A onetime Alaska militia leader sentenced in 2012 to 26 years in prison for masterminding a plot to murder federal agents and local police officers saw his sentence reduced by 10 years this week, thanks to an appellate court ruling.
A federal judge in Washington state on Tuesday reduced Schaeffer Cox’s sentence to 16 years. While an appeals court in 2017 overturned his earlier conviction on a charge that he had solicited the murders of federal agents and police officers, it had upheld his conviction on conspiracy charges in the case, and ordered his resentencing.
Cox, now 35, was convicted in 2012 of nine federal charges—seven of them illegal firearms counts—related to the conspiracy he and members of Peacemaker Militia led to kill a judge and law-enforcement officers. The jury acquitted him of other charges, including carrying a handgun while conspiring to purchase destructive devices and possession of a handgun while discussing the murder conspiracy.
The militiamen in 2010 hatched a conspiracy to kill two government officials for every one militia member who was killed—what they had called their “241,” or two-for-one, plan.
On recordings made by federal informants, Cox had talked about killing judges in their homes at night and about outgunning state troopers. He also discussed hanging court employees to dangle like the “wind chimes of liberty.”
Cox’s militia in fact was a classic sovereign-citizens organization, built around the belief that federal and state governments are illegitimate entities and that people can declare their independence from them by declaring themselves so through a blizzard of bizarre court filings and by wielding pseudo-legal gobbledygook at anyone who crosses their path. If that someone happens to be a law enforcement officer from an “illegitimate” government, they believe they have the right to kill them.
Cox makes this belief explicit in videos he recorded well before his arrest:
COX: If there came a time where they were endangering my family, you bet I would kill those federal agents. And what kind of a father and husband would I be if I wouldn't? Would I sacrifice my family on the altar of submission to the wicked state? No, that would be despicable, we would highly criticize anybody who did that, stood by and watched in history. And we've got to reckon with the fact that that's our time right now.
Now, we have those agents -- with 3500 guys we have tremendous resources at our disposal. And we had those guys under 24-hour surveillance -- the six trouble-causers that came up from the federal government. And we could have had them killed within 20 minutes of giving the order. But we didn't because they had not yet done it.
Published with permission from Daily Kos.