle exceeding the posted speed limit, going 76 miles an hour at mile 285 of the Parks Highway. He pulled the vehicle over. After running the plate attached to the vehicle (a 1973 Nissan Ultima) he realized it was actually registered to a different vehicle (a Chevy truck) – a violation of state law.

He also ran the driver and passenger. David Rohner was driving and Jeremy Baker was the passenger. He explained that the violation was a Class A misdemeanor, and that it was an “arrestable offense.”

“The passenger requested to leave, so I allowed him to collect his personal belongings and leave. He said he was going to get a ride somewhere on the highway.

There was a statement made about a card. The driver asked the passenger to give me a card. Baker said, ‘No, that’s not appropriate right now.’

“I wrote out a summons because I wasn’t going to do a physical arrest. I was going to  release him at the scene, and give him a chance to register the vehicle in Fairbanks. While I was writing, Mr. Rohner made a phone call. I reapproached the vehicle to give him the summons, and he said his lawyer was on the phone and wanted to talk to me.

“The person identified himself as his attorney, and identified himself as Schaeffer Cox. He was demanding they wanted to know my authority for enforcement on the traffic stop and the violations. Title 12 gives us the authority in the state of Alaska. He kept making demands about my authority and my position, just random stuff. I didn’t have a chance to talk.

“I wasn’t going to stand on the side of the road and talk to someone I didn’t even know who it was.”

“What was Mr. Cox’s tone?” asked federal prosecutor Yvonne Lamoureux.

“It was agitated, aggressive. Not a conversation, but, ‘do this do that, tell me this, tell me that.’ I’m responsible for everyone I stop. Until I release them, I am responsible for them from the beginning to the end of the stop.”

“What did you do?”

“I just gave Mr. Rohner the phone back. Then he began to demand to be taken before a judge or a magistrate. I just told, (Cox) “I don’t’ have anything to say to you.” [Rohner’s] demeanor changed. He was cooperative until that point. He was really mellow until that phone call. Then he started making demands about me taking him before a judge or magistrate immediately. I explained that I wasn’t arresting him, and in order to do that I’d have to arrest him.”

Judge Bryan asked Jones to explain what a summons was, in case they didn’t know. “A summons is just something that says you promise to appear in front of a court. It doesn’t say you’re guilty. It’s just a promise to appear in court. He demanded to see a judge or magistrate. Arrest – that’s what he wanted. It was after 5pm. We’re at mile 285. The closest court was in Nenana, and the magistrate is not on call, so he was transported to Fairbanks. We met another trooper at the Ester weigh scale at mile 351 of the Parks Highway – a little over an hour drive. Then he was transported to Fairbanks Correctional Center. It’s my understanding that Schaeffer Cox was waiting in the parking lot.

That was his only interaction with Schaeffer Cox, and he had no interactions with Michael Anderson.

The prosecution projected on the screen the image of the sticky note we’d seen before during Anderson’s testimony with Jones’ name, an address was a house in North Pole he owned in 2007, with the subdivision name, and the Lot and Block number. Underneath that it said, “former military.” Jones explained that his father was former military, and he had lived on Ft. Wainwright for 2 and a half years, while he was in High School, but had never served in the military himself.

Next witness, Alaska State Trooper Ron Wall

I have to say, Central Casting would again be proud to cast one of the key players in this trial as himself. Ron Wall came across as the kind of Trooper you wished all troopers would be.  He was calm, and level-headed, and if you’ve ever watched the series ’24’ he was just like the head of the Secret Service (Aaron) in the early seasons.  Now, that I think of it… Malik Jones could play himself too. But back to Ron Wall.

“I know Schaeffer Cox,” he began.

“In about 1999 give or take a few months, Gary and Judy Cox, the defendant’s parents purchased a home across the street from one that we had purchased. We lived there until 2008 when I sold that home. His father, Gary, was the pastor for University Baptist Church where Wall’s two sons attended, with their mother. Schaeffer’s brother Grady attended the same martial arts studio, and had babysat my boys.”

