The weapons and conspiracy trial of three Fairbanks militia members continued into its third day Wednesday with the introduction of seized guns, ammunition and documents, some brought into the federal courthouse, others as pictures projected on a big screen.
Federal prosecutors are taking the early days of the trial to set the groundwork for the weeks ahead. They're systematically -- and somewhat tediously -- working with witnesses from the FBI and Alaska State Troopers to show the jury what their search warrants uncovered in the homes and a trailer belonging to the three defendants, Schaeffer Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon.
On Wednesday morning, FBI Agent Jolene Goeden showed photographs of thousands of rounds of ammunition seized in March 2011 from a large white trailer owned by Barney that was found parked at a Fairbanks ice park after the three men were arrested.
FBI agents had thought the trailer would be at the home of one of the suspects. When it wasn't there when the men were arrested March 10, 2011, it set off a frantic search that included the use of aircraft. Officials knew from an informant that the trailer was filled with weapons and were concerned on two fronts -- that other militia members, upset with the arrests of their leadership, might stage an attack using the ordnance, or that it could pose an explosion hazard to innocent bystanders if something inside ignited accidentally.
Barney eventually told a U.S. Marshal where it was.
In addition to the ammo, the trailer also held a sniper rifle, a tripod-mounted semi automatic rifle, an M-16 assault rifle and grenade launchers, as well as supplies and equipment for Barney's contracting business, Mammoth Electric.
Goeden also showed another copy of the 17 "Acts of War" that was found in the trailer. Unlike the one found in Cox's house and entered as evidence Tuesday, this one had checkmarks next to the acts that presumably had already taken place, including firearms restrictions, confiscation of "any property," federalization of law enforcement and the surrendering of power to a corporation or foreign government.
Only three acts remained unchecked: "mandatory medical anything," elimination of gold, cash or barter, and the use of chips or marks to track, control or monitor.
Cox, the 28-year-old leader of the Alaska Peacemaker Militia and an ideological force in the Alaska "sovereign citizen" movement, once rescinded a guilty plea to a 2010 reckless endangerment charge by filing a notice to the recorder's office in Fairbanks. A copy of the notice and other filings in his case were among the documents seized in the search of the home of co-defendant Barney, 37, a major in the militia.
The jury saw a copy of the seized set of documents -- the standard court order dated March 10, 2010, accepting his plea deal, providing for no jail time and two years probation, and the surreal documents Cox used to abrogate the plea, including the paperwork for his now-famous "trial" in a Denny's restaurant before a jury of his pals in which he was acquitted. Among the papers was the document filed in the recorder's office -- a repository mainly for land transactions -- in which Cox captioned his case, "State of Alaska, a fiction, plaintiff, v Schaeffer Cox, a natural Man, victim and witness, waiving no rights, EVER."
Interspersed with written ramblings were displays of the arsenals the men had amassed: Kalashnikov- and M-16-style assault rifles, numerous pistols and long rifles, hundreds of ammo clips, launchers for firing pepper-spray and tear-gas type canisters along with dozens of those rounds, powder and explosives. Troopers and FBI seized numerous body armor vests, handcuffs, a lock-pick kit, police duty belts and a "go bag" with 10 hand-held radios, batteries, pistols, an assault rifle, loaded magazines and a roll of duct tape.
Alaska State Trooper Joshua Rallo said he counted 20,000 rounds of ammunition in a storage pantry on the first floor of Barney's home in North Pole adjacent to his office.
At each break in the proceedings, one of the prosecutors and an FBI agent would wheel out the evidence already presented to the jury and return with a cart filled with more stuff, some of it quite heavy. And there are still days to go in this phase of the trial.
The defense attorneys have not been saying much, but on one occasion, Barney's attorney, Tim Dooley, asked Rallo whether everything he seized "was legal for a citizen to own?"
"Provided they're not a felon, I guess," Rallo replied.
There's been almost no evidence about how the defendants amassed their armaments, or managed to pay for them. Prosecutors introduced a credit card receipt from Cox for $583 to Far North Tactical, a Fairbanks arms and police-supply merchant, and the phone number for the shop showed up on other seized paperwork.
They also introduced a mail-order box for a 37mm grenade launcher from a company called American Ammo from Ohio, and the stern instructions that came with it, warning that using the product for anything other than as a low-powered "wildlife control banger" could get the user in serious trouble with the federal government.