Kike Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.), congressional cover-up, 1995:
“The lunatic fringe…still clings to the notion that there was a gigantic government conspiracy that brought about this nightmare. It is difficult to see how any rational human being subscribes to such a notion, but obviously many do.”
“What I am telling you is that the most plausible single explanation for this nightmare, namely the apocalyptic vision of a criminally insane, charismatic cult leader who was hell bent on bringing about this infernal nightmare in flames and the extermination of the children, and the women and other innocents is not an explanation that should be cast aside.”
“You are saying, Mr. DeGuerin [Koresh’s lawyer], ‘I saw in David Koresh, not a person who was insane, but a person who was deeply committed and sincere about his religious beliefs.’ Well, I am sorry for you if that’s what you see in him.”
At Mount Carmel, near Waco, Texas, the ATF and the BI slaughtered 82 members of a church — 6 on February 28, 1993, and 76 on April 19, 1993.
Waco followed the ATF & FBI murders at Ruby Ridge, and was given as one of the motives for the Oklahoma bombing.
The congressional hearing into the matter was a cover-up. The two most egregiously offensive congressional demons overseeing the cover-up were Kike Tom Lantos (from Hungary; he would go on to be one of the main promoters of America’s war against the Serbs) and Kike Chuck Schumer.
You can see them in action in this documentary, which you should watch if you want to understand the conspiracy to disarm American citizens and to punish lawful speech:
WACO: The Rules of Engagement
Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.), congressional cover-up, 1995:
“The record of the Waco incident documents mistakes. The record from Waco does not evidence, however, improper motive or intent on the part of law enforcement. David Koresh and the Davidians set fire to themselves and committed suicide. The government did not do that.”
“You [Jack Zimmerman, Steve Schneider’s lawyer, and a military judge] are wasting my time. My time is up. In my judgment, in many ways, these witnesses are trying to deny things that just about everybody else accepts as fact about David Koresh!”
Dick DeGuerin, attorney for David Koresh: I saw no hand grenades [in the possession of the Branch Davidians], I did see some grenades that the ATF had thrown in and I brought one out —
Charles E. Schumer, US Congress, New York (D): What do you mean thrown in?
Dick DeGuerin, attorney for David Koresh: The ATF threw in grenades in their dynamic entry —
Charles E. Schumer, US Congress, New York (D): They threw no grenades.
Dick DeGuerin, attorney for David Koresh: Yes, they did. I saw them —
Charles E. Schumer, US Congress, New York (D): They were flash packs.
Dick DeGuerin, attorney for David Koresh: Have you ever seen what a flash bang can do to somebody? It is a grenade. It has an explosive charge in it. It’s very dangerous. It can blow your hand off. It can blow your face off. It can kill. I would have brought out some of the unexpended grenades that the ATF threw in, but I was worried about bringing out a live grenade, so I left them there. There were a number of grenades.
Charles E. Schumer, US Congress, New York (D): OK, Mr. DeGuerin, I think that would hamper your credibility because you’re the first person who would say they were grenades.
Charles E. Schumer, US Congress, New York (D): I’ve never really sat through a hearing the way — the likes of yesterday. Six and a half hours of defense lawyers, their marathons, their their ways of sliding over the truth was very unfortunate! This idea of the FBI having hand grenades not flash bangs, but hand grenades! And finally, coup de grace, Mr. DeGuerin said that flash bangers can kill, injure, maim! Anyone who knows anything about these things knows that they can’t.
Bob Barr, US Congress, Georgia (R): Uh. Mr. Cavanaugh, I have in my hand an amount of Play Dough. Mr. Bush, if you could, just standard Play Dough. If that were a flash bang grenade or a stun grenade, same thing, which was live, which the pin had been pulled, would you feel comfortable just holding that in your hand?
Jim Cavanaugh, ATF Special Agent: My answer is No! I would not hold it!
Bob Barr, US Congress, Georgia (R): Those are classified as destructive devices under 26 USC Section 5845 F, aren’t they?
Jim Cavanaugh, ATF Special Agent: Yes, sir.
Bob Barr, US Congress, Georgia (R): That they can kill people, is that true?
Jim Cavanaugh, ATF Special Agent: Certainly. Yes, sir.
Bob Barr, US Congress, Georgia (R): Well, a gentleman by the name of Warren L. Parker, an explosives enforcement officer, Bureau of ATF, on May 11, 1994 in court, said under oath they are designed to help kill the suspect while not endangering the law enforcement officer when they’re used for those purposes.
