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Alaska militia leader Schaeffer Cox to appeal his conviction, sentence

Alaska Dispatch

Schaeffer Cox, the boyish anti-government activist and skilled orator from Fairbanks, Alaska, has given notice he will appeal his federal conviction for murder conspiracy, weapons violations and the nearly 26-year sentence that goes with them.

Cox, 28, made himself out to be the commander of a strong militia preparing for government collapse and the possibility of self defense in the event state or federal government officials came after him.

He'd developed a loyal following – though seemingly small compared to what he envisioned – and formed several groups, including the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, in service to his political agenda and personal beliefs.

Cox and other members of the militia were convicted in connection with the attempted purchase of illegal weapons – unregistered silencers and hand grenades – and Cox and militia foot soldier Lonnie Vernon were convicted of scheming to kill state and federal judges and other members of government and law enforcement.

Cox came to believe a federal hit squad had been sent to assassinate him and his family, and had taken steps to resist capture with deadly force, in addition to developing a plan to flee the country.

At his sentencing Tuesday, Cox revealed that he'd come to accept he may be mentally ill, suffering perhaps from paranoid schitzophrenia and other personality disorders that affected his world view and sent him deep into paranoia and delusion, which triggered extreme reactions to otherwise minor situations. It wasn't until a psychological evaluation ordered by his attorney delivered the diagnosis, and Cox's family agreed it made sense, that Cox said he began to come to terms with the fact that something in his life, his mind, might be wrong.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bryan didn't allow the findings to lessen Cox’s sentence, determining that Cox was dangerous and his mental health status likely only made worsened matters. Plus, the crimes Cox stands convicted of are extremely serious, and could have landed him a life sentence.

Peter Camiel, the attorney who represented Cox at sentencing, filed the appeal but has since stepped aside, saying he's not currently credentialed to work at the appeal level on Cox's behalf, and also that he suspects there's a possibility he'll be called as a witness as the case moves forward.