“What about in an official capacity?”

“As my current position, Cox contacted me regarding the 2nd  Amendment Task Force firearms rights, initially. I had a vague idea of what their mission was. They basically promoted the 2nd amendment of the US Constitution, and wanted to ensure all citizens did not lose their right to bear arms. They held meetings. I read about them in the newspaper.

“In 2009 Schaeffer called me at my office and asked to meet with me. I agreed to meet with him. He showed up. He arrived with two other gentlemen. I’m not sure who they were. We discussed his view of the 2nd Amendment, and some pending legislation. Mr. Cox’s first comment to me was, “I’m here to tell you I’m about to break the law.” I chuckled. It was about pending firearms regulations that could be enacted through political means. Mr. Cox’s concern was that the way the government was moving, and the new President, that law enforcement was going to enter people’s homes and take their firearms. My understanding was that he was telling me his stance on any pending legislation. And I told him he can’t break a law that doesn’t exist yet. It was a future law.”

The prosecution wanted to know if Wall knew who the other men were.

“They were members of the task force. I want to say one was Michael Anderson, but I’m not positive. In that meeting and subsequent phone conversations, he wanted the Troopers to sit on a panel and support the 2nd Amendment Task Force, and answer questions for the public at Friends church. We declined to take part in the panel. We guard ourselves against becoming a political entity. Were here to enforce the laws. Different people want to utilize our organization to promote or hinder a cause and that’s not our role in government. We simply enforce laws that are there, and be judicious and fair. We had concerns that we would be used politically and we didn’t want to take that role.

“Fairbanks police, and Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms were going to sit on the panel. I’m not sure whether they did or not. The meeting was held.”

“Was there a vacant seat for the troopers?” Skrocki asked.

“I’m not sure.”

The men were in Wall’s office for about 30 minutes. They gave him a letter with some signatures on it, which he provided that to the captain.

That letter is entered as evidence with no objection.

Letter of Declaration

Let it be known that we, the people of Alaska, stand in recognition of the true principle that whenever a government abandons the purpose for which we have created it and even becomes hostile towards that which it was once a defender of, it is no longer a fit steward of the political power that is inherent in the people and lent to this government with strict conditions. These conditions are clearly defined in the United States Constitution and understood by the common man.

Furthermore, to the extent that our government violates these conditions, they nullify their own authority, at which point it is our right and duty, not as subjects but as sovereign Americans, to entrust this power to new stewards who will not depart from the laws we have given them.

This being the case, let it be known that should our government seek to further tax, restrict or register firearms or otherwise impose on the right that shall not be infringed, thus impairing our ability to exercise the God-given right to self-defense which precedes all human legislation and is superior to it, that the duty of us good and faithful people will not be to obey them but to alter or abolish them and institute new government laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form as to us shall seem most likely to effect our safety and happiness.

“It was signed by 75 or 80 people. There were signatures on both sides.”

Skrocki asks if Wall can identify any of the signatures.

He picks out Schaeffer Cox, Karen Vernon, Lonnie Vernon, and says the rest are too difficult to read.

Do you see (Congressman) Don Young’s signature there? Do you know if he ever signed this declaration?

There’s a photo of Schaeffer Cox and Don Young at one of the 2nd Amendment Task Force meetings.

(He never directly answers the question if he sees Don Young’s signature on it, but it was previously reported by the media that Young had signed the Letter of Declaration).

“Is that what Schaeffer Cox was asking you to be on a panel for, sovereign Americans?” Skrocki asked.

“I didn’t understand it to be a sovereign American event, but a 2nd amendment meeting.”

“Why did he give that paper to you?”

“To show he had a lot of support and we had shown a reluctance to participate.”

“Assuming that Michael Anderson was there, is that the last time you saw him?”

“Yes.”

“It was unremarkable, the meeting,” concluded Wall.

Personally, I thought it was pretty remarkable that the only US Congressman from the State of Alaska had signed a Declaration that stated if firearms were taxed, we needed to go out and find a new government… but maybe that’s just me.