Activities of Federal Law Enforcement Agencies Toward the Branch Davidians (Report House of Representatives, 104th Congress, 2nd Session, Union Calendar No. 395, August 2, 1996):
ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF HON. TOM LANTOS
I welcome the dissenting views on the majority report, which I have signed with a large number of my colleagues. That statement points out clearly the many serious deficiencies of the majority report.
One issue, which is completely ignored in the majority report but which was raised at the time of the original hearings and which is raised in the dissenting views which I have signed, is the issue of the highly questionable involvement of an outside interest group — the National Rifle Association — in the investigation which preceded the hearing.
It is my view that this issue deserves greater attention and investigation. The active involvement of an outside organization in a subcommittee investigation raises the most fundamental questions about the integrity of the entire investigation, and the failure to address this important matter is a fundamental flaw of the majority report.
The outside organization — the National Rifle Association (NRA) — is not a disinterested third party. That organization and its leaders have made it clear that they had a particular point of view on the matters being considered by the subcommittee. Members of the subcommittee repeatedly urged the chairman of the subcommittee to investigate these matters, and the chairman has repeatedly refused to do so. In the interest of fairness and integrity, it is important that these issues be made part of this report.
The first matter is the subcommittee majority’s use of outside “experts” to test firearms. These “experts” were contracted for and paid for (at a cost of some $25,000) by the National Rifle Association. Furthermore, the chairman of the subcommittee and members of the majority staff initially tried to cover-up the involvement of the National Rifle Association, and majority staff even refused to identify to officials of the U.S. Department of Justice the name of the outside advocacy group which selected and paid for the outside experts. Furthermore, in conversation with Justice Department officials, majority staff admitted that the so-called “experts” in fact had no expertise whatsoever in firearms testing. Later, during the course of the hearings the involvement of the National Rifle Association in this case did become public.
The second issue is the matter of an employee of the National Rifle Association identifying herself as a member of the subcommittee staff to at least one individual who was called to testify before the subcommittee. Furthermore, two witnesses testified under oath during the hearings that they were contacted by an employee of the National Rifle Association prior to testifying at the hearing. This raises serious questions about witness tampering. Again this issue was not investigated by the subcommittee chairman and is not dealt with in the majority report.
Both of these instances regarding the involvement of the National Rifle Association in the congressional hearing and investigative process not only raise questions about the ethical behavior of the majority staff, but also may be a violation of the law. This issue was raised in a July 17, 1995, letter from Congressman John Conyers, Jr., and Congressman Charles E. Schumer to the chairman of the Judiciary Committee and the chairman of the Government Reform and Oversight Committee. The instances of the National Rifle Association providing valuable services to the subcommittee may have violated the law and the Rules of the House. This issue should have been investigated and resolved. It was not.
The refusal of the subcommittee chairman and the majority to investigate these issues fully and openly — despite repeated requests by me and other Members who participated in the hearings — raises the most fundamental questions about the integrity of the majority report as well as the hearing and investigation conducted by the subcommittee.
Hon. Tom Lantos.
David Koresh – Sheshonahim
What happened to Brad Branch (Waco) and other warriors
If anyone has been watching Paramount TV’s Waco series, you might be wondering what happened to Brad, the big guy with the beard, who got kicked out of Mt Carmel by David Koresh (in the latest episode, Ep. 5, “Stalling for Time”) for drinking alcohol.
He got sentenced to 40 years in prison.
Five other Davidians got the same sentences.
One of them refused to appeal, on religious grounds.
In 2000, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the sentences, and they were reduced to 15 years each, for all six Davidians.
Kathryn Schroeder (Kathy, the woman in Ep. 5 who left because she was worried about her daughter) was charged with conspiracy manslaughter, was portrayed by ZOG prosecutors as the leader of the women’s militia (because she had some US military training), and was facing life in prison. She pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of forcibly resisting arrest, testified against the others the only Davidian to do so), and received a 3-year sentence.
Other Davidians got 13 years, 10 years, 5 years, and so on.
Aall after being framed, and after a massive government cover-up.
All for daring to defend themselves and their families against trained assassins who were in the service of the demonic ZOG.
5 Each Get 40 Years In Waco Case
New York Times, June 18, 1994
SAN ANTONIO, June 17— Ignoring pleas for leniency from the defendants and the forewoman of the jury that convicted them, a Federal judge today sentenced five Branch Davidians to 40 years in prison for their roles in a shootout near Waco in February 1993 in which four Federal agents and six cult members died.
