FAIRBANKS — The leader of the local Second Amendment Task Force and founder of a state militia has received a suspended sentence after accepting a plea deal.
Schaeffer Cox, 26, pleaded guilty Friday to a reduced charge of reckless endangerment, a misdemeanor, as part of a plea agreement. He was originally charged with second-degree assault, a felony.
Cox, who has no prior criminal record, was placed on probation for two years and received a one-month suspended sentence. He will also have to attend classes in alternatives to violence.
Cox’s wife told Alaska State Troopers that the couple and their young son were on their way to Anchorage last week when they began to argue. The argument escalated, and Cox reportedly punched and choked the woman when she threatened to leave him.
He surrendered to troopers Monday, and his wife posted his $3,500 bail the same day.
“I think this is resolving the matter in the quickest way that is in the best interest of my family and my marriage,” Cox told a courtroom packed with other defendants facing arraignments and a handful of his supporters.
Outside of the courtroom, Cox, with his wife and attorney Robert John at his side, told reporters that he was thankful for the support he has received over the past week. Cox said he does not believe conviction will change most peoples’ opinions about him, and he plans to hold another meeting of the Second Amendment Task Force on Friday.
Fairbanks District Attorney Michael Gray said that Cox’s wife wanted the case dismissed or pleaded down to misdemeanor disorderly conduct to help the couple save their marriage. With the case primarily resting on her testimony, it was important to take that into account when deciding how to resolve the case, he said.
“While the decision to go forward or not go forward with any case is in the discretion of my office and not the victim, we always try to take the victim’s desires into account when fashioning any resolution,” Gray said.
Cox, a local carpenter who owns his own business, rose to prominence two years ago when he unsuccessfully challenged House District 7 Rep. Mike Kelly in the Republican primary.
Last year he founded the Second Amendment Task Force, a local gun rights group that has organized several open-carry days. He has also organized several high-profile meetings and rallies promoting gun rights and personal freedoms. A three-hour “Freedom Fest” was held at the Carlson Center in April.