'Birther' sentenced to 3 years in McMinn County extortion, perjury case

photo Van Irion, attorney for former U.S. Navy Lt. Cmdr. Walter Frances Fitzpatrick III, left, stands with supporters outside of the McMinn County Courthouse after Fitzpatrick was sentenced to three years in prison on extortion and perjury charges stemming from a June jury conviction in Athens, Tenn.

ATHENS, Tenn. - A series of judicial battles that started in 2010 with Walter F. Fitzpatrick's attempt to have President Obama indicted over the "birther" issue came to a close Tuesday when the retired Navy commander was led off to prison in handcuffs.

Fitzpatrick lost his latest courtroom battle in a heartfelt defense of what he saw as his duty to defend the Constitution, but even in defeat he left the courtroom to cheers and applause from supporters.

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