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Militia Trial – Day 2, Opening Arguments!

For background, click HERE. For Day 1, click HERE.

By inexplicable popular demand, my eerily lifelike courtroom sketching is back.

Right out of the box this morning we had an interesting motion from Nelson Traverso, Schaeffer Cox’s attorney. Dogs, he says, are “prejudicial.” Just as hauling defendants into the courtroom in leg irons, or handcuffs when jurors are present can slant a juror’s opinion, so do the explosive-sniffing dogs in the lobby, he argued. We don’t want the jurors to think the defendants “have outside connections to the world of terrorism.” He made sure to tell the judge that he wasn’t saying they shouldn’t HAVE the dogs… they just shouldn’t have them where jurors could see them.

I actually didn’t see any dogs today, but perhaps they were there earlier.

There were two long tables mounded with piles of evidence today. Brown paper parcels, black suitcases, shipping boxes, accordion files, and the largest binder I’ve ever seen in my life. I did not even know they made such a binder. The rings were the size of dinner plates, and the thing was stuffed to capacity.

Today was the day for opening arguments. The government went first. Yvonne Lamoreaux (whose name the judge cannot yet pronounce correctly) and the judge had a little weird back-and-forth about the position of the lectern, and whether she was going to use it or not. He said he’d put the lectern in a specific spot and it got moved and he wanted it back so he could see her face, and she said she was going to stand in front of it, and he said, “no you’re not” and on it went. Finally it ended up with her standing next to the lectern, and putting her notes on top of it, which seemed to work for all parties concerned.

 ~Yvonne Lamoreaux and Judge Bryan

Yvonne Lamoreaux for the U.S.A.

Finally, the jury came in and she began, with a laundry list of armaments and destructive devices that they would be talking about, and that the defendants possessed and were seeking – a fully automatic machine gun, numerous semi-automatic weapons, 30,000 rounds of ammunition, 19 jars of tannenite, 20 OC canisters, 8 CS canisters, 2 CS grenades attached to a ballistic vest, 17 grenade bodies, 3 launchers, 4 “hornets nest rounds” and more stuff I didn’t have time to write down.

She also talked about the plot to kill officers and employees of the United States by Schaeffer Cox who lead the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, Coleman Barney (a Major in the militia), and Lonnie Vernon (a Sergeant).  They will also be mentioning the “sovereign citizen movement” where members challenge the authority of state and federal government, the “Alaska Assembly Post”, the Second Amendment Task Force, and the Liberty Bell Network.

The FBI got involved, she said, when Cox delivered public speeches in the Lower 48 about having grenade launchers, rocket launchers, and machine guns.  Cox reportedly said that his militia “needed to be ready to kill.”  They didn’t like the sound of that.

The government also has an “insider” named Michael Anderson who will testify against his former cohorts. Plus there are two FBI informants – Gerald “JR” Olson, and Bill Fulton, aka “Drop Zone Bill”.

We will hear about defendant Coleman Barney’s trailer, which was full of munitions that have been examined by experts, including something about CS grenades which Cox was quoted as saying “won’t kill you, but will make you wish you were dead.”  Nice. None of the defendants had any firearms, or destructive devices registered.

During the discussion of his trailer and its contents, Barney began writing notes.

There will also be evidence from phones, and computers, and audio and video tapes. Apparently they had a network of “red phones” and “yellow phones” that were used in some way to avoid detection by law enforcement.

So, what was Cox’s beef with the feds? According to the prosecution, Cox got “cross ways” with state and federal employees, and believed there was a plot to kill him and his family, and/or to take his son away from him. This was “complete nonsense” according to Lamoreaux. Cox believed that the “current government was not operating under the rule of law, but by the rule of force,” she went on, and explained that Cox had said they would be morally justified to kill judges, and were preparing to act on these thoughts.

Then we learned about Michael Anderson, co-conspirator and friend of Cox, who shared the same beliefs. He had an engineering background, and was the group’s computer guy. He was given lists of names of those Cox wanted to know more about and was tasked with obtaining information such as addresses, vehicles they drove, and personal information. Anderson was even asked to perform surveillance on persons of interest to Cox, and did so.  Apparently Anderson eventually got cold feet and refused to turn over some of the information to Cox. He deleted the files, and even smashed his computer. But, he forgot to get rid of a hand-written group of names that law enforcement found in his car and in his house.  One list of names was cleverly titled “Federal Hit List.”  Kind of a giveaway, there. I guess that way he’d remember what the list was in case he forgot.