Captain Barrack had hired Mr. Cox’s lawn care business to mow the grass and do yard maintenance (at the station). We needed to contract that out over the summer, because of an injury.

“Next time I recall seeing him was when he turned himself in to the trooper post in regard to a domestic violence case,” said Wall, and then explained how he had facilitated that. Because of different things going on with the 2nd Amendment Task Force, different rhetoric I was hearing, Mr. Cox having an active warrant – part of my job is to ensure my employees approach things in a safe and prudent matter. He had a warrant and there were things that could lead to a conflict. So, I initiated a phone call through a third party to facilitate (turning himself in). I know him. I wanted him to understand that if he came to the office, and turned himself in, that we would deal with him respectfully. I just wanted to encourage him to come in, and that happened. Mr. Cox hugged me on the way out when he was taken out by my troopers. He was thankful. My impression of him was that he was relieved, and kind of defeated at that point with all the things going on in his life.

“The next time I saw him was when he arrived at my home. It was Mother’s Day weekend in 2010. My wife wanted a yard put in on our property. We had sold our house across from Cox’s parents, and built a home off Chena Ridge area in a newer obscure subdivision 6-7 miles out of town. There is no traffic on my street. If you have friends come visit, you usually give directions twice. My road is not something you just drive to. It is not main thoroughfare, the road is gravel, with maybe 10 houses. In 2010 there were 6 at the most.

“For Mother’s Day weekend, I rented an excavator and was digging up tree stumps and creating a yard for her. I was about 40 yards from the road. I was working with equipment and looked up to observe Mr. Cox’s blue jeep drive past my driveway and up the road, followed by a light colored Dodge pickup truck.

“Later, my wife brought me a cup of coffee, and I observed cox’s vehicle going the other way. Because of his parent’s home, that vehicle was parked for the last several years in front of the house on Driftwood Court.

“My wife was concerned. We discussed the relevance of him being there, and concerns that she had. The following week I advised our Director and Deputy Director of the incident. Then, he arrived at my home on June 9. He was not invited. He didn’t call. I didn’t know he was coming over. I had seen his vehicle driving by, so I’d assumed he knew where I lived. I never gave him my address, and he never asked for my address. He had my cell number, but he didn’t call. And he didn’t call me at the office.

“It was Wednesday night. I had my 2 boys up to the house for dinner – they’re 13 and 15. My ex-wife share 50/50 custody, and on Wednesdays there’s a swap to the non-custodial parent.”

Wall went on to describe he and his wife working on installing a new floor in the house.

“My wife was working on a transition strip on the floor. I was in between our family room and kitchen on my hands and knees. I could see the vehicle coming up the driveway. My German shepherd alerted me. The dog barked, and so I looked out the door. I observed the top of the Jeep coming up the driveway. I swore because I had assumed there was going to be a problem.

“I sent my wife and kids upstairs. I drew my weapon and moved into my garage and took a position behind a vehicle. Based on numerous things of rhetoric and comments made in newspaper and other things, I felt he had no reason to be there uninvited.”

“Did you feel exposed?”

“Yes.”

“Vulnerable?”

“Yes.”

“I stood behind a car in our garage. I could see the back of the vehicle. I slowly moved up. I saw Mr. Cox exit his vehicle. Our German Shepherd challenged him. Mr. Cox raised hands like “Whoa!” at the dog. He barks. He’s an 80 plus pound German Shepherd, and that’s his house. I felt better at that point. His wife was with him, and I observed her exiting the vehicle. So, I holstered my weapon and moved out so they could see me.

 

“Mr. Cox greeted me on a first name basis and said hi. He advised me he wanted to talk to me. He indicated they had issues with their son and OCS . I don’t know if he thought I could help him, or facilitate some sort of meeting, or whether there was a subversive message of showing up at my residence.  My entire career I can’t think of anyone who’s ever been a defendant or something, who ever came to my house. Never about an issue that is a work issue, that’s not something I take to my home. I was concerned.

