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Lawyer: Militia leader within rights

June 13, 2012 at 11:01 PM

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, June 13 (UPI) -- The lawyer for an Alaskan militia leader accused of conspiring to kill government officials, said Wednesday his client was within his rights of free speech.

In his closing arguments at the trial of Schaeffer Cox, attorney Nelson Traverso agreed with prosecutors Cox was obnoxious and mouthy, but said his words and actions fell well within his First Amendment and free assembly rights, the Anchorage Daily News reported.

Additionally, Traverso said, Cox's weapon stash was legal or -- in the case of his demilitarized hand grenades -- not weapons at all. Cox, along with co-defendants and fellow militia members Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon, also faces weapons charges.

Prosecutor Steve Skrocki, an assistant U.S. attorney, said evidence proves Cox was willing to threaten government officials with violence and accumulate stores of weapons to establish what Skrocki called the "sovereign republic of Schaeffer Cox," the newspaper reported.

The trial is scheduled to go to the jury Thursday after Skrocki concludes his rebuttal argument.

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