Prosecutors move to dismiss murder conspiracy charge

Richard Mauer

Prosecutors moved Friday to dismiss the murder conspiracy charge against Fairbanks militia member Coleman Barney, the sole count that was undecided in 21 verdicts delivered by a federal jury Monday.

The one paragraph motion, filed Friday afternoon, offered no explanation for why prosecutors wanted to dismiss the charge. U.S. District Judge Robert Bryan would have to rule favorably on the motion before the charge could be dismissed.

After five weeks of trial, the jury deadlocked on the murder conspiracy charge even as it convicted Barney, 37, of conspiring to possess unregistered silencers and destructive devices and possessing an unregistered 37mm launcher and anti-personnel round for the launcher. Barney was acquitted of possessing four demilitarized hand grenades capable to conversation to live weapons, possessing four other anti-personnel rounds and two additional launchers, and carrying a firearm during a crime of violence.

Prosecutors could have sought to retry Barney, a major in the Alaska Peacemaker Militia, but they would have had to repeat a substantial portion of the original five-week trial.

The jury wasn't asked to report its vote on the deadlocked charge.

Conspiracy to murder federal law enforcement officers carries a life sentence. Barney still faces prison on his two convictions: the conspiracy charge carries a five-year maximum and the possession of the launcher and anti-personnel round carries a 10-year maximum. Barney's attorney said he plans to appeal the possession count.

Barney's two co-defendants, militia commander Schaeffer Cox and militia sergeant Lonnie Vernon, haven't announced whether they intend to appeal.

Reach Richard Mauer at or 257-4345.

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