None of those who were on the list knew they were on it. One name caught my attention – Trooper Ron Wall. He was the guy who did the internal investigation of Sarah Palin’s ex-brother-in-law Trooper Mike Wooten.  Small world.

Other government employees who were on the receiving end of not-so-pleasant communications from Cox were a customs agent, and a canine handler at the airport who had her picture taken by him because he “needed to ID who all the Nazis were,” according to the prosecution. I wondered how he felt about the dog wielding “Nazis” in the lobby.

So, how did they come to arrest Cox? By enlisting the help of one unsavory character named Gerald “JR” Olson. He grew up in Montana, and was a member of a Montana militia. He shared a connection through the group with Cox, and was directed to him through the mutual friend. Of course, nobody knew he was an FBI informant. Cox had “Major Barney” get in touch with Olson, and he was then invited to a meeting in August of 2010. That’s when Olson took an oath and was commissioned into the militia. He quickly entered the “inner circle.”

“We’re not going to ask you to like this guy,” Lamoreaux began, and you just knew it was going to be good. Drug trafficker, hasn’t paid his taxes in years, felony theft for installing uncertified septic systems, and felony vehicle theft. That last one was why he wanted to cooperate with law enforcement – to reduce his sentence. He worked for the FBI from July of 2010 to March of 2011, and they paid $60,000 for him to relocate his family.

Every once in a while I’d look over at the defendants, if I could get them in my line of sight. Lonnie Vernon was slow-blinking.

On the story went about various meetings, and events in which Cox felt he would be threatened. Perimeters were monitored… This one was wearing body armor, and that one carried loaded weapons. There was a dry-erase board they found with incriminating evidence.

The famous quote from Cox to a federal officer, “we have you outmanned and outgunned, and could probably have you all dead in a night,” was mentioned. So was Cox’s famous common-law trial at Denny’s in which a jury of his peers (including Barney and Vernon) acquitted him. When Lamoreaux mentioned this, and that they had been told how to vote, Vernon shook his head, smirked and rolled his eyes.

Also mentioned was the attempt by Barney and Vernon, who were sent by Cox, to purchase grenade bodies and other weapons from Bill Fulton of Drop Zone, a military surplus store. Fulton was also a government informant, but nobody knew, including Olson – the other government informant.  They met with Fulton in a hotel room in Anchorage.

We will also learn about technical malfunctions that happened – like the FBI giving Olson a recording device that was already full, so he thought he was recording when he wasn’t. And they lost a grenade for a while, but then they found it.

A week after the grenade field trip to Anchorage, Cox had decided he was not going to appear at a scheduled court appearance in Fairbanks on February 14. It was then that they hatched the 2-4-1 plan, in which they decided if one of them was killed, they would kill two judges or federal employees in retalliation. Barney’s notes from the meeting were titled “Mission 2-4-1”.

Cox didn’t show at the courthouse, as planned, and became a fugitive. He went to live with Lonnie and Karen Vernon. Later he moved in with Coleman Barney. More meetings, more traveling around with assorted weaponry and a ballistic vest. Cox said that he wasn’t going to actually target women and children, but he wasn’t opposed to killing them. He also talked about mailing people heads (!), and hanging bodies from lamp posts (!) to stand as a warning to others. No details on that, but I presume they are to come…

Then they started talking about Barney’s utility trailer and its explosive contents. Barney became visibly flushed.

Then they talked about the set-up for the arrest.  Olson told Cox he could get him out of the state with a trucker he knew. Cox would return to Alaska later, supposedly, to “wage guerilla warfare.”  Olson also told them that Fulton could provide grenades. Cox ordered 25, but was told only 8 were available. Cox also wanted silencers. A meeting was arranged.

First the Vernons met with Olson, and there were recording devices in the vehicle. Lonnie examines the items and pays cash. Law enforcement swoops in and arrests them. The grenades (non-operational) were found in Karen Vernon’s purse. Both Vernons were carrying loaded firearms at the time.