The shootout began a 51-day standoff that ended when the sect’s leader, David Koresh, and 78 of his followers died in a fire after F.B.I. agents assaulted the sect’s compound with tear gas and tanks equipped with battering rams.
Judge Walter S. Smith of Federal District Court handed down sentences ranging from 5 to 20 years for three other defendants, and the eight were collectively ordered to pay fines and restitution to the Government of more than $1 million dollars.
Most of the defendants sat stone-faced during the sentencing proceedings, but there were several sobs from family members in the courtroom. As the defendants were being led away, a female visitor shouted “Give us liberty or give us death!” but was quickly silenced by Federal marshals. Defense Lawyers Protest
The long sentences provoked angry reactions from defense lawyers.
“The prosecution was successful in getting the judge to completely ignore the jury’s wishes,” said Mike DeGeurin, the lawyer for Paul G. Fatta, who was sentenced to 15 years in prison and fined $50,000.
Another defense lawyer, Joe Turner, said of the defendants, “The judge slam-dunked them.”
But the chief Federal prosecutor, Ray Jahn, said he was “relieved” by the sentences, adding: “It’s clear that the judge did a careful job in crafting his decision. We prosecuted these people for their actions, not their religious beliefs, and they were fairly and justly sentenced according to their actions.”
The gun battle began on Feb. 28, 1993, when nearly 100 agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms stormed the sect’s rural compound near Waco to serve search and arrest warrants on the cult’s leader.
The raid was widely criticized and was the subject of a searing report by the Treasury Department, which oversees the firearms agency. The report, which led to the resignation of Stephen Higgins, the head of the agency, accused bureau officials of mismanaging the raid and subsequent investigations.
The five defendants sentenced to 40 years in prison were Renos Avraam, 29, Brad Branch, 34, Jaime Castillo, 25, Livingstone Fagan, 34, and Kevin Whitecliff, 32, all of whom participated in the gun battle, according to trial testimony. Each was sentenced to 10 years for voluntary manslaughter and 30 years for weapons violations. With time off for good behavior, a 40-year sentence amounts to a minimum of 35 1/2 years in prison.
The sentences are to run consecutively. The five were also fined amounts ranging from $2,000 to $10,000 and were ordered to pay restitution of $1,131,687.49.
Mr. Fatta, 35, was sentenced to five years for conspiracy to manufacture or possess machine guns and 10 years for aiding and abetting Mr. Koresh in possessing machine guns. The terms run consecutively. Mr. Fatta was also ordered to pay $50,000 in fines.
Mr. Fatta was absent from the compound on the day of the raid, but prosecutors accused him of being the sect’s “blood merchant” because he had purchased many of its weapons, 2 Get Lighter Sentences
Judge Smith handed down less than the maximum sentences in only two of the cases. Graeme L. Craddock, who had faced up to 40 years, was sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession of a hand grenade and 10 years on the reinstated weapons charges. Ruth Riddle, the only female defendant, was sentenced to five years for use of a firearm in the commission of a crime. With time off for good behavior, Mr. Craddock would serve at least 16 1/2 years and Ms. Riddle would serve at least four years.
Judge Smith said he reduced their sentences because they were the only defendants to show any remorse for their actions. He also said that Ms. Riddle “was as malleable as a soft piece of clay” in the hands of Mr. Koresh.
At least two defense lawyers indicated that they planned to appeal the sentences. Prosecutors, meanwhile, said any possible appeals of the lighter sentences would be left to the Justice Department. In addition, a number of civil suits arising from the raid and the fire are pending. In a statement today, the firearms agency said, “For those of us who serve our justice system, that system has today served us by reaffirming the penalty that must be paid when law-enforcement officers attempting to enforce our laws are violently attacked.”
The sentences followed a seven-week trial this year in which 11 Branch Davidians faced murder, conspiracy and weapons charges. All were found not guilty of the most serious charges; three were cleared entirely, and eight were convicted of lesser counts.
A related conviction for using firearms in a violent crime was at first dismissed against seven defendants but was later reinstated by Judge Smith after prosecutors appealed, despite post-trial comments by several jurors that they had not fully understood all the charges. It was on that charge that Judge Smith based the 30-year sentences he delivered today.
The jury forewoman, Sarah Bain, was clearly upset by the severity of the sentences. Quietly weeping outside the courtroom, Mrs. Bain, a 47-year-old high school Spanish teacher, said: “I accept a whole lot of the blame for this. If we had done our job properly, we could have reduced these sentences by 30 years. I’m extremely upset, and at least two-thirds of the jury will be at least as upset as I am.”
