The Blotter: Summer 2010

Updates on Extremism and the Law

Jan. 11
Former militia leader Ed Brown was sentenced in Concord, N.H., to 37 years in federal prison on charges related to the heavily armed, nine-month standoff he and his wife engaged in after he refused to turn himself in to serve five years for tax evasion. The couple's home was later found to be stocked with homemade bombs, assault-type rifles and booby traps aimed at law enforcement. His wife Elaine, a successful dentist, was sentenced last year to 35 years in prison.

Jan. 12
The U.S. Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty against neo-Nazi Frank Spisak Jr., overturning a lower appeals court ruling that his trial lawyer's weak closing argument during the sentencing phase merited a new round of hearings. Spisak murdered three people in Cleveland in 1983. He wore a Hitler-style mustache at his original trial and gave the Nazi salute. 

Feb. 8
Three men with ties to the radical-right "sovereign citizens" movement, which claims that most Americans do not have to pay taxes or obey all laws, were sentenced in Kansas City, Mo., to prison terms of five to six years. David L. Robinson, Daniel W. Denham and Larry P. Goodyke sold bogus diplomatic identification cards for $450 to $2,000. Customers were told the cards would give them diplomatic immunity and exempt them from taxes and arrest by police.

March 10
For the second time, a mistrial in the case of hate blogger Hal Turner was declared in a Brooklyn, N.Y., courtroom when the jury could not reach a unanimous verdict on charges that he threatened the lives of three federal judges in Chicago. Turner's lawyers said his posting of photos of the judges and saying they were "worthy of death" was protected free speech. Turner's work as an FBI informant was an issue at both trials. He is scheduled to be retried in August.

March 12
A federal appeals court upheld the conviction of reputed Klansman James Ford Seale in the 1964 killing of two black men in rural Mississippi. Seale was convicted in 2007 of kidnapping charges in the abduction and murder of Charles Eddie Moore and Henry Hezekiah Dee. The ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit in New Orleans concluded that the statute of limitations had not expired.

March 18
Three members of the neo-Nazi group Connecticut White Wolves and two associates were indicted on charges that they tried to sell rifles and homemade grenades to what they believed to be a white supremacist group in another state. One of the suspects was serving in the U.S. Army in Virginia. The men are accused of making three grenades, which were packed into a box marked with a swastika.

April 1
Scott Roeder, an anti-abortion extremist convicted of murdering Wichita, Kan., physician George Tiller, was sentenced to serve at least 50 years in prison. Roeder shot Tiller in the forehead at point-blank range while the doctor was serving as an usher at his church. As he was escorted out of the courtroom, Roeder shouted at prosecutors, "The blood of babies is on your hands."

April 15
Paul Schlesselman was sentenced in Memphis, Tenn., to 10 years in prison for his part in a 2008 scheme to kill 88 African Americans and then behead another 14 (the numbers are shorthand codes for neo-Nazi slogans). He and fellow racist skinhead Daniel Cowart also planned to murder then-presidential candidate Barack Obama at the end of the killing spree. Cowart, a "probate" in the white supremacist group Supreme White Alliance, has pleaded guilty and awaits sentencing.

April 22
The last of three men convicted of painting swastikas and racist slogans on the walls of a Columbia, Tenn., mosque was sentenced to six years in prison. Jonathan Edward Stone was given credit for two years he already had spent in jail. His two co-defendants received sentences of 14 years and 15 years, respectively.

May 5
Raymond "Chuck" Foster, imperial wizard of the Sons of Dixie Knights of the Ku Klux Klan pleaded guilty to second-degree murder midway through his trial in Covington, La., and was sentenced to life in prison. Foster shot Cynthia Lynch of Tulsa, Okla., after recruiting her over the Internet. The day after Lynch was initiated in a robed backwoods ceremony, she argued with Foster and tried to quit.