Next up were Cox and Barney. They were told they were going to meet the trucker. They both got in Olson’s vehicle. They chat about silencers. Olson hands the cases with the guns and silencers to Barney and Cox. Barney gets a phone call. Olson hands them the grenades. Then he sees someone coming, and hides the items as best he can. An innocent random bystander approaches the car. The FBI moves in immediately and takes $5000 cash and two loaded firearms from Barney, and a loaded firearm from Cox. They are taken into custody.

The prosecution will call 70 witnesses, and offer 700 exhibits into evidence. They intend to prove firearms violations, conspiracy to obtain silencers, to murder federal officers and employees, using firearms during and in relation to these conspiracies, and conspiring to kill law enforcement officers.

Whew. That was quite a load, and the judge called for a quick break so Cox’s attorney could get set up.

Are you wondering at this point what the defense attorneys could possibly say? Well buckle up, because here we go…

Nelson Traverso and the Defense of Schaeffer Cox

~Nelson Traverso and Schaeffer Cox

“This is not about Schaeffer Cox, domestic terrorist,” he began. “This is about a father of 2, an avid outdoorsman who has climbed Denali 3 times…”  (Schaeffer Cox climbed Denali three times? Who knew?) He was just a young “intellectual agitator,” a “civil disobedient,” a “champion in the fight for civil liberties.” He challenged the institutions that were designed to govern us, head-on. He even ran for office, and “barely lost an election.” (If you consider 37% barely losing!) He challenged the legitimacy of the court system. He challenged the executive branch.

In 2008-2009, we were all concerned that the economy was going to collapse and that the government would follow. He simply enlisted a group of “devout Christian men” to protect themselves and their families against angry mobs. This is a “family militia” and they take an oath to protect family. It is not a revolutionary armed front. It just tries to get the government to listen.

Then, he spearheaded the Liberty Bell Network, which monitored law enforcement. The Troopers even called him once, to calm someone down. But then he forgot to tell them he had a loaded weapon, and got arrested. He chose to challenge it.

Then there was that little issue about domestic assault (choking his wife while driving the car). It was all because of a “strange” relationship with his mother-in-law. Then after that, child protective services (OCS) wanted to interview his 2-year old son. They said it was standard protocol, and Cox was fine with that but wanted to be present. They rejected that plan, and he “didn’t cooperate.” A dispute ensued, leading to “probing, surveillance, and trickery that was unforeseen by the family.”

His solution to all this, was a speech to “raise awareness.”  Traverso went on to say that Cox “colorfully described the country headed to hell on a freight train” and that the government would eventually collapse, but freedom and liberty would ultimately win.  “Don’t kill a wounded bear,” Cox reportedly said. As a government comes down, the law will go with it. So instead, form a militia, and be prepared.

“He didn’t want to overthrow the government, but he did have a big mouth.” And what about the “we could have you dead in one night” comment? “Distasteful, but within his right of free speech.”

“Distateful?” Ya think?

Cox started finding out that people in Fairbanks thought he was dangerous. He was getting statewide and national attention, and feared that the feds were out to silence him. He went to a military base to seek help from the provost’s office. After he left, the feds followed and came to the office, wanting a video of Cox asking for help. An MP called Cox and told him what had happened to warn him.

Weeks later, “Drop Zone Bill” (the FBI informant who owned the Drop Zone military surplus store) came to Fairbanks, and encouraged him to start a militia and used his discontent with OCS to spur him on and encourage it. He kept asking, “What’s your plan, Schaeffer? What’s your plan?” He called people “assets.” Cox discouraged armed conflict and said that the Peacemakers Militia’s motto was “Protect all. Aggress none.”  Cox was concerned that Drop Zone Bill and the owner of Far North Tactical in Fairbanks were out of control.

Olson was the one who instigated the purchase of the munitions. He instigated the militia to armed conflict, and kept demanding to know, “What do you do if you get arrested?” Cox, according to his attorney, was “always trying to shut them down.” But in meeting after meeting Olson tried to get Cox to come up with an attack plan. Cox was busy trying to leave the state with his family to avoid conflict. Olson lied about the escape truck having technical problems to make sure Cox would stay in the state long enough to get arrested in the sting operation.

