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Militia Trial: Cox’s 2nd in Command Testifies

FBI informant Bill Fulton was the star of the show on the last day of court this week, no doubt about that. But, we shouldn’t overlook the rest of the witnesses because there were some good ones. The morning started with motions from the defense, which the judge resolved by mid-morning. I wrote about that HERE. Next up were a string of witnesses for the defense, beginning with Mr. Harold M. Hume, Jr. of Fairbanks who was completely adorable, and I basically wanted to adopt him as my grandpa. He’s actually probably closer to being the age of my dad, but I can’t wrap my mind around that, so humor me.

Before I forget, let’s do our hoodie count. We have 2 hoodies in the jury today – the usual suspect, and one other. The usual suspect was actually not wearing a hoodie the other day and I almost didn’t recognize him!

First witness for the defense: Harold M. Hume, Jr. of Fairbanks.

Nelson Traverso for Schaeffer Cox questions him about how he knows the defendant.

“Primarily, I met him at church. His father is my pastor. Our first encounter was at church, casually.”

Traverso then asks for his background:

I’m approaching 80, how far back do you want me to go? (He and the courtroom chuckle. Love him!) I started as a ranch hand in Montana, progressed through retail sales, the army during Korea, served in Korea at close of war, came home and got involved in sales of photographic equipment. I came to Alaska in 1956, worked as a teamster in Fairbanks, entered the University of Alaska in 1957, spent 3 years as student, worked as a firefighter, and a city police officer in Fairbanks. In 1960 I was in the Alaska State Police, later known as State Troopers until 1975. My work varied from traffic officer to investigations. I served in Anchorage, Ketchikan, Douglas, and in 1963 I was promoted to Investigator in Fairbanks until 1968, when I was promoted to Sgt. – field commander outpost in the region. After that I took early retirement in 1975, worked on the pipeline for 3 years in camps from Tonsina to northern camps like Franklin Bluffs. After I left Alyeska, I obtained a real estate license, Regional Director for Operations at the DoT in Fairbanks. I was responsible for 6000 miles of road, 38 airports and all the buildings. That was 3 years, and then I was replaced politically and opened my own real estate office, and then retired.

Traverso: In 2008-9 did you organize a group of men to meet together to discuss the situation with the economy?

Hume: I did not organize it, no. I attended meetings about the second amendment. I’m interested in the 2nd amendment. I attended a couple meetings there.

Traverso: Did you at some point meet with a group of men with similar background to discuss issues of the day in 2008-9?

Hume: Schaeffer had seen me in those meetings, and invited me to attend a couple early morning meetings in his home. It was 6-8 Christian men, not just from my church, but others – men who were concerned with what was perceived at the time as a possible breakdown of the government at different levels. It was just a casual meeting discussing how we would take care of our families. I went through the earthquake and the floods, and I had the opportunity to observe how government functioned, and I hate to be frank, but I have to say that what appears to be a solid government can break down very quickly in situations of those types.

Traverso: Was the purpose to have more meetings, and form some sort of organization?

Hume: These meetings were a group of 6 or 8 Christian men concerned with how do we take care of our families in case of a breakdown of government or services. How do we assure we’re going to have coal coming from Healy? What do we do when we no longer have food coming in? Having been exposed to empty shelves during earthquake and flood time, those shelves were replaced in 3-4 weeks, but if you have a total breakdown, those may not be replaced in a reasonable amount of time.

Traverso: Do you remember planning for a militia?

Hume: There was some discussion of that. We have gangs now, and what do you do to protect yourself? The word ‘militia’ came up a couple times. We had 2 meetings at 6 o’clock, about a month apart.

Traverso: Do you remember who attended these meetings?

Hume: Les Zerbe was there, Schaeffer was there, a couple young fellas from my hearing aid company, the Clark boys, Eric Berg was there. I didn’t know all of ’em.

Traverso: Was the group concerned with the potential of violence?
Hume: Absolutely.

(There is an objection from the prosecution at Traverso’s question, which is sustained after the fact.)

Traverso: You mentioned gangs and what would you do with gangs roaming that would take whatever you had?

Hume: There’s the Alaska Defense Force…

Traverso: What did you men decide to do after – did you draft any resolutions? What did you decide to do?

Hume: There was no conclusion. These were general meetings, general discussion, how do we take care of our famies.

Traverso: Are you familiar with the Alaska Peacemakers Militia?

Hume: I remember that name beind raised as a potential group Schaeffer had talked about forming. There had been no move forward during those meetings to form… as I recall. This was a couple years ago, and my participation was very limited.

Traverso: That’s all I have.

(Clearly this did not go as the defense had planned.)

Steve Skrocki cross-examines Mr. Hume.

Skrocki: So you attended two meetings?

Hume: I probably attended more. At the Second Amendment Task Force meetings I was sitting in the audience. And another mid-morning meeting, and at that meeting he had some shirts that he passed out. At this point I was not involved in any formal activity of forming a militia.

