The jury found Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon all guilty of conspiring to possess unlicensed silencers and grenade parts, but not guilty of possessing firearms. Cox and Vernon were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder, while Cox and Barney were found guilty of possessing grenade launchers and cartridges.
Cox was also found guilty of soliciting the murder of federal officials, as well as manufacturing and possessing silencers, possessing grenade parts and two counts of possessing machine guns. Barney was found not guilty of possessing grenade parts.
The jury also deadlocked on one count against Barney of conspiracy to commit murder, prompting District Court Judge Robert Bryan to declare a mistrial on the charge and ask that the partial verdict be read, despite requests from Cox’s attorneys to send the jury back for further deliberations.
Cox became angry as the verdict was read, telling jurors, "The prosecutors withheld evidence from you guys." He looked at his wife Marti Cox and cried as bailiffs led him away, refusing to speak with reporters.
Monday’s verdict against Cox, who along with Vernon and Barney faced a total of 16 felony charges, came after two full days of deliberations and a month-long trial. The jury received the case Thursday, when prosecutors completed their rebuttal to the defense’s closing arguments.
Federal agents conducted Fairbanks raids on militia members’ property in March 2011, seizing a cache of weapons including machine guns, grenades, launchers and pistols with silencers illegally attached. Five people -- the three defendants in the federal case, as well as Karen Vernon and Michael Anderson -- were initially arrested on charges including conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to commit kidnapping.
Prosecutors say Cox, Vernon and Barney were planning to act on an alleged “241” plot, which involved kidnapping two federal officials for every militia member arrested or killing two officials for every member killed. Their closing arguments cited “The Solution,” a Montana speech by Cox posted on YouTube in which he claimed to have 3,500 men at his command.
In closing arguments for the defense, attorneys claimed that the men were merely survivalists engaging in tough talk about what they might have to do following an overthrow of the government, characterizing it as speech protected by the First Amendment of the Constitution. They also said many of the seized weapons weren’t functional, and that an FBI informant offering arms sales had entrapped their clients.
A sentencing date has been set for Sept. 14.
This is a developing story. Please check KTUU.com and the Channel 2 newscasts for updates.
Email Rebecca Palsha