“We live on a 3-acre parcel on a hillside. I had removed a lot of trees from the lower portion where you enter the driveway. The driveway is fairly long, and there’s a sharp left turn at the top. You can see the residence. The home looks out in the direction of the airport and the Alaska range. He was parked in front of the garage. There is a hill on other side of his vehicle.  I was concerned others might have been around. It’s a wooded lot.

“We exchanged “Hi, how are you, what can I do for you,” and he explained why he was there. We stood there for a minute outside conversing. Then I brought them inside. It was about 6:30-7pm.”

“Why did you invite them in?” Skrocki wanted to know.

“I don’t want to stand out in the middle of the open, exposed. I control my home, I know where things are at. I have both an obligation as a member of the Alaska State Troopers, and an obligation as a command level officer, and I also felt I had some kind of tie to his mom and dad, his brother and his family. But the primary reason  was that we were open and exposed outside.

“Based on the 2nd Amendment Task Force mission, based on the Liberty Bell network, the militia, and stuff he is involved in, it’s easier to have an open line of communication than to arrest them for trespass, throw them off the property, or be rude. We like to be respectful to the citizens we serve.”

“You did not voice concern to him?” asked Skrocki.

“I absolutely did not.  Outwardly I was cordial. Inwardly I was feeling guarded – very cautious about anything that could be going on outside my purview. I initially felt threatened, then when I brought him in, I could step that back. I felt concern that there might be somebody else present. I was concerned he knew where I lived.

“Offered them a seat inside the U of the kitchen counter. They were both on the same side, and me on the outside with back to the exposed part of the residence. I positioned myself between them and my family.

“We talked about primarily dealing with the OCS visit to his son and whether he was going to allow that. He discussed that he had relinquished his citizenship to the United States, about gun rights, and history. He told me he had 3500  militia members. He said he was concerned that members would harm troopers, judges or troopers families if someone harmed his child. He wouldn’t do it, but he couldn’t control members of militia if something happened to him, or if he was taken into custody. He didn’t say what his role was. I interpreted it to be, “leave us alone or else.” There was an implied veiled threat, and I didn’t’ care much for that.

“He said that the militia were broken down into 5 and 15 man units, and that they acted independently. They reacted on their own with out command. It’s almost like a twofold statement he would make – “I would hate to see troopers or their families killed or injured.” I took offense to those comments and explained I would hold him personally responsible if members of my troopers or their families were killed. He is a catalyst for their behavior. He is promoting himself as the sole purpose of what this militia was about. It wasn’t about right to bear arms or the Constitution, it was about him and his family. He was their leader and told them what to do, he provided training, and guidance.

“He showed me a document and I looked at it out of morbid curiosity. I was kind of surprised at that. (I think this was the document relinquishing his citizenship to the United States) What are the ramifications of that? I wondered what impact that would have on them as a person.

“They were there an hour and a half or two hours. We discussed U.S. history, and philosophy, and discussed political views of how to affect change – I told him I thought that was to be moderate, not militant. We discussed his views of historical figures.”

The prosecution asked about the process of interviewing children when there is a domestic violence case.

“By Alaska statute, if you are involved in a crime involving domestic violence, OCS is required to interview the child in the home, whether they are still nonverbal or teens. They were trying to contact the Coxes to view him, and make sure he’s OK. He was nonverbal. Mr. Cox stressed he did not want troopers coming to his home, He was very direct that he, please, did not want people sent to his home.

“I said we are not getting a search warrant. There are other ways to facilitate that. I told him if he would bring the child to my office, I would guarantee that he and his wife would leave with the child. I would help facilitate a meeting with OCS. He was concerned troopers would get a writ. A writ is a court order directing the law enforcement agency to carry out certain actions by the court. It gives us the authority to enter homes, other things we would not normally have the authority to do. Troopers do not interfere with OCS but he was concerned troopers would get a writ.