Skrocki: Who led the discussion?

Hume: Schaeffer, but everyone participated. It was just a discussion.

Skrocki: But generally he was the one leading?

Hume: He called the meeting yes.

And that was that.

Next witness -Les Zerbe
Looks like it’s suit and tie day at the courthouse. This is a far cry from KJNP day, that’s for sure.

Mr. Zerbe has been mentioned many times so far. His name appears on a lot of the paperwork we’ve seen. He is Cox’s #2 man in the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, and he’s also the guy whom Michael Anderson says was attacked by FBI undercover informant Bill Fulton in a hotel room in Fairbanks. I’ve been interested to hear what he has to say.

Nelson Traverso asks him about his background, and how he came to know Schaeffer Cox.

Mr. Zerbe is an ordained minister, did missionary work in Africa, has been a “missionary pilot” since 1980 for missionary work in Alaska, and transports Eskimo and Athabaskan teens to camp in the summertime. He started a counseling service at the University of Alaska, and is trying to start a home for “alcohol orphans.” He has also been an assistant (hunting?) guide, and is the General Manager of a gold mine.

Zerbe looks completely stressed out. He actually has a hard time catching his breath even while he goes through his background on the stand. He looks flushed and sweaty.

“I knew Schaeffer as a young man when he came to our church running for public office. I, and the whole church was very impressed with his… through the presentation of his platform running for office.”

Nelson Traverso for Schaeffer Cox: Did you get involved in the 2nd Amendment Task Force?

Zerbe: Yes.

Traverso: How, and when?

Zerbe: It was just a meeting announced, I decided to attend. I’m a member of the NRA, and there is generally an assault on the second amendment.

Traverso: Let’s not get into that.

(You can tell that Zerbe is just itching to get his opinions out there. He has the look about him like someone who’s all pumped up with adrenaline and about to have a confrontation.)

Traverso: Was there a discussion of a potential militia being formed?

Zerbe: I don’t recall at that meeting.

Traverso: Were you involved in the formation?

Zerbe: Yes.

Traverso: Tell us about it.

Zerbe: How many hours do you have?

Traverso: When did it start and who was involved?

Zerbe: It started… the reason was because generally speaking, I can see American society…

Traverso: Just talk about why you got involved in the formation of it.

Zerbe: Because we saw law and order breaking down in America, and just as the musk ox do when in danger, they form a big circle and decide to defend themselves.

(I immediately have a Sarah Palin flashback. She has used that musk ox analogy many times.)

Traverso: What was the purpose of the militia?

Zerbe: It was strictly set up to be non-violvent non-aggressive and as the little patches said, “Defend all, Aggress none.” We were Christian…


Traverso: Where did the Alaska Peacemakers Militia form?

Zerbe: In Fairbanks.

Traverso: What was the reason for forming other than the breakdown? What was the immediate concern?

Zerbe: It was 2008, and America being in deep deep trouble economically, and I had lived through that in Africa…


…we saw the same thing happening – the economy so bad it caused civil people to flee for their lives, or make serious plans for their survival.

Traverso: How many were there?

Zerbe: About 35 guys

Traverso: Were there trainings?

Zerbe: Yes.

Traverso: Where?

Zerbe: In the Fairbanks area.

Traverso: What was your understanding of why you were going to Pike’s Landing? (The meeting with Anderson, Cox, and Fulton, etc.)

Zerbe: This gentleman was coming from somewhere to have a meeting… to have some kind of answer, we didn’t know what it was to be about, but he supposedly had resources, he was his own style soldier of fortune.

Move to strike the answer

Traverso: Who was it?

Zerbe: Bill Fulton.

Traverso: What did you understand the meeting to be about?

Zerbe: This man could supply training to our guys… I didn’t know.

Traverso: What was your response to the things he was saying?

Zerbe: I immediately suspected a setup because these kind of people just don’t come out of the blue.

Traverso: What made you suspect that?

Zerbe: His remarks to us, and that he was drinking heavily in the room. There was me and Schaeffer Cox and one other gentleman.

Traverso: Did you see that gentleman again?

Zerbe: Yes. There was a meeting the next day at a little store that used to be called Blondie’s. It’s Aaron Bennett’s gun shop. I went by myself on my motorcycle.

Traverso: What was going on?

Zerbe: I heard about meeting.

Traverso: Who called meeting?

Zerbe: Bill Fulton called it. I went there to see sc and see what the meeting was all about.

Traverso: Did Schaeffer Cox show up?

Zerbe: Yes.

Traverso: Did you see Bill Fulton there?

Zerbe: Yes.

Traverso: Who else?

Zerbe: There were others who were taking our cell phones at the front door – others I’d never seen associated with anyone before, and they looked very clean-cut to me.

