ANCHORAGE — Prosecutors tried unsuccessfully to remove a juror Wednesday morning in a murder conspiracy trial of militia leader Schaeffer Cox and two co-defendants, after the juror told the judge she had a friend who was once arrested by the FBI.
The juror, a woman from the village of King Salmon, passed a note to the judge with the information before the trial resumed Wednesday morning. When questioned in court outside the rest of the jury, the juror said she had just remembered that her friends the Rockwoods had been arrested by the FBI and said she wanted the court to be aware.
King Salmon weatherman Paul Rockwood and his wife Nadia pleaded guilty to lying to FBI investigators in 2010. Prosecutors in that case said Paul Rockwood made a Jihadist hit list targeting 15 people in the Lower 48.
The juror said she had house-sat for the Rockwoods and has since corresponded with the Paul Rockwood in prison. She said her friends’ experience would not bias her judgment in the trial against Cox, Coleman Barney and Lonnie Vernon, who were also investigated by the FBI and are accused of conspiring to kill government employees.
After the juror left the courtroom, Assistant U.S. Attorney Steve Skrocki, who also prosecuted the Rockwood case, asked U.S. District Court Judge Robert J. Bryan to dismiss the juror based on the chance that the juror would unfairly judge the government’s case.
“I know the Rockwoods have been very vocal to anyone who would listen to them,” he said. “I know I’m no friend of Nadia Rockwood.”
Bryan said the juror would stay.
“I’m satisfied with her statement,” he said. “I would not expect the juror, from what I heard, to be opposed to the FBI.”
On Tuesday, another juror passed on a note to inform the court that, like the defendant Barney, she is of the Mormon faith. Bryan said there was no problem keeping her on the jury after she told the court that she felt she could judge him the same as if he did not share her religion.