LUDOWICI, GA (WTOC) - A plea bargain by a soldier accused of helping in a double murder revealed the death was an attempt to cover up a plot by several soldiers in a group trying to overthrow the government.
Pvt. Michael Burnett, who's stationed at Fort Stewart, detailed how a fellow soldier had recruited him to join a militia group. The group stockpiled guns and bombs, planned to help overthrow the government, and killed a disgruntled member and his girlfriend, Burnett claimed.
Burnett signed a plea agreement Monday that charges him with manslaughter, instead of murder, as well as gang/terroristic group charges. He also agrees to testify in cases against three other suspects in the murder. In return, he avoids a possible death sentence.
Burnett said his involvement with FEAR, which stands for Forever Enduring Always Ready, came when its founder recruited him. He claimed Pvt. Isaac Aguigui was the architect of an overthrow he called The Awakening.
"It started with shooting guns, guy stuff," Burnett testified. "From there, Isaac showed me The Manuscript, which is a book about true patriots.
He said Aguigui also recruited Michael Roark, who was found dead in rural Long County with his girlfriend Tiffany York last December.
Burnett claimed Aguigui ordered two other group members, Pvt. Christopher Salmon and Sgt. Anthony Peden, to shoot and kill Roark and York. He testified Roark had helped purchase some of the guns the group had stockpiled. Assistant District Attorney Isabelle Pauley outlined in court parts of the plan, as outlined by group members in custody. They planned to overtake weapon supplies at Fort Stewart and use car bombs to assassinate local officials, Pauley described. In addition, they planned to bomb Savannah's Forsyth Park fountain as part of their statement. Beyond that, she added, they planned to join other militia groups around the country to assassinate the president and overthrow the federal government.
When asked by judge Robert Russell how the murders fit into the plot, Burnett said Aguigui suspected Roark of taking money from the group's funds. They also suspected Roark planned to leave the group when he left the military. More importantly, they worried he would report their plans.
"A loose end is what Isaac called him," Burnett recalled.
The District Attorney said the four members arrested in the murder were not the extent of FEAR.
"There have been other arrests, but not on the murder charges," he noted.