KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Prosecutors described a frightening standoff at a Tennessee courthouse between law enforcement and an armed Georgia man who vowed to take it over in his quest to oust President Obama. The man’s attorney said he was just a “loudmouth” expressing his political opinions.
The defense didn’t work for Darren Wesley Huff, who was convicted Tuesday on a federal firearms charge that could send him to prison for up to five years.
Huff, 41, was armed with a Colt .45 and an assault rifle on April 20, 2010, when he and about 15 others, some also armed, arrived in Madisonville, a small town about halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga.
About 100 law enforcement officers also were there because Huff had told an FBI agent who visited his home in Dallas, Ga., and police who stopped him for a traffic violation in Tennessee that he was prepared to help take over the Monroe County Courthouse if necessary.
“Huff said he was ready to die for his rights and what he believed in,” Special Agent Mark Van Balen wrote in a pre-trial affidavit. Huff was convicted of carrying a firearm in interstate commerce with the intent to use it in a civil disorder and acquitted of another charge of using a firearm in relation to another felony.
Defense attorney Scott Green said his client was a “loudmouth” but “not the scary guy they have been trying to paint.”
Huff fought back tears as he told jurors how hurt he was that “my government has called me a potential domestic terrorist.”
Jurors heard at length from Huff thanks to a dashboard camera video taken after he was stopped and given a warning for driving too closely. In the tape, Huff chatted for an hour about religion and guns with officers, volunteering many details about what he was planning to do in Tennessee.
He said he was motivated to go to Madisonville by Walter Fitzpatrick, a Navy retiree who has had a beef against the federal government since he faced a court-martial decades ago. Fitzpatrick was facing charges in the eastern Tennessee town because he tried to use a citizen’s arrest warrant to take into custody local officials who wouldn’t pursue a legal case to oust Obama.