“I told him I would try to facilitate a meeting between the Coxes and OCS workers at my office. It is not something we normally do, but somebody had to do it. I’m still a trooper and my job is to take care of problems, and this was a problem. It was cordial. They left and we were polite to each other.

“The boys were upstairs. My wife was above us on a balcony with a cell phone and she came down a couple times. She had to leave to take boys back to their mother’s toward the end of that conversation. He got several phone calls while he was at the house – his phone rang every 10 or 15 minutes or so. When he left, he gave me a hug in the hallway and I walked him out. I noticed he was wearing body armor at the time.

I then secured my residence and contacted Captin Burt Barrack, my supervisor. I told him I felt that we probably needed to be aware that he had arrived at my house, there were implied threats to members of our organization, plus judiciary, and possibly other agencies as well. I had made statements to command before that people had been driving by house, and following me. I didn’t want to sound like the loony individual, but things had started to manifest themselves.

“I didn’t ask how he found my house. The idea is not giving people the satisfaction of showing that they’ve gotten to you. You don’t allow someone to know they’ve rattled you. If I’d asked him, it would have given him a boost in confidence, and he didn’t need that. In my 22 year career, no defendant ever came to my home.”

“Did another defendant made threats?” asked Skrocki.

“Lots of people in the back of police cars tell us they’re going to do bad things to us and our spouses, but they don’t come to my home.

“Were there instances where people made threats to kill judges?”

“Not in that capacity.”

“There were a lot of things that started moving then,” Wall explained. “Wheels started turning without me even being part of it. There were different security measures at my residence.

“It impacted us significantly at the time, and my kids slightly since then. It was the first time that someone has come to my home and involved me personally. As a law enforcement officer, you expect certain people won’t like you or wish ill will upon you, but it’s rare that something like that is taken to you and your family.”

MJ Haden looked very unhappy and was whispering furiously to her co-counsel.

“The boys went and stayed with their mother. I wanted my wife to stay with friends but she refused. The boys not scheduled to stay with their mother. They did based on safety concerns.”

The prosecution asks about the next time Wall had contact with Cox

“I tried to reach him by text and talk by phone to facilitate the OCS visit with his son. I didn’t’ receive a response. That was the last contact until I see him sitting here today.” Wall then remembered another contact.

“In February of 2011, he called me and advised me that the pending case he had with the Fairbanks Police Department – a firearms case. He said he was not going to arrive at court the next day. He called on the cell phone in the evening. He said that he felt he owed it to me to tell me he wasn’t going to arrive at court. We discussed the ramifications. I told him it was up to him. Everyone has a right to choose what they want to do. I said if he doesn’t show up, a warrant will be issued and it’ll be dealt with like any other misdemeanor. It’s a small town – someone will see him or I will see him and take him into custody.

“He said he wanted to give his motorcycle to my oldest son. He had rebuilt a motorcycle with my kids’ stepfather. I explained that he had a pending criminal charge, and he was going to be a fugitive. You come into this job with the same thing you leave with – your integrity. I am not going to allow someone who is going to give a gift to my son – the implications there are something I’m not going to let happen. I said no.

“It was a bizarre offer. I hope he was genuine, but why? Why now during this call? Why not give it to the stepfather and have him do this. They were friends, and built the motorcycle together, not me.”

Wall was then asked about being followed.

“I spent 5 years doing narcotics. I told my wife, I think cars are following me every now and then. Sometimes you get that weird feeling. At one point I left the office on a Friday and I’d washed my car. I have a classic car, and I went to wash it up after work. A vehicle pulled up and started taking photographs of me. That is not a criminal activity, but based on everything else that was going on, I wanted to know who they were. They crossed behind the gas station. I contacted Lt. Piscoya to intercept, and identify the driver of the vehicle. We were not successful.”

A slide is shown. We’ve seen it before. It has the name of Gary ‘Tolop’ whom Wall identifies as Gary “Tellop” and says he’s one of his troopers, and Schaeffer’s neighbor. He also identifies his own name, and that of Lawrence Piscoya who was just referenced.

Nelson Traverso for Schaeffer Cox is up, and cross-examines Wall.

