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Supremacists deny Obama death plot charges

  • Story Highlights
  • Pair arraigned in Memphis, Tennessee, held without bond
  • Feds: Two planned to kill 100 African-Americans, including Barack Obama
  • Men describe themselves as white supremacists, authorities say
  • Two plotted to shoot Obama while wearing white tuxedos, authorities say
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From Kevin Bohn
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Two self-described white supremacists pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges they plotted to kill now-President-elect Barack Obama in the days before the election, federal prosecutors said.

Paul Schlesselman, left, and Daniel Cowart are accused of planning to kill more than 100 African-Americans.

Daniel Cowart, 20, and Paul Schlesselman, 18, appeared Thursday for arraignment before a U.S. magistrate in Memphis, Tennessee.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office said no trial date for the two has been set.

A grand jury indicted both men on charges of illegally possessing a sawed-off shotgun, conspiracy to rob a federally licensed gun dealer and making threats against a presidential candidate, authorities said.

Prosecutors allege they plotted a "killing spree" against African-Americans and hoped to cap their rampage with an assassination attempt against Obama.

According to court documents, Cowart and Schlesselman planned to kill more than 100 African-Americans, including 14 who would be beheaded.

They planned to cap the killing spree by charging at Obama with a car, firing from the windows as they went, dressed in white tuxedos and top hats, the documents said.

The two were arrested last month. According to an affidavit from a federal agent who questioned them, they backed out of an October 21 attempt to rob a gun dealer after spotting two cars and a dog.

They shot out the window of a church on their way back to Cowart's grandfather's home in Tennessee, where they were arrested the next day, authorities said.

Federal law enforcement sources said there was no evidence that Cowart, of Bells, Tennessee, and Schlesselman, of West Helena, Arkansas, had any details of Obama's schedule.

Messages left late Wednesday for the attorneys of Cowart and Schlesselman were not immediately returned.

The two are being held without opportunity for bail.

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