Olson was told by the government to “make sure to put it in their hands” (talking about the grenades and silencers), and the government was clearly over-reaching.

He finished up by asking the jury to remember this line, “It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.”

Timothy Dooley Defending Coleman Barney

~Coleman Barney and Timothy Dooley

The men who formed the Alaska Peacemakers Militia (APM) are “devout Christians of the type who believe the end is near.”

Didn’t see that one coming, I have to say.

Barney is a Mormon and this is their fundamental core belief. “They prepare for that day” by storing years worth of food for their families. He is active in his church, and it is a central part of his life. He owns Mammoth Electrical, Inc., a successful business in Fairbanks. He joined Cox’s Second Amendment Task Force because he is a “gun enthusiast.” That’s how he met Cox, whom Dooley says has “bizarre ideas.”

The government has classified the sovereign citizens movement as domestic terrorists, and they “were needing to find terrorists.”

Barney was charged with conspiracy to possess grenades. Grenades are illegal, but grenade shells are perfectly legal. They sell rejected ones at the Army/Navy surplus store. There’s even a joke – “If you’re in a hurry, take a number,” says the prankster, as he pulls out the pin from the grenade.

Cox smiled at this. Grenade humor – who doesn’t love it?

Barney was accused of participating in a conversation with Cox and Vernon, but the location was somewhere Barney was working. You hear sawing and hammering on the tape. “He didn’t have time to shoot the breeze with Schaeffer and Lonnie.” Nowhere does he talk about grenades.

Eight grenades were stolen from the base. It was rumored that APM had taken them, but they didn’t. More grenade humor – “Hey, free grenades at Ft. Wainwright!” Har har.

Barney’s utility trailer in which he kept shells and electrical equipment was mentioned next. He and his crew would use some of the equipment on jobs. At one point Cox moved his personal stuff into the trailer, in preparation for leaving the state to avoid trouble.  The government will have to prove that Barney “exercised dominion and control” over the contents of the trailer, and he doesn’t believe they can. Some of the stuff was wrapped up in bubble wrap, so how could he have known what was in there? “Simply having them is not enough to charge him with possession.”

There was liquid metallic welding material, grenade shells, and gun powder for reloading a 9mm. “The government theory says it’s the makings of a destructive device. I think that’s a leap.”

He was charged with conspiracy to possess an illegal silencer. Silencers are legal if you buy them from a Class 3 dealer, get a background check and pay a $200 fee. If he had done these things, he would have been sold one legally. None of the defendants have a criminal history. Barney only has two speeding tickets from his youth. He could afford the $200 – his company grosses over $1million a year. He doesn’t need an illegal one. He wanted one because “he thought it would be cool to have one.”

He was charged with conspiracy to “murder” federal officers. There are different kinds of killing, and “murder” is one kind. Not all killing is wrong.

Here, Lamoreaux makes an objection because she feels Dooley is arguing the case, rather than simply making an opening statement.


The MP at the base warned Cox of his concerns about federal officials and that they wanted to shut him up. In 1992, federal agents attacked and killed a family. They sent in snipers, and the family didn’t know what was going on. It was the famous Ruby Ridge case in which the man had failed to appear in court. They killed his 14-year old son… There was a mother with a baby…

Lamoreaux objects again. Sustained.

Dooley finished up that this story is known and is “in the state of mind” of those in the militia movement.

He’s glad the government brought up the white board, because if they hadn’t he would have. The plan was “IF this, THEN that,” speaking to the fact that they didn’t have the mental framework to carry out murder, but to defend themselves.

Regarding one of the informants, he says he’s going to plan to “have a chat with JR Olson about his past.”

Launchers are legal, he tells us. Even a convicted felon can buy them. They are used for firing flares, tear gas, and other projectiles. The ones in question just happened to have “hornets nests” with rubber pellet canisters inside. But was the launcher designed or redesigned to be a “weapon?”

The Hornets’ Nests are legal too. Schaeffer Cox bought a bunch of tents and camping equipment from Far North Tactical, and they just threw in a hornets nest as a bonus to say thanks for buying so much stuff.

Wow. Quite the bonus gift. “Thanks for your purchase! Here’s a free gift that will painfully spray people with rubber pellets!”