“Your boys had interaction with Schaeffer Cox?”

“Yes, sir.”

“You can call me Nelson.”

“Yes sir.” (He said this smiling, and the courtroom chuckled.)

“When the 3 individuals met at your office to talk about the declaration. Were they packing?”

“Nothing I had seen.”

“Did they give up any guns before they went in?”

“No, there is no facility to secure weapons at the Trooper post.”

“When you were meeting, you said you felt you had an obligation to engage the community. Did he threaten you?”

“No.”

“Did any of the others?”

“Absolutely not.”

“One of the others was Michael Anderson?”

“I believe so.”

“Do Troopers normally carry a recording device?”

“The patrol guys do.”

“When Marty and Schaeffer Cox came to your home, you felt the need to get a defensive weapon?”

“I had my weapon on, Sir.”

“You unholstered it.”

“Yes.”

“Was Marty Cox packing a gun?”

“I didn’t see.”

“Was Schaeffer Cox packing?”

“Not on his waistline.”

“Did you ask him?”

“No.”

“Did you ask Marty?”

No.

“Was he there to threaten or seek advice from you?”

“I would say both.”

“How did he threaten you?”

“His threat was veiled that bad things would happen.”

“He said he wanted to be left alone.”

“He didn’t want troopers executing a writ or search of his home.”

When Marty and Schaeffer came to your home, did you radio for backup?”

“I didn’t have a radio.”

“Did you try to contact anyone or tell your wife to call?”

“She was upstairs with a cell phone.”

“You talked about history and politics for two hours, a wide variety of subjects.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Did he mention to you, something about a couple militia members he couldn’t control?”

“He didn’t say a couple. He said there were members he couldn’t control, if their leader was threatened.”

“Did you hear reference to Bill Fulton or Aaron Bennett?”

“No, sir.”

“When he saw you at the Trooper station, he hugged you.”

“Yes.”

“At home, he hugged you.”

“Yes.”

“Your family lived next to his family for 9 years.”

“I don’t believe he lived there the whole time.”

“As far as you know, he was wearing a vest or body armor.”

“Under his shirt, yes.”

“You said he was a catalyst – for violence, or the movement?”

“Both.”

“Then how did he catalyze the movement for nonviolence?” said Traverso, explaining how a catalyst for violence would also be a catalyst for non-violence

“He said he would promote peace and he didn’t want violence to happen, but it was a backhanded comment every time. ‘We don’t want to spill their blood. I would never want them to happen.’ It was almost like a double-edged sword. I told him that words have meaning, and he needed to think about how he used them. I sent an email to the command staff and intel unit. There was no criminal case including me at that point.

“When you send out intel things – safety bulletins and things like that. You have to be careful. If I email to say be cautious of militia members or things, I’m viewed as anti-Constitutional. People have the right to their opinion. I did send an email at one point, cautioning my personnel, telling them to be vigilant. I also told them I had no specific threats against those members.”

Next up – Tim Dooley for Coleman Barney to cross-examine. He only asked a few questions to establish that Wall had never seen Coleman Barney in person, and that he’d never seen him follow him, and that he never came to his home or office.

Steve Skrocki had a few more questions. He wanted Wall to elaborate on the way in which he took Cox’s comments.

“It’s almost like a passive-aggressive comment. You say something that has a connotation, and then you downplay it. ‘I was joking,’ or ‘I didn’t mean it like that,’ but you were direct in saying what you meant the first time.  You say something threatening, and then say you don’t want this to happen. If you say you’re in a position of control, you are responsible for those who follow you.”

“Was it a threat that he found where you lived?”

“I took it that way.”

“He said he couldn’t control members of his militia?”

“I took that as a threat.”

After Wall moved to his new house, his contact with the Coxes was very limited. Schaeffer Cox had never hugged him before he turned himself in over the domestic violence case. Skrocki asked about what had happened after the incident when Cox came to Wall’s house.

