Alaska militia leader seeks retrial after sentence reduction

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska An Alaska militia leader imprisoned for a plot to kill government officials is seeking a retrial for one of eight charges following a reduction of his sentence, according to court documents.

Schaeffer Cox’s attorney filed a motion seeking a retrial for a charge of conspiracy to murder federal officials, The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.

Cox was convicted in 2013 on eight charges, including the murder conspiracy count.

Cox was a self-described sovereign citizen and leader of the Fairbanks-based Alaska Peacemakers Militia when he was arrested in 2010.

Cox and other militia members planned to kidnap or kill two government or law enforcement officials for each one of the militia’s members arrested or killed in a plot called “241,” prosecutors said. Two undercover informants recorded conversations with militia members trying to buy weapons, including grenades, to carry out the plot.

A Washington state judge last week took 10 years off Cox’s sentence of nearly 26 years as a result of a 2017 appeals court decision to overturn his conviction for solicitation to commit murder.

A Washington appellate panel found the conviction for solicitation to commit murder conviction was unjust because it was based on Cox bringing armed and armored bodyguards to a radio appearance in North Pole for protection against a federal “hit team” that did not exist.

The justification for dismissing the solicitation count leaves the conspiracy count in question because prosecutors used the same arguments to achieve both convictions, defense attorney Michael Filipovic said.

“There’s really no longer a basis for concluding that there was a unanimous jury verdict on the conspiracy count,” Filipovic said.