Traverso: What was going on at Blondie’s?

Zerbe: It was associated with some kind of a sale.

Traverso: A fundraiser?

Zerbe: Yes.

Traverso: Do you know what it was for?

Zerbe: I don’t recall.  I just sat there thinking this was a set up because the soldier…


Zerbe: Fulton was asking some questions.

Obection! Hearsay!

Zerbe: I was there!  I saw it!  No hearsay about it!
Traverso: It’s coming…

(In Federal Rules of Evidence, “hearsay” is defined as a “statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing, offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted.”)

Traverso: Did something happen to you while you were there?

Zerbe: (still on the last exchange) He asked a question of Mr. Cox and I. Ain’t no hearsay about it!!

Judge Bryan: (To Zerbe) I’m going to have to ask that you don’t make gratuitous comments. Please limit your answers to the question. We communicate differently in court than you do in ordinary conversation. This is not a black mark against someone. We just have different rules, alright?

(Throughout Zerbe’s testimony, there have been repeated objections, and pauses, and he’s had to be reined in multiple times. I’ve caught some of them and transcribed them, but not nearly all because they went by quickly. And as his testimony has gone on, he’s gotten redder in the face, and his breath is still short. At this point he’s sort of eggplant colored.)

Traverso: Did something happen to you meeting with Mr. Fulton?

Zerbe: Mr. Fulton was not happy with my answer that I had no plan, and he came at me with a knife!

(He finally got it out! Hopefully, he can relax and not look like his head is about to explode.)

Traverso: What was your personal knowledge about what he was seeking?

Zerbe: I thought that by assaulting me and phrasing the question in that way that he was trying to force an answer from us that would prove there was some kind of conspiracy afloat.

Traverso: Who was his comment directed to?

Zerbe: It was directed to Schaeffer.

Traverso: Did you raise a hand or do anything physical to this gentleman?

Zerbe: No.

Traverso: Did you have any understanding yourself of was his purpose was in telling you this plan? What was it you understood?


Judge Bryan: It was a very leading question.

Traverso: You just said he assaulted you?

Zerbe: By really raising his voice at me. And he was drinking about 10 beers, but I thought he was sane, and making believe he ws drinking it or something, and let me believe it was a setup. He approached me and came toward me with a weapon.

Traverso: What weapon?

Zerbe: I was looking in the man’s eyes to see how serious he was on harming me. I did not see the weapon although I was told it was a knife.

Traverso: Had you had any dealings with Mr. Fulton?

Zerbe: Never.

Traverso: Did you belong to an organization called the Sons of Issachar?

Zerbe: Yes.

Traverso: When?

Zerbe: At the beginning of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia, and before we actually put any kind of serious… it wasn’t a serious militia. At the beginning, most of the men who were in this formative group that claimed to be Christian men who espoused Judeo-Christian ethics and because of their concern for the future of their families, as they perceived it, before you could form any group of Christian men, we would follow the Sons of Issachar, older men who saw the signs of the times.

(From the Book of Chronicles “…from Issachar, men who understood the times, and knew what Israel ought to do.“)

Traverso: Who were the others?

Zerbe: I wasn’t a Names Keeper, but it was me and Schaeffer, and a gentleman who is here and is to testify who was part of it.

Traverso: Did Mr. Fulton make threats to anyone other than you?

Zerbe: I was only concerned with me.

No more questions.

Tim Dooley for Coleman Barney questions Zerbe next.

Dooley: Coleman Barney – was he at Blondie’s or Far North Tactical?

Zerbe: I do not recall him being there.

No more questions.

(As a defense attorney I bet it feels good to be able to do that.)

MJ Haden for Lonnie Vernon is next:

Haden: You were a member of the Alaska Peacemakers Militia?
Zerbe: Correct.

Haden: What was your rank?
Zerbe: Second in command – like a Lt. Colonel.

Haden: Was there something called a command staff?
Zerbe: If there was, I don’t think we referred to it very much.

Haden: Did certain high ranking members meet separately from the other members?
Zerbe: Yes, once in a while.

Haden: Do you know Lonnie Vernon?
Zerbe: Yes.

Haden: Do you know what rank Lonnie Vernon was?
Zerbe: I don’t recall. He wasn’t in the very top at all…

Haden: He wasn’t a high rankig member?
Zerbe: I don’t think so.

Haden: Did he attend the meetings of the high ranking members?
Zerbe: I don’t recall any meeting he was in, in that fashion.

She is finished, and Steve Skrocki cross-examines.

Skrocki: I saw you in the hallway just now with an Alaska Peacemakers Militia manual.
Zerbe: I have read it in the past.

Skrocki: What is a “grenadier” or a “full auto guy.”
Zerbe: I suppose a grenadier would be a guy who would have the ability to know something about grenades, I think. And a full auto guy would be someone legal who would have automatic weapon certification.

