Jury breaks down Cox speech during 2-4-1 trial
ANCHORAGE — A cart piled with transcripts in thick three-ring binders was rolled into the Anchorage courtroom Thursday afternoon where three Interior men are on trial on charges they made plans to murder government employees.
After a week of showing jurors photographs and looking at weapons and body armor, prosecutors gave jurors the transcript binders and asked them to listen to a short sample of the more than 100 hours of recording investigators made while investigating Fairbanks militia-leader Schaeffer Cox.
Thursday’s recordings came from a public speech Cox gave in November 2009 at a VFW hall in northwest Montana. It’s among political speeches in the Lower 48 that led the FBI to begin watching Cox before recruiting two informants to monitor him more closely, according to prosecutors.
Along with the cart of transcripts, prosecutors brought forward a newspaper reporter from the town of Plains, Mont., who testified he had been covering the event, which attracted about 100 people, and identified Cox as the speaker.
One clip played in court Thursday featured Cox boasting about the firepower of his Peacemaker’s Militia:
“We’ve got a medical unit that’s got surgeons and doctors and medical trucks and mobile surgery units and stuff like that,” he said in the recording. “We’ve got engineers that make GPS jammers, cell phone jammers, bombs and all sorts of nifty stuff. We’ve got guys with ... we’ve got airplanes with laser acquisition stuff and we’ve got rocket launchers and grenade launchers and claymores and machine guns and cavalry and we’ve got boats. It’s all set,”
Prosecutors have referred to this speech before, but what the transcript does not covey is the crowd sounds. In the clip about the Peacemakers Militia’s high tech armament Cox pauses and the Montana audience laughs as he adds items to the list.
Elsewhere in the speech, Cox asked gun owners to join him in disobeying gun registration laws so that there will be too many violators to be prosecuted, saying “When everyone is on the list, no one is on the list.”
He got boisterous laughter and applause again when he told a story about a police officer at a gun show once telling him he was on some kind of watch list. “Really, well you’re on our list,” Cox said he responded.
In the trial, Cox is charged along with Coleman Barney from the North Pole area and Lonnie Vernon of Salcha. Thursday’s testimony wrapped up the first week of a trial that’s supposed to run Monday to Thursday for four to six weeks.
By the end of the week, there were about 15 to 20 spectators in the courtroom during most parts of the testimony, including family of Cox and Barney, U.S. Marshals, legal staff and a few curious onlookers.
That’s down from the beginning of the trial, when there was a group of more than 40 with a larger security presence and more media outlets including reporters from Alaska Dispatch, the Alaska Pubic Radio Network, the Anchorage Daily News, the Associated Press, Anchorage TV station KTVA, the L.A. Times, Reuters and political blog The Mudflats.