Military non-public’s plea shelved web fantasy chat protection

NEW YORK (AP) — An Military non-public charged with plotting to homicide members of his unit abroad with assist from a secretive violent anarchist group was planning a protection calling all of it an web fantasy earlier than pleading responsible simply earlier than trial, court docket data present.

Plans for the protection of Ethan Phelan Melzer was revealed in court docket papers within the months earlier than the Kentucky man abruptly pleaded responsible to expenses Friday, eliminating the necessity for his July 5 trial in Manhattan federal court docket. Sentencing is about for Jan. 6. He may resist 45 years in jail relatively than the life sentence {that a} jury conviction may have introduced.

Melzer, 24, was in Italy in October 2019 with the 173rd Airborne Brigade Fight Group when he communicated on-line with others previous to plotting an assault in opposition to his Military unit as soon as it was redeployed in 2020 to protect an remoted and delicate army set up, prosecutors mentioned.

However court docket papers reveal the people he was speaking with on-line weren’t members of the Order of 9 Angles — or 09A — as he believed, however relatively, authorities informants who helped construct the case in opposition to him, protection attorneys mentioned.

The Washington Submit quoted a European safety official in a June 2020 article as saying that the Nazi-Satanist group was established in Britain within the Seventies and has promoted excessive violence for many years.

The official who spoke on anonymity due to the sensitivity of the difficulty advised the newspaper that 09A membership ranges from a number of dozen to about 2,000, focusing on younger folks and sending supporters into teams to affect and recruit.

Prosecutors mentioned the white-supremacist group espouses neo-Nazi, anti-Semitic and Satanic beliefs and encourages members to infiltrate the army to realize coaching, commit acts of violence and determine like-minded people intent on subverting the army from inside.

U.S. Lawyer Damian Williams mentioned Friday that Melzer sought to “orchestrate a murderous ambush on his personal unit by unlawfully disclosing its location, energy and armaments to 09A members on-line.”

“The defendant believed he may drive the U.S. into extended armed battle whereas inflicting the deaths of as many troopers as doable. Melzer’s traitorous conduct was a betrayal of his storied unit and nothing wanting an assault in opposition to essentially the most important American values,” he mentioned in a information launch.

Earlier than Friday’s plea, Melzer’s attorneys had been constructing a protection asserting he was merely indulging in fantasy chats just like a New York Metropolis police officer dubbed the “cannibal cop” by tabloids when he was convicted in 2013 of kidnapping conspiracy in a plot to rape, kill and eat girls. They mentioned it was a case with “related information” as these dealing with Melzer.

On-line, Officer Gilberto Valle had mentioned the cannibalistic plot with others in grisly element. However in throwing out the jury verdict, a decide wrote that whereas Valle’s “misogynistic sexual fantasies” mirrored a diseased thoughts, prosecutors didn’t show he’d taken steps to hold out any grotesque deeds.

As Melzer’s attorneys wrote: “The fees on this case are sensational, the information much less so: No ‘jihadist ambush’ on Melzer’s unit occurred, none was near taking place, and Melzer had no intention of seeing one occur. In post-arrest interviews with regulation enforcement he made clear that he by no means supposed to see an assault happen and that he believed that his interlocutors had been ‘jokers’ who equally had no intentions or capabilities of orchestrating one.”

They mentioned his on-line prose was “bluster — falsities designed to impress the folks he was speaking with on-line.” And the attorneys wrote that whereas Melzer was inquisitive about 09A, he thought it was “bizarre” and “just about a cult” and its beliefs had been “polar reverse” of his personal.

They mentioned one authorities cooperator posing as an 09A sympathizer on-line claimed to be a former Canadian paratrooper injured in Iraq, however he was truly a mentally sick 15-year-old who had been hospitalized for psychiatric care months earlier than he started speaking with Melzer.

“The federal government’s efforts to color Melzer as an O9A-devotee dedicated to murdering his fellow troopers are overblown,” protection attorneys wrote. They mentioned three post-arrest interviews in 2020 with regulation enforcement “amounted to full-throated denials of essentially the most critical expenses in opposition to him.”

The responsible plea got here after prosecutors clarified they’d constructed a case in opposition to Melzer that included proof from his digital units and barracks — pictures, movies and paperwork — that may very well be characterised as “jihadist” and “09A” supplies.

Additionally recovered had been books titled “The Sinister Custom” and “The Anarchist’s Cookbook,” which prosecutors maintained had detailed directions on the right way to manufacture and use explosives and weapons.

However essentially the most probably damaging proof prosecutors mentioned they deliberate to point out the jury was proof Melzer sought to earn a self-initiation into 09A by means of violence as a street-level drug seller after taking pictures a marijuana seller within the arm in January 2017 close to his Louisville, Kentucky, condominium. He joined the Military the next 12 months.

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