“The Troopers puts several things in motion – video surveillance, large windows were covered, there were different audible alarms set up, an alarm was set when we were in the house. The dog was outside. Large windows and back doors had to be covered, doors were secured, and the family had an emergency plan. The boys went to stay with their mother.”

The witness was excused, and the court broke for lunch.

This was Thursday. Court doesn’t meet again until Monday, May 21. I’m on my way to catch the afternoon session, and will report back.

 

Comments

comments

Comments
34 Responses to “Militia Trial: Armed Guards & Being Followed”
  1. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    I am a little disquieted by some of the comments regarding how these crazies should be handled by the judicial process. Gitmo? Seriously?

    No, they are entitled to the same treatment as any other citizen. Since I am not a lawyer, I cannot say if non-citizens would be equally entitled, but I would hope so. Equal justice under the law is a constitutional principle.

    I wish someone could step in for AKM to report on this during her absence. But I guess we will have to be content with the transcripts.

    What is the news on the election?

    • Ellie says:

      You beat me to it. I’m uncomfortable with it, too. It seems like a hyperbolic kind of reasoning, a type that I have seen elsewhere and used to great effect, that helped these people buy in to their grand delusion. And for me, are these lunatic ravings enough to really make them non-citizens? I can’t help but think of them as our people still, people that have become dangerous in their fear, paranoia, and dreams of militant power, and it is our responsibility to deal with it, to the best of our ability, according to the laws we have chosen to live under.

      • Valley_Independent says:

        Agreed. All should be treated equally under the law, though many on the far right seem to think detaining people indefinitely without charge at Gitmo is acceptable, it sets a truly frightening precedent.

  2. Zyxomma says:

    As always, AKM, you really bring a courtroom to life for all of us. Thanks. We’ll miss your reportage in June, but look forward to your adventures elsewhere than court.

  3. zyggy says:

    since Cox denounced his citzenship, I wonder if he can be tried as a terrorist? I think he’ll take the stand in his own defense, regardless of his attorney begging him not to.

    • bubbles says:

      since Cox Renounced and denounced his citizenship why the heck is his behind not in Gitmo explaining his Sovereignty to a military tribunal? why is he in Alaska? why is he sucking up the air in ‘our’ country?why am i asking these dumbassed questions?
      wonderful post AKM!♥

  4. leenie17 says:

    By the way, AKM, if you ever decide to give up on the writing thing (heaven forbid!) you might want to consider a career in court illustration!

  5. Another fine job of reporting, AKM. Two things:

    WC worked briefly as a late night station announcer at KJNP-AM in the very early 1970s (fired for playing The Fugs on the ‘B’ side of the board). You actually had to say:

    King Jesus North Pole Radio
    God’s Tower of Power in the North
    1170 on your radio dial
    50,000 watts in the service of the Lord

    at station breaks. You were not permitted to smile while saying this. WC will have to do a post on his experiences at KJNP some day.

    And “Christmas on Ice” is North Pole’s winter carnival, unrelated to the larger, later North American Ice Carving Championship in Fairbanks.

  6. ks sunflower says:

    Forgot to say something important: thank you AKM for the riveting narrative. You truly do make the “news” there come alive for all of us, no matter where we live. It is a gift you give us that is deeply appreciated.

  7. beaglemom says:

    I’m curious about the folks living at KJNP. I assume that they consider themselves to be Christians. If so, why are they so interested in the Second Amendment? Or do you think they are confusing it with the Second Coming?

    • ks sunflower says:

      Yeah, what is with that? I have never been able to reconcile the sharp contrasts. It is as if they cannot connect the dots and see how one part of their worldwide is totally opposing the other.

    • Carrie says:

      KJNP is a normal, community radio station that serves North Pole, Fairbanks and many bush communities. They are not kooks. They are Christians who have decided to live together in an area and dedicate themselves to sharing their message in a very non-assertive, pleasant way. They have many community service programs. They have been around a long time. They give most groups who wish to share information with the community forums on TV and radio. This includes local coaches for school teams and political people. It is easy to sterotype them if you do not know much about them. Their “compound” is a nice area on the Badger Slough under very tall spruce. It is just an assemblage of log cabins, most built long ago when missionaries from Mn. started the station. Please do not make fun of Christians or conflate them with the militia nuts. Many of us who avidly read this website and appreciate the writing and information happen to also be Christian. It does NOT mean we are extremists or wackos. Watch it, please!

