Young Schaeffer Cox has already been acquitted of trying to kill a federal judge, an IRS agent and an Alaska state trooper. The jury might have been partial, however, being they were his fellow militia members from Washington state, holding a kangaroo court in their imaginary sovereign nation where they pay no taxes and make their license plates out of wood.
The Tacoma judge, Robert J. Bryan, was brought in because one of Cox's co-defendants, Lonnie Vernon, is accused in a separate case of plotting to kill U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline and members of the judge's family. Prosecutors says Vernon was angry over the judge's rulings in a federal income tax case, Reuters reports. That second murder-plot trial is set to begin in September.
Those cases are unfolding just as two Washington state sovereigns have begun their own prison terms. Timothy Garrison of Mount Vernon is doing 3 1/2 years for filing false tax returns and threatening to arrest Skagit County officials for arresting him. And David Myrland is doing a similar stretch for threatening to use deadly force to arrest Kirkland's mayor. (Myrland has also filed a brilliant lawsuit accusing authorities of conspiring against him by using poor grammar).
Meanwhile, Kenneth Leaming of Spanaway, a former Thurston County sheriff's deputy, is accused of filing false claims against against federal judges, saying he is owed at least $225 billion, while another sovereign, Raymond Jarlik Bell of Yelm and his wife face yet more tax-fraud charges.
According to federal prosecutors and hate-group surveys, the Washington and Alaska sovereigns number in the hundreds and are associated as members of the Assemblies on the Counties at Large. They believe common law was America's original legal system but at some point was covertly replaced by a system based on admiralty law, and claim they're not bound by it.
The Assemblies have an armed wing, called the "County Rangers," who are required to own firearms, and possess and display realistic looking badges and credentials. Cox and his fellow Alaska travelers took that a step further, according to court records, planning to kidnap or kill two police officers, government officials or judges for every militia member who might be arrested for violating laws they don't recognize, such as the U.S. tax code.
Threats by the Assemblies have also been made against Gov. Chris Gregoire and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg. Members of the Skagit and Pierce assembly, comprising a "common law jury," last year declared Cox not guilty of the felony charges he faces in Alaska - a ruling without legal effect.
Cox, 28-year-old leader of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia and who once believed in government enough to run unsuccessfully for a state legislative seat, earlier told the Anchorage court the government was wrongly trying him for speaking out. "I am a critic," he said, "not a criminal." As for those grenade launchers and that machine gun? Purely sport.