Search Warrant Results Kick Off Second Week of Fairbanks '2-4-1' Militia Trial
Defense attorneys could call Thesing as a witness, but he would be able to avoid questions by using his 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination, she said.
Also over Haden’s objection, U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan let prosecutors present a redacted form of several “goodbye letters” to the jury.
A pile of typed letters were found with written instructions to JR Olson — an FBI informant in the militia — to mail them if both Vernon and his wife Karen Vernon died, according to the trooper who testified Monday that he found it in the Vernons’ truck.
The letter, signed by both Vernons, tells the recipient that they are receiving the letter because the Vernons died in combat, fighting federal troops trying to take their land.
In the handwritten section to Olson, the letter writer appeared to have no knowledge that he was secretly working for the FBI.
“Thank you for you unwavering friendship and brotherhood,” it said. “We were thankful to have had the opportunity to fight for liberty alongside you.”
Haden objected to the letter’s relevance, saying it was really related to a second case against Vernon in which he and his wife are accused of threatening to kill a federal judge and others over a tax dispute.
Bryan agreed to redact the second paragraph of the letter, which dealt most explicitly with the tax case. He also instructed jurors that they could use the letters as evidence of Lonnie Vernon’s perspective, but could not consider it evidence of a conspiracy with Cox and Barney, neither of whom are mentioned in the letter.
Attorneys originally forecast the trial for Cox, Vernon and Barney would run about six weeks, with about four weeks for prosecutors’ case and two weeks for the defense attorneys’ case. Monday afternoon prosecutors said they believed they are about a day behind in presenting their witnesses.
After the jury was excused for the day Monday, Bryan asked prosecutors to get to the point when questioning witnesses.
“We’re drowning in detail,” he said.
Thus far the jury has heard from more than a dozen FBI, ATF and local law enforcement witnesses, mostly to testify about weapons, militia paperwork and other pieces of evidence taken in searches of home and vehicles.