VOL. 125 | NO. 60 | Monday, March 29, 2010
Cowart Pleads in Obama Assassination Plot
By Bill Dries
The case of two rural West Tennessee men accused of plotting to kill President Barack Obama at his inauguration ended Monday as the second of the two suspects pleaded guilty.
In a hearing Monday afternoon before U.S. District Judge Daniel Breen in Jackson, Tn., Daniel Cowart pleaded guilty to eight counts of conspiracy, firearms charges, intentional damage to religious property and threatening to kill a major candidate for President.
Cowart and Daniel Schlesselman, who pleaded guilty to similar charges in January, were arrested in Oct. 2008 in Crockett County, Tn. after citizens there spotted them riding around in a car on which they had drawn racial epithets.
Federal agents said the two told them they planned to kill hundreds of African-Americans as they drove to Washington D.C. where they planned to assassinate Obama at his inaugural while they wore white tuxedos and top hats.
Cowart and Schlesselman planned to finance their trip to Washington with home invasion robberies and a break in at a Jackson, Tn. gun store.
They cased a house in Bells, Tn. for a possible home invasion robbery, bought supplies at a Wal Mart in Brownsville, Tn. and shot out a church window in the town before they were caught, according to affidavits filed in the case in 2008.
Cowart’s attorney, Joe H. Byrd Jr., also filed a motion to dismiss the indictment questioning whether the Memphis grand jury that indicted both men systematically excluded white citizens because the Memphis population is predominantly African-American. Schlesselman joined in the motion.
The indictments withstood the legal challenge.
Cowart faces a 10 to 75 years sentence.
Schlesselman faces 10 years in prisons when his is sentenced on April 15.