Judge drops hindering charge in Fairbanks murder plot case

Sam Friedman | Fairbanks News-Miner

FAIRBANKS -- An Anchorage judge has thrown out the one criminal charge against Rachel A. Barney, a tangential defendant in the Fairbanks militia "241" case.

Barney had never been accused of the more serious crimes faced by her husband and four others, which include conspiring to kill Alaska State Troopers, a judge and court officials.

She was charged with one felony count of hindering prosecution for letting co-defendant Schaeffer Cox stay at her home this spring.

Prosecutors alleged she knew about plans to order weapons and to smuggle Cox out of the state.

In the court order signed Friday, Superior Court Judge David Stewart twice said it is not fair to assume Barney knew her husband was making illegal plans simply because she is married to him.

He also said prosecutors charged Barney under the wrong law. The law she was charged under has to do with being an accessory to a crime after the fact, but the alleged "241" conspiracy had not been carried out when the five main suspects were arrested. He said there was another law that would have been more appropriate that has to do with helping someone with an uncompleted crime.

After her indictment, Barney was judged not to be a flight risk and was released to her own recognizance. Her husband and the other four defendants remain incarcerated awaiting trial.

"There was just no basis for it (the criminal charge)," her lawyer Gary Stapp said Thursday. "It was just a way to put pressure on Coleman."

Prosecutors could re-file charges, but Stapp said he does not anticipate it.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner