'Mission 241' Among Paperwork Found in Fairbanks Militia Member's Home
Defendant Schaeffer Cox is shown at left
ANCHORAGE — Jurors took a look at piles of militia paperwork, two of the the defendants’ homes and more than a dozen weapons Wednesday at the federal courthouse in Anchorage as prosecutors argued that three men from the Fairbanks area had planned to use the weapons to kill U.S. government employees.
During the second day of testimony at a trial that is supposed to last four to six weeks, prosecutors called a pair of FBI agents and a pair of Alaska State Troopers. Attorneys for defendants Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon had few objections and spent little time cross-examining the witnesses — although they asked them to clarify that the many of the semi-automatic firearms and empty grenade bodies shown to the jury are legal to own.
In the large cache of physical evidence, jurors saw the handwritten words “mission 241” on a legal pad that an FBI agent testified was taken from Barney’s home on Silver Street in the North Pole area, which he shares with his wife and five children.
Prosecutors say the defendants, members of the Peacemakers Militia led by Cox, are part of the Sovereign Citizen movement, whose members believe they are not subject to U.S. laws because the U.S. government has violated their rights and strayed from the U.S. Constitution. Prosecutors allege the defendants had plans as early as 2009 to kill U.S. government employees who had gotten on the wrong side of Cox. The defendants also are accused of forming a plan in 2011 called two-for-one “241,” to kidnap or kill two law enforcement officers or court officials for any any one militia member arrested or killed in any attempt to execute an arrest warrant on Cox.
The page with the words “mission 241” also had information that appeared to have to do with a new recruit to the Peacemakers militia and a note to sign up for a Twitter account and follow the account “00SchaefferCox.” Elsewhere, the writing on the pad mixed to-do lists for jobs like making rental car arrangements and paragraphs criticizing the U.S. government.
Prosecutors did not move to establish that the notes were in fact written by Barney at Wednesday’s hearing. They have previously said Cox and his family lived in Barney’s home for a few weeks before their arrest on March 10 because Cox had a warrant for his arrest on a now-dismissed misdemeanor weapons charge.
Throughout the day, jurors looked at photographs of exhibits on a projector screen and saw some items handled directly. FBI agents unwrapped items including pistols, grenades, body armor, gas masks and handcuffs and held them up for the jury to see.
At one point, while jurors were looking at a Sten automatic machine gun allegedly owned by Cox, trial Judge Robert J. Byran reassured jurors that the guns all have ties on them so they cannot be fired in the courtroom.
The prosecution’s witnesses also testified about a search of the split-level house where Cox lived with his wife and two children on Scenic Loop, off Farmers Loop.
Several items, prosecutors said, came from a den separated from Cox’s bedroom by a book case. In this room, photos show a baby crib and two flagpoles with the American and “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.
Jurors looked at a DVD about how to make firearm silencers that prosecutors said Cox bought online in January 2008. They also saw papers and a white board with information about a security detail Cox organized for himself in November because he said he feared government assassins were going to kill him while he gave an interview an North Pole TV station KJNP.
The board and papers had instructions for how to equip the security detail (pistols, rifles, tear gas canisters) and also rules of engagement for using these weapons.
“Don’t shoot unless life is in danger,” read a paper checklist.
A few items down it read “Local kill not ok” and in the next item “Agent only if life danger.”
For scheduling reasons, the trial is only running Monday through Thursday, so this week’s testimony will end this afternoon.
Contact Fairbanks Daily News-Miner staff writer Sam Friedman at 907-459-7545. Follow him on Twitter, @FDNMcrime.