And about that $5000 Barney was carrying to the deal when he went to meet “Han Solo” the truckdriver who didn’t exist? Well, Olson said they needed to meet with him to see if all Cox’s stuff would fit in the truck. The day before, he’d written a $4600 check to “Adam,” an employee. His wife Rachel, like wives do, says “I’ve been writing checks all day and that one will bounce.” So he calls Adam and tells him to wait. He gets the $5000 and heads to the bank to deposit the cash. Just then he gets the call about “Han Solo” the fake truck driver. There is paperwork on this. Even in his first phone call from jail, he tells his wife to make sure that Adam knows the $5000 was not deposited, and not to cash his check.  The money was not to buy illegal weapons because they didn’t even know illegal weapons would be put in their hands.

The government is completely over-reaching.


MJ Hayden defending Lonnie Vernon. This one is classic.

~Lonnie Vernon and MJ Hayden

“We keep hearing about Schaeffer Cox and Coleman Barney,” she began, “but we’ve heard very little about Lonnie Vernon. This case is about Schaeffer Cox and Coleman Barney.”  I had remembered quite a bit about Lonnie Vernon, I thought… Maybe it’s just me.

“Lonnie is rough around the edges. He’s a hard-working truck driver. He’s a blowhard. He tends to exaggerate. He’s also quite a bit older than these two gentlemen,” she went on. “He didn’t fit in… but he wanted to. He wanted people to like him. He’s not eloquent, like Schaeffer Cox… He’s not successful like Coleman Barney…”  By now, it was obvious that Lonnie Vernon was not entirely comfortable or happy about his counsel’s characterization of him.

“He says extreme things. He exaggerates, he embellishes… Where I come from, they call it fish tales,” she said. She then went on to explain that when you catch a fish this big (hands apart), he’ll say it was this big (hands much wider apart) “and that he caught it with a stick, a piece of string, and a kernel of corn.”  At this point, Vernon’s eyebrows shot up in dismay, and he looked extremely put off. “He’s not very well-educated. He’s not a speechmaker, he’s not a businessman…” It was almost painful.

Conspiracy, she went on, is an agreement between individuals. You can’t have a conspiracy if you have an agreement with a government, or a government informant. There was no agreement between Lonnie Vernon and Schaeffer Cox or Coleman Barney to possess destructive devices or silencers. There was no agreement to murder anyone. There are lots of tapes and recordings of “command staff meetings” and Lonnie was not a part of those.

“Lonnie Vernon was just a warm body in this organization. He was just someone to call when no one else was around. He was not part of the command staff.”

She finished up, and we left Lonnie Vernon to mop up whatever was left of his self-esteem.




Time for a well-deserved break.  Barney got up to stretch and gave a grin and a wink to someone in the gallery. She went up to him and he put his arm around her shoulder and squeezed.

The Clerk tells Judge Bryan that one of the jurors wanted him to know she was a Mormon. The judge asks the prosecution if they have an issue with that, and says he will talk to her later. “We certainly didn’t know this yesterday,” they say. “I’m not in the habit of asking jurors that question,” says Bryan.

A run to the Ladies’ Room, and a run to the parking meter, and back for the first witness

Special Agent Michael Thoreson… FBI.

~Special Agent Michael Thoreson

He’s a firearms expert… He’s a SWAT team leader… He’s Arrest Plan Guy…  The Guy That Makes the Call…When he saw what was going to go down, he called in Troopers and extra SWAT team people from Salt Lake to assist.

The information he received was that these individuals were known to carry semi-automatic firearms, had made threats to officers, and wore body armor. Body armor prevents handgun rounds and shotgun rounds from penetrating, but won’t stop an M-16. Agents generally carry regular handguns which would not be able to penetrate. These reasons were why additional assistance was needed.

I was starting to feel like I was watching an episode of “24” at this point.

They chose a vacant lot in Fairbanks where the presence of innocent bystanders would be minimal.  He had requested three guns with silencers and four grenades, that were provided by the FBI for the purpose of setting up the arrest, as props. They were provided by the FBI in Quantico, Virginia.

