Former Forever Enduring Always Ready (FEAR) militia member Anthony Peden was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with the possibility of parole in the December 2011 murders of Tiffany York, 17, and Michael Roark, 19. Peden, 28, and his co-defendant, Christopher Salmon, 27, pleaded guilty to the murders last month in Long County court. They were arrested more than two years ago following a investigation into the militia’s operation and the teens’ deaths at Morgan Lake.
Salmon was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole right after he pleaded guilty. Peden, however, was given a second hearing regarding the possibility of future parole eligibility, which was granted in his sentence.
Peden’s attorney, Burt Baker, argued that his client deserved the possibility of parole because, unlike Salmon, Peden had extensive combat experience, including two deployments. According to Baker, Peden’s combat experience left him struggling with depression, emotional issues and post-traumatic stress disorder, for which he did not receive proper treatment from the Army. Because of that, Baker said, Peden was unable to “turn off his killing instinct” the night of the murders.
“Why did the Army abandon its responsibility?” Baker asked.
Additionally, according to prosecutor Isabel Pauley and Judge Robert Russell’s interpretations of Peden’s demeanor during the hearings, Peden seemed legitimately remorseful, whereas Salmon did not.
Peden pleaded guilty to two counts of malice murder and two counts of violating the Street Gant Terrorism Prevention Act.