Anderson Testifies in '2-4-1' Militia Trial About Researching Cops' Addresses for Cox (UPDATED)
Defendant Schaeffer Cox is shown at left
ANCHORAGE - During the trial of Schaeffer Cox and two others who are accused of making plans to kill government employees, a former co-defendant of the Fairbanks militia leader testified Tuesday morning about doing research for Cox on the home addresses of law enforcement officers.
Michael O. Anderson, who was jailed for eight months awaiting trial last year on his own now-dismissed murder conspiracy charges, spent more than two hours on the witness stand.
He testified he did collect information on about 20 government employees for Cox, but not with the intent of hurting anyone. He said he refused to give up the database and destroyed it when he began to have doubts about what Cox and members of his Peacemakers Militia were going to use it for.
Anderson is no longer charged in the case and federal prosecutors offered immunity from future prosecution as long as he testifies honestly.
Although the trial is now in its second week, Anderson is the first witness with a personal connection to the defendants to testify. The defendants and many people in the audience of about 20 spectators turned to watch as he walked into the courtroom accompanied by an assistant U.S. attorney.
Anderson is 36 years old and described himself as a father of two, a mining engineer and former pilot. He said he grew up partially in Anchorage but has lived in the Fairbanks area for about seven years. He has glasses, a short haircut and wore a purple dress shirt with a white collar Tuesday.
Anderson’s attorney Robert Herz also attended the hearing. When testimony began, U.S. District Judge Robert J. Bryan told Anderson that he was free to stop and consult with his attorney before answering any question.
On direct examination Anderson did not elect to consult his attorney and answered all questions freely. But on cross examination from Cox’s attorney Nelson Traverso he did claim attorney-client privilege once when asked if a previous public defender in the case received pressure from federal investigators to persuade him to cooperate.
Anderson said he first met Cox in 2008 at the state Republican convention. They enjoyed discussing politics and philosophy and once spent a summer doing construction and yard work jobs together, he said. They have in common an interest in preparing themselves for what would happen if society collapsed, but Anderson said he was not interested in joining Cox’s militia, which he described as “narcissistic.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki questioned Anderson about several pieces of paper found at his home with names or other information related to government employees.
Anderson said he used public information sources like the state’s Department of Natural Resources website to look up information including home addresses of government employees on several occasions in 2010, both for Cox and for his own purposes.
In the spring of 2010 he said he began working on a database of people he and Cox thought might be “potential enforcers” if society collapsed and martial law was declared. He estimated the database had information of about 20 people, including Alaska State Troopers, Fairbanks police and an officer with the Alaska Office of Children’s Services.