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6 attend hearing on alleged militia murder plot

Posted: April 6, 2011 - 9:26pm

FAIRBANKS — Six militia members accused in an alleged plot to kill law enforcement and state officials have appeared together in a Fairbanks courtroom for the first time.

The six attended a hearing Tuesday during which Superior Court Judge David Stewart revealed that authorities had more than 100 hours of sound recordings and images seized from the defendants’ computers.

Five of the defendants are accused of planning to kidnap two Alaska state troopers or a state judge in retaliation for an attempt to arrest a militia member. Authorities say the five are leaders of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia and had planned to kill the two victims if a militia member was killed during the alleged plot.

State and federal prosecutors have released documents used to justify their search and arrest, including details of a 10-month FBI monitoring program that used at least two confidential informants.

The sixth person, Rachel Barney, had been arraigned separately on charges of harboring Cox when he was a fugitive in an unrelated weapons case. Prosecutors say her North Pole home was used to hide Cox, as well as weapons for the alleged murder plot.

Prosecutors say Cox became a fugitive after he failed to show up for trial Feb. 14 on an unrelated misdemeanor weapons charge. Cox used that case to challenge the state court system, calling it a for-profit corporation not applicable to him.

Two of the defendants also are accused of a plot to kill an IRS employee and a federal judge over a long-standing tax conflict, according to the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. The trial was scheduled to begin May 30.

The defendants, all of whom live in the Fairbanks area, are Cox; Michael Anderson; Rachel Barney’s husband, Coleman Barney; and Lonnie Vernon and his wife, Karen.

Four were in federal custody without bail, and a fifth was in state custody on $2 million bail.

Barney was ordered released without bail, but she was not allowed to leave the state or speak with her co-defendants about the case.

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