Then Special Agent Thoreson was given three hard black cases. He identified them, and the labels on them that he had written. Each contained a .22 caliber handgun with a silencer, and an extra clip. He pulled each one out and showed the jury, read the label and said the name of the defendant associated with each gun.  He said one of them “belonged” to Coleman Barney at which point Mr. Dooley made sure he corrected himself – the gun was owned by and belonged to the FBI, technically. It was simply associated with Barney.

~A .22 caliber handgun with an attached silencer

Then, out came a box of grenades, again shown to the jury one by one, then pictures of the weapons in situ at the arrest site. Guns shoved under car seats, grenade canisters, silencers… All the photos and the weapons were entered into evidence.

~The grenade looked just like this

Special Agent Thoreson explained to the nervous courtroom that the grenades were not live. In a high-risk arrest, with a SWAT team, they don’t want additional live weapons in the mix, he said. They could be used against federal agents, innocents, or in this case which involved a government informant – a potential hostage situation.

The arrest is then explained in detail.

The FBI was receiving information in real time via audio hook-up to the informant’s vehicle. The agent getting the live feed was in Thoreson’s car. A car was parked 3-5 blocks away, another one half a block away – outside the view of the suspects. Agent Oberlander(?) was analyzing the live feed, and relaying critical information to Thoreson who was overseeing the entire operation and deciding when to make the call to swoop in and make the arrests.

I almost found myself on the edge of my seat during this part. It was a really great story, and strangely Schaeffer Cox seemed to be riveted in the same way as well.

Three agents were hidden in the trailer, and 30 yards away, more were hidden in a parked van with blacked out windows. At the mention of this, Cox’s face seemed to darken and he set his jaw.

A flash grenade (I think) was set off. It has six million candle-power, and makes a loud noise so that the suspects are distracted and the FBI has time to take them off guard and move in.

The first arrest went off without a hitch. Lonnie and Karen Vernon were both arrested, and did not resist. (Vernon muttered to his attorney). They both had loaded weapons, which were taken from them and passed to Agent Thoreson because he is a firearms instructor and could quickly render them safe by ejecting the round in the chamber.

After the Vernons’ arrest (Karen Vernon will be tried in the fall), the scene was cleaned up to get ready for the Cox and Barney arrest. The scenario went as planned at first – agents were hidden, Barney and Cox got in Olson’s vehicle. But then another vehicle pulled into the parking lot. The SWAT team is listening on their radios. This was not part of the plan. Nobody knew what was going on. It could be a threat, or an innocent person. They had to wait to see…

Oberlander was listening in his ear piece with Thoreson in their car. All of a sudden his eyes bugged out, and he said, “Oh, shit!” Thoreson knew this was not a good sign. The person arrived, walked up to the car and told them the cops were there. Oberlander used the proper language – “Compromise! Compromise! Compromise!” This meant that the jig was up and they knew they were going to be arrested. The plan was compromised, and all the agents knew this was the signal to move in immediately. There was no time to prepare the final details, so they all just went.

When asked what the bystander thought, after the successful arrest, Thoreson said he was “surprised.” He too was arrested, but then let go.

After the story was over, Traverso asked Thoreson if there was any video of the arrest scene. There wasn’t. He also asked him if a tractor-trailer truck was idling nearby. Not that Thoreson remembered. Cox’s attorney seemed agitated. Not sure what this was all about.  He wanted to know “what kind of an agent” Thoreson was – a case agent, a special agent? We find out from Thoreson that “all FBI agents are special agents.”  I had a little mind movie of standing and saying, “If everyone is special, then no one is.” But, of course, I didn’t.


Time for lunch.

The Mormon witness was called back in, and assured the judge that her religion wouldn’t affect her ability to judge the defendant, but that she just wanted to let everyone know. She remained a juror.

The judge also brought up the gargantuan binder. “This evidence binder…There’s like a thousand pages in here. I can’t find anything!” Lamoreaux asked if he’d like tabs put in the binder to divide it into sections. He would. It will be done.

And everyone left for lunch. I was out for the day, because until someone pays me to do this, I have to attend to other things. My heart was there, but I trust that the many other journalists present will provide you with the critical information. If you want to continue to know more than you ever needed to know, I will visit the trial whenever possible and report what I see. It’s definitely the best entertainment around.

