Tuesday, January 24, 2012

LDS Militiaman Coleman Barney Now Indicted By Federal Grand Jury For Murder Conspiracy In Alaska, Could Face Life Imprisonment

Update June 7th, 2012: Coleman Barney testifies in his own defense; updated post HERE.

Update May 10th, 2012: Trial of Coleman Barney currently in progress, expected to last through mid-June. Daily summaries and media links available at Alaska Pride.

On January 23rd, 2012, a federal grand jury in Anchorage, Alaska returned a superseding indictment of Alaska Peacemaker Militia members Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney, and Lonnie Vernon for murder conspiracy in what has become known as the 241 case. Barney was previously identified as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, assigned to the Eielson Ward in North Pole, Alaska. All three individuals pleaded not guilty, and the trial, originally scheduled to begin on February 6th, has now been pushed forward to May 7th. The Anchorage Daily News has two stories on the two-day hearing; Day One and Day Two.

-- Read the complete 24-page indictment HERE. The murder conspiracy charges are reflected in Counts 12-16 of the new indictment. Count 12 is the heavy count that could bring life imprisonment.

To briefly recap this increasingly complex case, Cox, Barney, Vernon and two others were arrested in March 2011 following a joint state-federal investigation into Cox's activities. Investigators allege Cox had swayed his followers to help him avoid prosecution in other matters, and had convinced them to participate in kidnapping and killing of government officials -- state troopers, a judge, U.S. Marshals, TSA officials, and personnel with the U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security -- as retaliation in the event any of them attempted to apprehend Cox. The plan was dubbed the "241 Plan", meaning for every militia member taken out, two cops would be taken out. Plans allegedly included staging armed patrols in public places and acquiring and making illegal weapons.

Much of the federal case revolves around two informants expected to testify for the government. Gerald Olson is the "dirty" informant in the case, having made three felony charges go away in exchange for his cooperation. Despite defrauding numerous customers, he ended up pleading guilty only to second-degree theft, and got probation. In contrast, William Fulton, who formerly owned Drop Zone Security, is the "clean" informant, facing no charges, but who suddenly disappeared from view after the initial arrests of the Schaeffer Cox crew in March 2011. The credibility of both informants has been already challenged by the defense lawyers; in fact, the parallel state case against the three was abandoned by state prosecutors on October 17th, 2011 when Alaska Superior Court Judge David Stewart ruled that more than 100 hours of audio and video surveillance could not be used as evidence in the state's case. Under Alaska state law, which offers greater privacy protections than the U.S. Constitution, the judge ruled the warrantless recordings unconstitutional.

Coleman Barney has steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout his ordeal, which now stretches into the tenth month. During this time, Barney's repeated requests for bail have been denied, cutting him off from his family, congregation, and community. Numerous members of his ward have written supportive letters attesting to Barney's sound character and patriotism. The LDS Church customarily does not take action against the membership of someone in this situation unless or until they're found guilty in a court of law.

It is apparent that the ringleader, Schaeffer Cox, shot off his mouth a bit too loudly about his dissatisfaction with government, and the feds have decided to come down hard on him and his cohorts to administer an object lesson to anyone who dissents in this country. This indictment is the third handed down during this sequence, which implies that the feds are haphazardly flinging as much poo at the walls as they can in hopes that enough of it will stick to get a conviction.

For more background on this case:

-- Anchorage Daily News portal to past stories HERE.

-- Fairbanks Daily News-Miner portal to past stories partially available via this story.

-- Read all Alaska Pride posts on this case HERE.

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