No New Trial for Fairbanks Militia Defendant Barney Coleman
FAIRBANKS — Prosecutors will not be pursuing a new trial for Coleman Barney, the only one out of the three defendants from the Alaska Peacemakers Militia who was not convicted of conspiracy to murder government workers.
After more than a month of testimony and two days of deliberations, jurors deadlocked on the murder conspiracy charge for Barney. The jury convicted him on two weapons charges and acquitted him on two others.
Prosecutors indicated they would not try Barney again on the murder conspiracy charge in a motion to dismiss the indictment filed Friday.
Barney was a major, the third-highest rank, in the Fairbanks-based Alaska Peacemakers Militia led by Schaeffer Cox. Prosecutors argued in trial Barney worked with Cox to develop a retaliatory plan to kill law enforcement and other officials if they tried to prosecute Cox on a misdemeanor weapons charge. Cox, a member of the national sovereign citizen movement, told his followers U.S. laws were corrupt and did not apply to them.
Barney comes out the trial with considerably less exposure to jail time than his co-defendants. With the two remaining charges Barney faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in jail.
Cox and Lonnie Vernon both face a maximum of life in prison on the murder conspiracy charge. Cox was convicted of nine of 11 charges, while Vernon was convicted of two of three.
The sentencing for all three defendants is scheduled for September.
Vernon, and his wife Karen Vernon face additional federal charges that they threatened to kill a federal judge, his family and IRS employees over a tax dispute. That case is scheduled to go to trial in the fall.
During the trial, which took place at the federal building in Anchorage, the government called dozens of witnesses. They included Gerald Olson who joined the militia and recorded more than 100 hours of meetings and Michael O. Anderson, a friend of Cox who was arrested with the others in March 2010 was freed last fall when state dropped charges against him. Anderson testified he researched addresses of government employees for Cox but grew uneasy about what Cox was using the information for.
Cox and Barney both took the witness stand in their own defense. Their attorneys argued the retaliatory plan was instigated by government informants and was more of a self-defense plan than a murder plan.
Cox’s attorney Nelson Traverso and Barney’s attorney Tim Dooley have both said they are likely to appeal the convictions.