Skrocki: He would have to be legal. Because you have to have a tax stamp. You’re an NRA member, so you know this. You have an AK47 in the back of the car?

Zerbe: Yep.

Skrocki: Do you carry it loaded?

Zerbe: Yep.

I missed the next little exchange, but basically it was Skrocki asking about where and when he carries it loaded in his car, and if he goes to the store with it that way. Zerbe answers that when he goes to the shooting range, he’ll have it with him, and if he stops at the store on the way home, he would still have it with him.

Skrocki: (In the hotel room,) you don’t know if Bill Fulton had a knife or not?

Zerbe: I looked in his eyes, like a pit bull. If a pit bull’s coming at you, you look in his eyes.

Skrocki: You didn’t get hurt.

Zerbe: It felt like I was.

Skrocki: You had a gun.

Zerbe: Yes.

Skrocki: A .45 in your coat pocket. You think he’s coming at you.

Zerbe: Yes.

Skrocki: Under oath you said you never saw a knife.

Zerbe: I didn’t see it clearly, but it was some kind of weapon. I just saw he had a weapon in one hand.

Skrocki: Now it’s in one hand? How do you know?

Zerbe: You usually carry your hand differently if you’re holding a weapon.

Skrocki: And you didn’t tell a trooper.

Zerbe: Nope.

Skrocki: Because you’d have to tell the troopers where you were (and what you were doing).

Zerbe: I haven’t had any luck with the troopers about much of anything.

Skrocki: They would have asked you questions.

Zerbe: Maybe.

Skrocki: About this guy regarding his knife or not?

Zerbe: Most likely.

Skrocki: Are you carrying a .45 concealed?

Zerbe: Yeah.

Skrocki: Do you have a permit?

Zerbe: Yeah.

Skrocki: For how long?

Zerbe: Everyone in Alaska now has the right to carry now. I think it’s expired by now, but since you don’t have to have one, I didn’t renew it.

Skrocki: You’re not a big list guy about who attended these meetings…

Zerbe: I was not the record keeper.

Skrocki: Let me see if I can help you with that.

He shows an email from Hal Hume on the screen. It is covered with hand-written notes. At the top it says “S of I militia?” And below it there is a list of names followed either by “yes” or “no.”

Skrocki: Could that refer to a Sons of Issachar militia?

Zerbe: Yes.

Skrocki: It says here, “Les Zerbe, yes,” “Hal Hume, no,” “Schaeffer Cox, yes,” everybody else says no.

(The email begins like this. I had to stop when they turned the screen off.)

“I have been asked to chair a meeting on 13 feb 2010 at 9am. My function is ony to Chair this meeting in an effort to establish organizational legi…”

Zerbe: Oh! I was out of state from the Fall of 2010 until April. (He looks relieved.)

Skrocki: It must have been some other Les Zerbe voting yes? Do you have a twin in Fairbanks of the same name?

Did you have a meeting with Schaeffer Cox and a young reporter with glasses?

Zerbe: I don’t remember.

Skrocki calls for exhibit 916 and says there are 3 clips of the interview if needed. Skrocki shows a freeze frame of 3 men sitting in a restaurant of some kind, with a laminate table near a window. Zerbe says he recognizes himself, and Schaeffer Cox, and doesn’t recognize the other person.

Skrocki asks Zerbe if he recognizes it as Denny’s. Zerbe says no he doesn’t recognize it as Denny’s.

Skrocki: You don’t recall an interview with this reporter that was an hour and a half long?

Zerbe: No I don’t recall… This has been a long time ago.

Skrocki: How long?

Zerbe: Too long ago for me to remember.

In order to job Zerbe’s memory, the jury takes a break and leaves the courtroom, and we all get to hear the clips.

Clip 1
Cox: “If you’re going to mess with one of us, then you’re going to have to mess with all of us. And in the public eye.”

Clip 2
Cox: “Governments are instituted among men, and so when you have a government that is using force other than any reason than to protect the rights of the individual, they have become a liability to that which they were created to protect.

“And it will take the men of character and conscience and principle to stand up and say, “No, that’s wrong.” And as a matter of fact, I will shed blood in opposition to that. (He gets very passionate) And that’s something that I would do. I would take up arms. I would fire on my own government. (His voice gets quiet) I would fire on police officers if they were my own neighbors, if they were party to that. And not because there was any personal malice, but it’s how pure and sacred of a cause liberty is. It’s enough to make me reckon with things I don’t want to do.

“I‘ve never wanted to hurt anyone. I’ve never been in a fight. But as a husband, and father, and friend, I’ve got a responsibility to defend people – to defend my family and to defend freedom. And I can’t deny that, even if it’s not a very fun task. And so that’s something that I’m willing to do. I’m willing to fight I’m willing to die, I’m willing to oppose a lawless force. I’m willing to defend. And everybody if they think about it will arrive at that point.”

