Six months after he drove onto Fort Gordon wearing the fake uniform of an Army combat veteran, signed out an infrared laser sight from the post's military police office and was arrested carrying a live land mine and other weapons in his pickup, Anthony Todd Saxon stood in court Wednesday and admitted his guilt to a U.S. District Court Judge.
In a plea deal struck with government prosecutors, four of the seven charges leveled against Saxon, 35, for the June 15 incident were dropped in exchange for his admission of guilt on charges of impersonating a soldier, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of an unregistered silencer and short-barreled rifle.
He faces up to 23 years in federal prison if given the maximum sentences for the three charges. The sentencing will be scheduled later.
During the hearing, Saxon stood quietly, answering Judge Dudley H. Bowen Jr.'s questions with a simple "yes, sir" or "no, sir." Saxon only elaborated when he was asked to delve into the complexities of the gas ports on his modified, short-barreled rifle by a curious Bowen.
His quick and knowledgeable response about the weapon seemed to highlight FBI Special Agent Jason Gustin's earlier testimony that Saxon, an ex-National Guardsman, had detailed knowledge of firearms and explosives.
After his arrest in June, Gustin said, authorities found a stockpile of weapons and ammunition hidden in and around Saxon's Burke County home. It included several assault rifles, handguns and training grenades, some of which were hidden under a car door covered with leaves in his backyard.
On the day of his arrest, authorities found rifle ammunition and magazines, a Kevlar helmet, maps of Fort Gordon, night-vision devices, several grenades, an infrared aiming laser and a land mine in his vehicle, according to court documents and Gustin's testimony. Saxon had told friends and family he worked at Fort Gordon as a contractor and was preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. Neither was true.
"Mr. Saxon was never employed at Fort Gordon, nor was he preparing to deploy to any military operation," Gustin said.
In the months since his arrest, Saxon was held in captivity and taken to a Massachusetts hospital to be mentally evaluated to determine whether he was fit to stand trial. While those reports remain sealed and specific details of his evaluation were not made public, the doctor who examined Saxon found him mentally competent.
Physically, however, he appears in worse condition. Because of a lower back injury from a car wreck in the 1990s, Saxon told authorities he was currently on painkillers and muscle relaxers. At one point he briefly paused Wednesday's hearing so he could sit in a nearby chair because of pain in his right knee.
As he rose to leave after the hearing, Saxon turned back to his tearful wife, who was sitting in the audience, gave a wink and mouthed, "It's OK."