Pvt. Michael Burnett plea deal
Pvt. Isaac Aguigui
Sgt. Anthony Peden
Pvt. Michael Burnett mug shot
Pvt. Christopher Salmon
LUDOWICI, Ga. -- Prosecutors in Long County, Ga. say a former soldier at Fort Stewart and his girlfriend were killed because they were about to expose a militia group at the U.S. Army base.
Prosecutors said an investigation into the murders uncovered the anarchist group, which was made up mostly of active-duty soldiers at Fort Stewart.
Four soldiers were charged with the murders of Michael Roark and his 17-year-old girlfriend, Tiffany York. Roark was discharged from the Army a few days before he was murdered.
Pvt. Isaac Aguigui, Sgt. Anthony Peden, Pvt. Christopher Salmon and Pvt. Michael Burnett were arrested on December 12, 2011. Prosecutors said the four soldiers coerced Roark and York into a wooded area and executed them as they got out of a car.
Prosecutor Isabel Pauley said Pvt. Aguigui organized an anarchist group or militia called FEAR, short for Forever Enduring, Always Ready. "All members of the group were active duty military or former military," Pauley said. "Defendant Aguigui actively recruited new members at Fort Stewart and targeted soldiers who were in trouble or disillusioned."
Pvt. Burnett accepted a negotiated plea on Monday in return for his testimony against the three other soldiers. He will serve 10 years of a 50-year sentence, the remaining 40 years on probation.
In Superior Court he told a judge he doesn't know how the group got out of control, and he never meant for anyone to be killed. "I did think that the government needed a change, and I thought we were the people that would be able to change it," he said.
Prosecutors said the group already spent nearly $90,000 on military assault rifles and accessories to carry out plots to bomb monuments and kill public officials including the President of the United States. Pauley said the group made plans to move to Washington State where they would bomb a dam and poison the state's apple crop.
She said they also planned to take over the ammo control point at Fort Stewart, bomb the vehicles of local and state judicial and political figureheads and federal representatives to include the local Department of Homeland Security. They also planned to bomb the fountain in Forsyth Park in Savannah. "Evidence shows the group possessed the knowledge, means and motive to carry out their plans," Pauley said.
In court, Pvt. Burnett explained how Roark and his girlfriend were killed, each shot twice in the head. "Miss York was starting to get out and (Sgt.) Peden shot her," he said. "He reached in and checked her pulse, and then shot her again."
"(Pvt. Salmon) put Michael Roark on his knees and then shot him," he said. Families of the victims broke into audible sobs as he told the story.
Prosecutors said the two were killed because members of the militia believed Roark had betrayed them.
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