Clip 3
Cox: “… regimented and more ordered because the difference in a solideir and a criminal is if you’re under command. The difference in a gang and an army is if you follow orders, and march under principle. Because we don’t just want groups of armed men…(stop)”

Skrocki: Do you remember that interview?

Zerbe: No. Been too long ago.

Skrocki: That’s you.

Zerbe: That’s me.

Skrocki: You’re number 2 in the Alaska Peacemakers militia.

Zerbe: I believe I was at the time.

Skrocki: This interview is over an hour long. How about a small bit of memory how about that?

Zerbe: I don’t recall with any clarity this meeting.

(This is really starting to remind me of something….)


Skrocki: Did you attend TV interviews with Schaeffer Cox?

Zerbe: I don’t recall tv interviews. The only one I recall was when they went to KJNP.

Skrocki: How about reporters recording them with small cameras?

Zerbe: I don’t remember. I remember an Associated Press reporter questioning me at another location. I don’t remember all she said, too.

Skrocki: You don’t recall a camera and tripod being set up, and everyone having (mics).

Zerbe: Nope.

Skrocki: So you are telling this court you have no memory of how this happened.

Zerbe: It is not in my memory

Skrocki: That’s Mr. Cox. That’s you there.

Zerbe: Right.

Skrocki: We can take a break and play the whole thing from start to finishIf you want to.

Zerbe: We had so many meetings.

Skrocki: I’m trying to narrow a time frame for when this happened.

Zerbe: I cannot remember time frames.

Skrocki: When did you join the militia?

Zerbe: I don’t recall that to the exact day at all. Probably some time in 2009. I do not keep a record of that.

Skrocki: I’m trying to find a time frame for when this interview occurred.

Zerbe: I would not be able to tell you at all.

(Zerbe has progressed from eggplant to neon eggplant with a dash of beet. He is breathing heavily and I’m seriously wondering if he’s going to require medical treatment before this is all over. I wonder if he believes he is actually helping the defense with all of this. I don’t think he is.)

Skrocki: When did you join the 2nd Amendment Task Force?

Zerbe: I don’t know how you join. We just attended meetings is all.

Skrocki: It’s not more than 5 years old, though…

Zerbe: No, but I’m 66 years old. I don’t remember what I had for breakfast this morning.

(Really, Les Zerbe? David Hume is 80 and he had almost a full mental roster of who attended one meeting at 6 o’clock in the morning years ago. If this guy seriously cannot remember what he had for breakfast this morning, he shouldn’t be flying young children around in a small plane across the state. I’m just saying.)

Skrocki: This is just an interview right?

Zerbe: Riiight.

Skrocki: This person’s a reporter, right?

Zerbe: I have no idea if he’s a reporter or not.

Skrocki: We offer 916 into evidence.

Nelson Traverso objects. “If he doesn’t remember the date, he doesn’t remember. It’s beyond the scope of whatever I asked.

Dooley objects as to relevance and lack of foundation.

Haden objects because of lack of foundation.

Skrocki: This man just testified that he’s part of the APM, and this guy (Cox) is talking about killing cops! And frankly, we’ve got brain fade in terms of specifics.

(Brain fade. Indeed.)

Judge: Is this proper of cross-examination?

Skrocki: He testified that this is defensive, and he’s sitting here in a box saying “we are a family militia.” And he was in a meeting about killing cops.

Haden and Dooley object saying that this is only Cox speaking for himself, and it should only be regarded by the jury in case against Mr. Cox, and not Barney or Vernon.

Judge Bryan says it’s admissible.

The jury returns.

Skrocki: That is you and Mr. Cox and he is speaking about the militia.

Zerbe: I assume so.

Skrocki: So you’re sure it’s Mr. Cox, but you’re not sure about location or timeframe. But it’s not further back than five years.

Zerbe: No.

Skrocki: Five years would be what year?

Zerbe: 2007. It wouldn’t have been past that, no.

Skrocki: And you were a Lt. Colonel in the militia.

Zerbe: Yes.

Skrocki: When?

Zerbe: Couldn’t tell you.

Skrocki: Do you have a shirt?

Zerbe: Yes. It didn’t mean a whole lot. The whole thing about us having some kind of serious militia doing harm to officers… I know we weren’t going to do that.

Skrocki: I’ll ask you a question when I’m ready.

They get ready to show the clips to the jury, and Judge Bryan says that what they see is to be admitted against Mr. Cox only and to consider it only for that limited purpose.

After Clip 2 is shown, Skrocki has a question.

Skrocki: I take it that because you didn’t get up and walk away, you agree?

Zerbe: You are making assumptions.

Skrocki: You didn’t do it right then and there…

Zerbe: If you’re trying to get me to say…

Skrocki: We’re happy to give you the whole hour and a half recording to see if you objected to that.

Zerbe: No. I don’t recall. I don’t recall the meeting.