  8. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    Um – yes it will be a pity to miss AKMs account and startlingly life-like courtroom drawings. This case is
    not getting any attention outside ANC – even Wickersham’s Conscience has not mentioned it.

    My take is this is a bunch of nut jobs trying to be tough guys, getting together and talking tough and then slowly but surely boxing themselves into a smaller and smaller corner where they actually have to act tough… with predictable results. People who never made the transition from the playground to the battleground and never could really, sad, pathetic and dangerous as hell.

    Apparently they were also somewhat math challenged, their 3500 followers appear to be a slight over estimation, by a factor of roughly 100.

    There are some other ironies in this little saga that merit being pointed out, perhaps others will take the time to do so.

  9. Writing from Alaska says:

    Court room drama – your next book!! ?? :) yes!! ??

  10. leenie17 says:

    Law enforcement officers are trained to accurately perceive threats and danger to themselves and the people around them. They are also trained to recognize when real threats are NOT present and how to keep a situation from escalating into violence.

    I know that I would be scared to death by what happened but I don’t have the same kind of training that LEOs do. If Trooper Wall felt threatened by Cox, then I would trust that he was, indeed, being threatened. I cannot imagine what it must have been like for him and his family to go through that type of experience and have to make all those changes in their home and lives to insure their safety.

    Cox is a thoroughly nasty and evil little man who delights in making others feel frightened. I hope that our justice system is able to remove the danger he and his followers pose to the general public and that the people they have threatened remain safe.

    • slipstream says:

      Oh, who could be nasty and evil in such a cute little hat?

      • leenie17 says:

        I remember seeing odd little piles of snow in Yellowstone when I was there at Christmas a bunch of years ago. It was in an area that had a lot of geothermal features close to the surface and the only snow that hadn’t been melted in some of those fields was in these little piles.

        When I looked more closely, I realized that the bottom layer of the piles was actually bison poop that was insulating the snow from the warm ground below. Each poop pile has an adorable little snow cap on it. Being of snarky sense of humor, I officially named them ‘poop hats’.

        Moral of the story: You never know what kind of **** is under a cute little hat!

  11. zyggy says:

    AKM, do you know how many more days there are of the prosecutions case? They are doing a great job laying it all out. I have a feeling they haven’t brought out the big guns yets either.

  12. Leota2 says:

    Really, why do these people follow a weasel like Cox?

    I found it interesting the testimony from the trooper who stopped the two men
    in the unregistered car. One minute the driver was calm and collected–
    a few heated minutes of hysteria from Cox and he’s begging to be arrested. The
    Weasel can easily control his weak minded followers.

    And about that body armor—more times than not people like Cox should fear the
    people closest to them as they can be just as paranoid as the boss.

  13. juneaudream says:

    Creeping criminitly..those militia-types..are STILL off in the kids sandlot-box..playing soldiers with tiny plastic men and..materiel.and they are..how old? They are NEVER..going to..grow up..instead they are caught in ..brain-case limbo. Little..green plastic pieces people..and yes..I sit here amazed at those..menchildren.

    • Sourdough Mullet says:

      Men-children, indeed! When Trooper Wall testified that he could feel Cox’s body armor when he hugged him, it SO begged the question: Did he notice the Oscar Mayer cheddarwurst that Cox had taped to his thigh, too? ;-)

    • Just_a_Mote says:

      They are men-children but their paranoia, acting on their paranoia, and armaments, make them dangerous.

      • Valley_Independent says:

        Agreed. Calm, clearly thinking armed people without an attitude are fine. Paranoid, desperate, self-righteous nuts with chips on their shoulders are to be avoided at all times.

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