So here’s where we stand in a nutshell. The arguments: 

The Government – Cox, Barney, and Vernon are bad men. Very bad. And they need to go to jail for a long, long time.

Schaeffer Cox – He’s just a bright, young, spunky “challenger.” He likes to “challenge.”  He’s a champion of civil liberties, set up by an over-reaching government who didn’t like what he had to say and set him up using informants who insisted he make plans involving violence, against his peaceful nature. He was totally set up by the government informants. He’s a dad, an outdoorsman… and did I mention he climbed Denali three times?  BLAME: Government, JR Olson, Drop Zone Bill Fulton.

Coleman Barney – He’s a Mormon. You know how they are with their “end of days” stuff. And he’s a successful businessman. He didn’t have to commit any crime. The stuff in his trailer wasn’t even his, and if it was, he used it to do electrical jobs. All the bad stuff belonged to Schaeffer Cox. He’s a conscientious man, who worried about making payroll – even from jail. BLAME: Schaeffer Cox, Government.

Lonnie Vernon – My client is a knuckle-dragging bonehead. He couldn’t think his way out of a paper bag. He’s practically illiterate. He’s a mouth-breather. He just wanted a friend, and he picked bad ones. He’s also a liar, and tells stories to make him feel better about himself. He’s innocent on account of being a total loser. BLAME: Everyone else.



31 Responses to “Militia Trial – Day 2, Opening Arguments!”
  1. Writing from Alaska says:

    Ditto to all the good stuff said. Yes, the drawings are so lifelike as to be unnerving! 🙂

  2. austintxx says:

    Great work as usual , AKM.
    Alaskans need a variation of this:

  3. Really? says:

    Two comments, “For background, click HERE” I did that, and to my surprise found out the great news, AKM. I only wish he was representing my district. I enjoyed the web site. Second – Thank you for the great recap, and the time you spent in the courtroom. I also got a kick out of “If everyone is special, then no one is”. Thumbs up..

  4. Motorhead says:

    Thanks so much for taking on the “boots in the mud” duty for the rest of us to learn about this drama.
    This has to be much more fun for you than when you took the time to read $arah’s book and report on it a few years ago…

  5. PitBullAttorney says:

    Next to go on a federal trial is the State of Alaska, Sean Parnell, Sarah Palin, Todd Palin…getting away with murder….oops…not anymore…darn that’s the end!!!

  6. Zyxomma says:

    Thanks for adding your inimitable courtroom drawings. They add even more drama to your recollection of the proceedings.

  7. dahli22 says:

    Oh this is just hilarious. Thanks for the lifelike sketches, which were my favorite part!

  8. Molly says:

    AKM, I can’t say I read every word, but I certainly looked at all the courtroom drawings!

    Why is is that Schaeffer Cox reminds me of James O’Keefe? They both have pasty skin, skinny bodies–and they’re both kinda nuts. Could that be it?

  9. AKblue says:

    The excellent courtroom drawings greatly enhance the description of the events. One gets a feel for the mindset of the participants.

  10. Very well told, AKM. The drawings are perfect for the tale. Who’s writing the book?

  11. Very well told, AKM. The drawings are perfect for the tale. Who’s writing the book?

  12. AKMagpie says:

    Thank you AKM for a fine reporting job. I appreciate your time and energy invested in making sure we get the flavor of the trial as well as the report of what goes on.

  13. tinydancer says:

    “Simply having them is not enough to charge him with possession.” For real? I had to read it twice and laughed out loud.

  14. FlictheBic says:

    If I didnt have a day job that is required to pay the bills, I would be in ANC to attend the trial to watch this freak show unfold. Great job on the coverage and please, please, please go as often as you can so those of us up here in the ‘Banks can be, vicariously, a fly on the wall while these whacknuts get their come-uppance.

  15. juneaudream says:

    I read this..with a slight twitch in the left jaw..and have lived the ‘edges’..of wingnuts (I cannot say the real words needed BUT..have reported to the proper authoritys..various situations including stashed guns/ammo..over the last 6 to 7 years..around my area) as I watch the childlike ..Hunger..for taking out their aggressions..on any who do not..think as they do. I use the term ‘think’ ….exceedingly loosely. their middle years know how little people think of them..and thus..they are now ready to..’act out’. I suggest each of me n mine here..know your neighborhood..and watch who comes and goes..when you are living with 2 or 3 family groups in the neighborhood..who espouse these ugly, stupidity-directed ways of living. Just this last sunday..we had a 2 hour fusilade with high power rifles not permitted at the edge of a suburban area..and the hills here..reverbing… into town.