Skrocki: You’re saying this is a family militia? (,,,)

Zerbe: I don’t think I told them that. I don’t recall that I just told the jury we were a family of some sort. The APM was a group of serious concerned citizens made up of the average good citizen off the street – physicians, ministers, books store owners, eyeglass and hearing aid store owners…

I eventually attained the rank of 2nd in command – Lt. Colonel I guess you’d call it. It was a group of men who basically came after the 2008 scare, and we felt the US economy might totally fail us, and even in an article today the Wyoming senate have a bill before them, and it is a bill to help Wyoming to make decisions on her own as a state, in case the whole federal economy goes down the toilet. (Skrocki tries to object, but he asked a question for which all this is an appropriate answer.)

So, we felt in Alaska as isolated as we are, we’d have serious problems including law ans order. We talked about Katrina. In that instance we saw on television policemen in uniform stealing and looing with the crowd, and illegitimate shooting and confiscations from good citizens that the court later said was not allowable. Military coming in and taking over for officers who had taken off their uniform and fled. Some kind of defense like the musk ox, so our families would be protected from such a thing. We made a serious study about the militia – the word “militia” had gotten a bad association over time, like the Aryan nation – we just don’t like black people. We had no such agenda. We simply tried to meet with law enforcement people. Mostly, we were shuned but in the Old West when he ran our of help, the sheriff deputized the people of the community, and they went after the bad guys and they got ’em. We are a nation of laws, and not a nation of men. It comes to the point…

Skrocki: …where you take the law into your own hands?

Zerbe: Not at the first.  It’s making law happen when law enforcement doesn’t make it happen.

Skrocki: Did he ever mention 241?

Zerbe: I don’t think so. I don’t recall that.

Skrocki: Where did you get your information?

Zerbe: I read the newspaper.

Skrocki: Did you hear recordings?

Zerbe: No.

Skrocki: Were you in a meeting when this was mentioned?

Zerbe: I don’t recall. It might have happened based on info that comes to me from the paper.

Skrocki: Did you ever attend a command staff meeting with the other members where 241 was discussed?

Zerbe: I don’t believe so.

Skrocki: That means it didn’t happen?

Zerbe: That means nothing of the sort!

Skrocki: Did you ever get a cell phone from Schaeffer Cox?

Zerbe: I don’t believe so.

Skrocki: Do you know that in thie investigation there were notes that you were to be given a yellow phone to communicate with Mr. Cox?

Zerbe: I don’t even know what a yellow phone is.

Skrocki: Did you use a cell phone?

Zerbe: I don’t recall I only have my own cell phone, as I recall.

Clip 3 is shown.


Before the jury comes into the courtroom, Steve Skrocki says that Les Zerbe and next three witnesses were overheard in the lobby talking about mistrials. Skrocki cautioned Traverso to tell them not to talk about such matters.

The jury comes back, and Les Zerbe is back on the stand, still under oath, still scarlet, but he’s calmed down a little. The prosecution puts up on the screen an image of a piece of paper which has lists of “red phones” and “yellow phones” which represent disposable cell phones Cox gave to militia members. Skrocki indicates one of the numbers with a blue marker on the screen.

Skrocki: Do you see your first name?

Zerbe: Yes.

Skrocki: Do you recall that phone number?

Zerbe: No, it’s been a long time.

Skrocki: Do you see by the phone number where it says “Yellow?”

Zerbe: I have no idea what yellow means.

Skrocki: Do you see yellow for all the other names?

Zerbe: Yes.

Skrocki: You have no idea about this.

Zerbe: No.

Skrocki: You’re saying you never got a phone from Schaeffer Cox.

Zerbe: I’m not saying that. I’m saying I don’t remember what this was all about.

(This place is full of firearms… Somebody just shoot me!)

Skrocki: Can we have exhibit 122? There’s a driver’s license photo in there, do you see that?

Zerbe: Yes, I see a license there.

Skrocki: Do you see the photo?

Zerbe: It says “Lonnie Gene Vernon.”

Skrocki: On the back do you see your phone number there?

Zerbe: Yes, my home and cell.

Skrocki: Also name of Gary Brockman.

Zerbe: I left the militia in October of 2010. I had nothing to do with it after that!

Skrocki: (with a little smile) That’s a pretty firm date in your mind.

Zerbe: (Backpedals) My wife told me, because I asked her… beause we were gone, and we came bck the last part of April.

Skrocki: So those dates are very clear.

Zerbe: That’s the best I can recall.

Skrocki: Do you ever recall texting Schaeffer Cox?

Zerbe: I don’t text. I make phone calls.

Skrocki: Is it possible?

Zerbe: Anything is possible, yes.

Skrocki: If I show you something…

Zerbe: Maybe. Can’t be sure until I see it, and it can be proved it was my text.

Skrocki: You were interviewed by the FBI. You don’t’ like the TSA.

