For the more than 15 months that Coleman Barney has been jailed on suspicions he planned to kill federal officials in defense of his militia commander, Schaeffer Cox, he's missed the birth of his fifth child and his 16th wedding anniversary. His tight-knit family hopes the weeks-long trial will finally bring an end to an ordeal they're bewildered got this far.
"He doesn't even know his baby. He wants to come home," said Rachel Barney, who has been an ever-present fixture in numerous courtroom hearings over the months leading up to trial. "I still believe in my husband, and nothing will ever change."
Barney was considered an officer in the Schaeffer Cox-commanded Alaska Peacemakers Militia. He, along with Cox and Lonnie Vernon, are on trial and accused of seven federal felonies stemming from involvement in a violent, anti-government plot targeting federal employees. The most serious charge against him, conspiracy to murder, carries a possible life sentence. Other charges include a handful of weapons violations.
Some of the charges accuse Barney of possessing hand grenades and loaded grenade launchers that were never legally registered. Other charges accuse him of carrying legal firearms, but doing so while planning or carrying out the murder conspiracy.
The charges stem from two days in Barney's life: one in November 2010, when he ran an armed security detail for Cox at a television station in Fairbanks, Alaska; the other in March 2011, on the day of the arrests, when an FBI informant had supposedly arranged to sell him and Cox a pistol-silencer combo and grenades.