  16. beaglemom says:

    The courtroom drawings are superb. And the judge, who is not sure he will be able to find pages in the large binder and wants the attorney behind the podium, reminds me of judges I have seen at work in Michigan (during my litigation paralegal days, many moons ago). There was an innocent time in my life when I held judges in great esteem – then I saw a couple of them in action. One dozed and acted extremely bored throughout. I’m enjoying the story – every word of it.

  17. Cinquefoil says:

    I went to college at UAF, so I know a bit about the interior.

    I like Lonnie Vernon’s lawyer! Seems bycatch much like Vic Kohring.
    Too dumb to be charged.

    Jus’ cuz, this time, I hope the We Alaskans defense works.

  18. AKjah says:

    This is too good. I see a comic book in your future.

  19. Celia Harrison says:

    Oh God, those drawings are great. Your description of the proceedings was fabulous. Thank you.

    I’m torn because I know prosecutors lie and come to wild ass illogical conclusions based on no evidence due to my own experiences. I expect all of them to lie until I hear otherwise. They do target certain people and harass them as well, that is very clear to myself and others. It is true that they “rule by force“ in Alaska depending on who you are. I have experienced it. I also know from working with mentally ill legal offenders that law enforcement always says everyone is armed and dangerous even if they have no guns and have never harmed a flea. Just like the O.J. case I will wait for the evidence and see what I think. I assume they have much more. I don’t support anything these guys stand for, certainly I am against the violence, collecting of weapons and explosive devices and threats. I don’t even like them. I do however support due process and the truth in every court case, no matter who the defendant is. Both are hard to come by in Alaska.

    I had no idea it was legal to own a silencer. What legit reason could someone give for having one?

    It seems this Olson may be a psychopath, so anything he has to say is useless. If he had recording devices that makes his evidence more legit. It does seem strange that there is no video of the arrest scene, I wonder if they had audio. Most law enforcement officers of any kind, even if they are “special” have voice controlled recording devices on their persons.

    • beaglemom says:

      Maybe you would own a silencer so neighbors wouldn’t be wakened during the night when you fire off your gun in celebration! At New Year’s perhaps!

    • AKMuckraker says:

      There was audio of the arrest. I believe what he was asking for was video of the setup – what the actual location looked like, rather than a video of the actual arrest happening.

  20. Ivan says:

    i am starting the
    Radical American Fundamentalist Liberal Militia To Counter America’s Evangeliban
    ( R.A.L.F.T.C.M.A.E )
    i am putting together our platform, here are a few planks.
    Please contribute suggestions.

    1. The right to bare arms- asses & breasts and whatever the hell else we wana bare.
    2. Pay Taxes in order to actually do what jesus instructed:
    – help the poor, homeless, the least of these.
    3. Pledge to accept all people whatever their beliefs, skin color, politics and orientation.
    4. To kick Don Young in nuts ( ok, i put that one just for me) 🙂

  21. Alaska Pi says:

    Well done!
    All the other journalistic accounts of today’s proceedings are but poor outlines of yours!
    Your “eerily lifelike” courtroom sketches make me feel like I’m there 🙂

    The dry remarks about the lectern, the judge, and the prosecutor remind me of court stories from my ma, who served as a prosecutor, and the way you worked the defense counsel opening remarks – ma worked as a defense attorney too and puzzled many a time how to make a client ‘s foible’s and fish tales reasonable to a jury…

    I know this is a very serious trial. I am not amused by the little bits we’ve heard ahead of time and I am deeply offended by Mr Dooley’s remarks about state-of-mind of Mr Barney and people in the militia movement.
    I am hoping somebody reminds Mr Dooley that Timothy McVeigh killed 168 people with Ruby Ridge and Waco affecting his state-of-mind.
    We’re done with giving a rat’s patoot about that state of mind – at least in the sympathy department.

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