Zerbe: Most Americans dislike the TSA. (OK, I’m giving him that one)

Skrocki: So, you’re speaking for a lot of Americans.

Zerbe: The concern is not any deeper than any law enforcemtne today. We’re the statue, and they’re the pigeon. It’s not a user friendly situation. It’s a “we must be in control” situation, and it’s on the news every day in one form or another. We want our country safe but the way they’re going around it is very adolescent compared to what the Israelis are doing.

Skrocki: Did you ever have any discussions with Mr. Cox about the TSA?

Zerbe: I don’t recall.

Skrocki: It’s possible?

Zerbe: No, I wouldn’t say that, no.

Skrocki: Have you heard of ‘1 for 1?’

Zerbe: No, sir.

Skrocki: (something about the TSA and Israel)

Zerbe: I just know they profile people before they put them in . I have watched in total disgust some of those things going on at the airport. Even Senators have been embarrassed. (…) not a woman with a six month old baby from Nebraska.

Skrocki: With respect to video clips, you’re Mr. Cox’s #2 in command. Never once did you counsel him if what he was saying was a bad idea.

Zerbe: I don’t recall. But we have a command structure. We had all kinds of conversations how many years ago… I don’t recall.

Skrocki: You’re going to tell me you just listen to your commander. Like what happened at Nuremberg right?

Zerbe: That’s mostly correct.

Skrocki: I have no more questions.

Nelson Traverso for Schaeffer Cox is up.

Traverso: So, you were out of the state the whole time.

Zerbe: I was totally on the road, totally busy. I have a church sponsorship that helps me with my efforts to help the Native people from Alaska and I have to go make reports to these groups from time to time, and that’s what I was doing.

Traverso: Did anyone raise the phrase ‘241’ prior to your departure in 2010.
No. (firmly)

Next up for the defense was Bill Fulton. I’ve already written about it HERE.

When Mr. Zerbe steps down, he parks himself in a seat near me. He has an air about him of defiance. You can tell he’s dying to watch Bill Fulton give his testimony. Skrocki notices him sitting there, and tell the Judge. Skrocki says he’d like Zerbe to leave, and the Judge does so. Unti testimony is totally complete, including any rebuttal testimony the witness may be called to the stand for, no witness may remain in the courtroom. And with a muttered “OK” and a huff, he is gone.




14 Responses to “Militia Trial: Cox’s 2nd in Command Testifies”
  1. Carol says:

    Les Zerbe! Name from the past. years ago, before cell phones, he was an officer in the Civil Air Patrol, you know, those folks who would go out looking for overdue aircraft, lifesavers they are. So, once he was going to fly in his own plane with some folks from Fairbanks to Yakutat, didn’t file a flight plan. Just told his wife that he’d be back in a week or so. She didn’t hear from him and didn’t hear from him, finally he called and said that weather was bad getting to Yakutat, so they went to Northway. Lotsa land between Fairbanks and those places. If anyone should have known about filing flight plans, it should be someone active in CAP. But he didn’t and didn’t seem to understand why poor wifey was upset. He always struck me as an expletive deleted – insert your favorite unprintable here.

  2. Mo says:

    Reading the comments above, Corey Robin’s The Conservative Mind seems to be relevant. It’s all about power.

    Question: Where are the rich. powerful, and socially upscale members of these survivalist/”patriot”/militia groups?
    Answer: There aren’t any, because they don’t need to join.

  3. Alaska Pi says:

    AKM- Am I reading this correctly in seeing it as a rather untidy apologia for forming a militia?
    “We made a serious study about the militia – the word “militia” had gotten a bad association over time, like the Aryan nation – we just don’t like black people.”

    I certainly hope you are correct about the jury not seeing this gent as a positive for the defense.
    The guy wins the grand tic-tac-toe award for obstreperous,overwrought , obvious,odious obnoxiousness.
    I am deeply worried about the idea he is counselling anyone about anything- especially young people.

    I am equally, if not more, worried about Mr Cox’s remarks about what seperates an army from a gang. There are plenty of armies around the world which operate like gangs and plenty of gangs which have hierarchies like armies.
    The assumption that hierarchy alone serves to imbue groups of armed men with legitimacy is horsepunky, as is the idea that “[THE] men of character and conscience and principle” are Mr Cox and company.
    Especially if the second in “command” of all those men of character, blah, blah can’t remember what he ate for breakfast , let alone what sounds like a decisive statement of purpose by his “superior”.

    A real and abiding issue for human beings is the whole Thomas theorem thingy:
    “If men define situations as real, they are real in their consequences.”

    We all have to watch out for the tendency to fall into mindsets “in which subjective impressions can be projected on to life and thereby become real to projectors.”

    This whole militia dealie with its survivalist, “Patriot”, religious, guns and “me and mine only” aspects based on narrow views of what is happening in the world/country and hasty generalizations (fallacy of insufficent sample) would merely be silly except that to these folks it IS reality.