An alternate juror who also attended the hearing today, Mary Pardo, agreed. “The judge disregarded the jury’s intentions,” she said. “They said there wasn’t a conspiracy to murder agents, and today the judge said there was and sentenced as if there was. He ignored the jury’s conclusions.”
Mrs. Bain said she had hoped her presence in the courtroom would serve as a silent reminder to Judge Smith about her request for leniency in sentencing the Branch Davidians. Letter to Judge
On May 11, Mrs. Bain wrote Judge Smith that jurors had not intended to convict the defendants on the disputed gun charges, and she said she was ‘incredulous’ that sentencing guidelines could require sentences of 5 to 30 years. “Even five years is too severe a penalty for what we believed to be a minor charge,” Mrs. Bain wrote.
On Thursday in open court, Judge Smith said he had never received her letter.
Judge Smith also told the courtroom on Thursday that his office had been besieged by an “obviously organized” telephone campaign from callers around the country pleading for leniency in behalf of the defendants. But he said his options were limited by recent changes to Federal sentencing guidelines.
Speaking to reporters and visitors in the courtroom before announcing his sentences, Judge Smith said, “Judges used to have almost unlimited discretion in sentencing, but several years ago you decided you didn’t like that and, acting via the Congress, you voted to change it.
“In an earlier era, before the surge of crime in this country caused Congress to attempt to micro-manage sentences handed down by Federal courts, judges could actually weigh relative culpability and exercise discretion in formulating appropriate sentences,” Judge Smith said today before announcing his sentences. “Such is not now the case.”
Defense lawyers scoffed at Judge Smith’s assessment. “His statements were calculated for the media,” said one, who refused to be identified for fear of endangering his client. “He could have done many things to reduce these sentences, including re-examining the whole issue of whether or not the jury’s sentiments are being adequately reflected by what he’s doing.”
Gerald Goldstein, president-elect of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, said the sentences sent a dangerous signal about the current state of the legal system. “Any citizen should be concerned that they received sentences that severe for conduct during a crime they were found not to have committed,” he said.
(Photos: Sarah Bain, above, the jury forewoman, was visibly upset by the stiff sentences for five Branch Davidians. The five Branch Davidians who received 40-year prison sentences yesterday are, clockwise from upper left, Renos Avraam, Kevin Whitecliff, Livingstone Fagan, Brad Branch and Jaime Castillo.)
Jailed Branch Davidians wait, hope as Waco probe reopened
CNN, September 17, 1999
From National Correspondent Tony Clark
BEAUMONT, Texas (CNN) – At the U.S. Penitentiary outside Beaumont, Texas, Jaime Castillo waits and hopes that the renewed investigation into the Waco tragedy will bring what he terms “justice.”
Castillo, 31, is one of seven Branch Davidians still serving time for their involvement in the 1993 shoot-out with agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, which precipitated a 51-day siege.
Castillo and fellow inmate Brad Branch – both convicted on weapons charges and voluntary manslaughter – were at the front door of the compound that the Davidians called Mt. Carmel with their leader, David Koresh, when the ATF raided the complex on February 28, 1993. They dispute the ATF’s assertion that the Davidians fired first.
‘David opened the door …’
“They fired first,” says Branch. “David opened the door, and, to me, it was courageous. He opened the door, and he put his hand out.”
“I heard him say, ‘Wait a minute, there are women and children here. Let’s talk,’” says Castillo. “And then I heard a gunshot from the outside. He backed off, slammed the door and by then, there was sporadic gunfire everywhere.”
Throughout the ensuing standoff, the Davidians’ distrust of the FBI increased as armored vehicles circled the building and electricity was cut off.
“What I remember of those days is listening to radio news reports constantly and wondering when the American people were going to stand up,” says Kevin Whitecliff, another Davidian who was convicted of weapons charges and voluntary manslaughter.
“I mean, I thought … this has never happened in this country. I’m sure these people are going to come … down and they’re going to ask questions. Why? Why did this take place? Why are there tanks on this property?” he says.
Whitecliff and Branch left Mt. Carmel 20 days into the standoff. Castillo was there until the end.
“A lot of individuals such as myself didn’t want to leave because we were directly being challenged, not so much on the circumstances that happened but with respect to our faiths, our beliefs,” Castillo said.
The Davidians, Castillo says, thought the FBI and ATF weren’t just after their guns but attacking their faith – and that just stiffened resistance inside the compound.
