Attorneys for Schaeffer Cox have asked a court to throw out murder conspiracy charges against their client, who is accused of plotting to kill a federal judge, because of the way the grand jury was conducted.
Cox, a self-proclaimed sovereign citizen and leader of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, was arrested in March, along with Coleman Barney, Lonnie and Karen Vernon, and Michael O. Anderson, for allegedly stockpiling weapons as part of a plot to kill two Alaska State Troopers, an IRS employee, and the federal judge.
In two motions filed last week, Cox's attorneys argued that the grand jury process was mishandled and treated like "high school," and therefore the murder conspiracy charges should be thrown out.
In one motion, Cox's attorney Robert John argued that the grand jury was not properly instructed on the burden of proof necessary for indictments. In the other motion, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reports:
In one of the filings in the Cox case, attorney Robert John quotes a prosecutor in the grand jury transcript who appears to pick a foreperson out of the grand jury for arriving late, saying "that's what you get for showing up late. It's just like high school."
The procedure violates the criminal rule that a grand jury itself or a judge should pick the foreperson, John says in the filing.
"Schaeffer Cox has the constitutional right to be indicted by a grand jury, not by a high-school teacher and the class he teaches," the motion says.
Prosecutors on Wednesday also filed a motion to block the release of Coleman Barney. Barney's attorneys have been pushing for his release on bail because, as they argue, he "has a history of contributing to the community, not destroying it." Superior Court Judge David C. Stewart reduced Barney's bail from $2 million to $100,000 in June, though Barney's attorneys must still convince a federal judge of the same.
But in the motion filed this week, prosecutors provided additional evidence against Barney in protest of his release. They also detailed the weapons allegedly found in his trailer -- including body armor, hand cuffs, a gas mask, a number of grenades, and "assorted" guns and ammunition.
Stephen Skrocki wrote in the motion:
The Coleman Barney, father of five, business owner and member of the community referenced in the defense pleadings and in letters of support is not the same Coleman Barney who elected to arrive to an illegal arms sale wearing body armor and carrying two loaded pistols. It is not the Coleman Barney who, during this arms sale held and examined with his own hands what he thought were live hand grenades, and a pistol silencer combination. It was not the same Coleman Barney who sought to purchase tactical weapons which only exist to kill either violently, secretly, or furtively.
"Despite the order of the state court," Skrocki wrote, "which may have not been in command of these facts due to the volume of discovery, Coleman Barney's motion for bail must be denied. The risk to the community, the danger to the community and the risk of flight or absconding are simply too great."