  4. Krubozumo Nyankoye says:

    There are a number of themes that run through these scenarios that have not gotten a lot of notice. I think that is partly because some or all of the ‘connective tissue’ between them is religious and that has historically and traditionally always gotten a free pass. The connectivity that is most disturbing here is that of the Dominionist movements in their many guises, their avowed intentions as evinced in the Seven Mountains Credo and various other sources of stated intent which involve the overthrow by subversion of whatever means necessary of secular democratic government and the installation of a theocratic dictatorship.

    As Beaglemom pointed out in an earlier thread these people may be clowns but they are serious. I agree, they are serious, but what is truly threatening and insidious, just as with the crosshairs symbols, it is their backers and enablers and funders manage to stay just beyond the glaring lights, are not called into question and retain an aura of plausible deniability despite the fact that the precepts of their cultist viewpoints state quite plainly that any means that help to achieve the intended aim are permissable. Read literally, as it must be, since these folks are nothing if not literal, is the nothing is beyond the pale so long as it furthers the cause of Dominion.

    This fellow Zerbe was quite plainly lying through his teeth and at the same time attempting to do a little grandstanding, to use the opportunity to announce in his particular codex a kinship with other sects patterned after the same mold but cast under a different name.

    What we seem to be witnessing is the ascendence of this ‘movement’ to actual widespread political power in the form of the tea-party revolution in 2010 which is to some degree a consequence of the selection of Palin for national candidacy.

    The extent to which this cultist collusion has insinuated itself into all aspects of society over the past few decades is a little troubling to say the least.. Just start looking around under the generalized term of dominionism and see what kinds of stuff you find.

    Sometimes it is cathartic to have a geological perspective on things. In perhaps 100 years, which is a nanosecond in rock time, but certainly within another 10,000 or 100,000 years, none of this will matter. We, as a species will have worn out our welcome on this planet. Unless we learn to take care of ourselves.

    • bubbles says:

      you captured my thoughts in their entirety. thank you.
      and thank you AKM. these are very interesting times we live in.

  5. moseyon says:

    AKM: I haven’t commented for awhile. I must say this is fascinating. I have a lot of back reading to do, to catch up.
    Will look forward to your future posting.
    I love your stick men drawings, made me smile, because that’s how I draw. 🙂

  6. LibertyLover says:

    Good Christian men considering how to protect their families vs the parable of the stone soup in tough times… hmmm which to choose?

  7. zyggy says:

    You need your pants on fire picture for Mr. Aubergine. He must have been pissed having the Judge tell him he had to follow court rules.

  8. Lucky Charms says:

    You should have seen it up here in 2008. There were at least two local gun shops in Anchorage that had “Obama Sales” for ammunition. I kid you not.

    • bubbles says:

      Alaskans it is past time you let these crazies know they and their views will not be tolerated, starting with these lunatics on trial.

  9. thatcrowwoman says:

    Many thanks for the court reporting, AKM, with drawings and photos.

    Winds of the old days, when mama and I would read mysteries
    and watch Perry Mason together;
    mystery-lovers are we to this day. {{{{{mama}}}}}

    All the more compelling for being “the rill dill.”

    Looking forward to the next installment.
    Let it shine.

    • bubbles says:

      meet a fellow mystery lover! never missed Perry Mason if i could help it.

  10. Beaglemom says:

    Wow! What I just read is scary. So this is just a group of good “Christian men” who like to get together and talk about protecting their families against ????? and who keep loaded weapons handy, just in case. Did they think that grizzly bears and such were going to begin rampaging because New York City bankers were going bust or because houses in Florida, Arizona, and all around the Lower 48 were going into foreclosure?

    Now there was a lot of economic upheaval in 2008 but was it really enough to cause good “Christian men” to fear for the complete implosion of their country? How little faith these good “Christian men” had in their fellow citizens. I do not think that these guys up in Alaska really care or cared much at all about what was happening to the housing industry, to the banks and to the rich folk working in Wall Street. I think that they were freaking out because a candidate, who was half African, was running for president.

    And, as someone who was raised as a church-going Catholic (although no longer practicing), I was always taught that Christians do not believe in an eye for an eye or two eyes for an eye. I was taught about turning the other cheek and doing unto others as they would do unto me. None of this works with the misplaced adoration of the Second Amendment by these buffoons. I simply cannot accept that good “Christian men” would need to arm themselves to the teeth.

    It’s probably a good thing that I live far away from Alaska, although I know that Michigan has produced more than its share of strange thought processors – think Timothy McVeigh and Oklahoma or the bunch who were thwarted about a year ago in the southwestern part of my state planning to kill state troopers or so-called “federal agents.” They always insist that they are 1) good “Christian men” and 2) the good guys and 3) that everyone else is the enemy.

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