While Congress and a special investigator prepare to take another look at what happened at Waco, there is little talk about the Davidians who remain behind bars.
“I want to know what they’re going to do about innocent people who are convicted and are spending 40 years in federal prison,” says Rocket Rosen, an attorney for the Davidians. “I never hear that talked about.”
Rosen defended two Branch Davidians during their 1994 criminal trial.
“We’re finding out what the government had and didn’t turn over,” Rosen says. “What else did they have? What else haven’t they turned over?”
Branch and other Davidians believe there has been a widespread cover-up, and the prospect of another congressional probe doesn’t give him much hope.
“We don’t need another dog-and-pony show like the 1995 (congressional) hearings,” he says.
‘Just another cover-up’
There is even concern that the scope of former Sen. John Danforth’s investigation won’t go far enough.
“He says he’s only going to investigate the day of April 19, and he wants to show, or he wants to … investigate if there were lies and cover-up,” Branch says. “To me, to only do April 19 is just another cover-up.”
April 19, 1995, was the day that the 51-day siege ended when a massive fire destroyed the Branch Davidian compound. The bodies of Koresh and some 80 of his followers were found inside. Most died from the fire; a few died from gunshot wounds.
Until now, Castillo says everyone has taken the government’s version of events as gospel.
“I think if people really look into the case and analyze it objectively, they’ll say, ‘Yeah, we’ve been done wrong,’” he says.
Seven Branch Davidians remain in federal prison in connection with the shoot-out. One is expected to be released in 2006 and another in 2010. The other five, including Branch, Castillo and Whitecliff, aren’t expected to be released until 2028.
Standoff Survivors Stay Away From Branch Davidians Compound Site
Religion News Blog [an “Anti-Cult” racket], April 20, 2006
A handful of surviving Branch Davidians gathered Wednesday at a local restaurant to mark the 13th anniversary of the deadly fire that ended the 51-day standoff with federal agents at Mt. Carmel, outside of Waco.
This is the first time since the standoff that survivors have not gathered at the compound site for a memorial service.
Those who did show up Wednesday for a service at the site are forming a new church called The Branch, The Lord, Our Righteousness.
It’s the seventh incarnation of the group, which moved into the area in 1935 under the leadership of a Bulgarian immigrant, Victor Houteff and established a commune on 189 acres in the area of what is now the private Vanguard school.
The size of the group swelled in the late 50s on the strength of a prediction that the kingdom of God would be established on April 22, 1959.
That didn’t happen, however, and the group scattered and splintered.
Most of the remaining members moved to a new commune on the site outside of Waco where David Koresh and his followers held the agents at bay 13 years ago.
Six of those followers, meanwhile, are about to be released from prison.
Most of those who will be freed over the next two months escaped from the compound near Waco as it burned to the ground on April 19, 1993.
The six men went to federal prison for manslaughter, weapons offenses or both in connection with the Feb. 28, 1993 shootout, which left four federal agents and six Davidians dead.
Once the men are out, they will be under supervised release for three to five years.
Among other things, they will be barred from associating with one another.
A seventh Davidian is also still behind bars but is not scheduled for release until next year.
Most of the convicted Davidians were sentenced to 40-year terms, but in 2000, a judge reduced most of the sentences to 15 years.
Kevin A. Whitecliff, 44, to be released next week in San Antonio; convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
Jaime Castillo, 37, to be released next month in San Diego; convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
Paul Gordon Fatta, 48, to be released next month in Los Angeles; convicted of conspiracy to possess machine guns and aiding Davidian leader David Koresh in possessing machine guns.
Renos Lenny Avraam, 42, to be released next month from Oakdale, La.; convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
Graeme Leonard Craddock, 44, to be released next month from Oakdale, La.; convicted of possessing a grenade and using or possessing a firearm during a crime.
Brad Eugene Branch, 47, to be released in June from Manchester, Ky., convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
Livingstone Fagan, 46, to be released next year from Marion, Ill.; convicted of voluntary manslaughter and using a firearm during a crime.
Ruth Riddle, released in 1997; sentenced to five years for using or carrying a weapon during a crime.
Kathryn Schroeder, released in 1996; sentenced to three years after pleading guilty to a reduced charge of forcibly resisting arrest. She was the only Davidian to testify against the others.
Judge Walter Smith, Jr. gives an unanticipated reprieve to Branch Davidian Livingston Fagan, reducing his sentence for manslaughter and weapons charges to 15 years from 40.
Robert Bryce, Austin Chronicle, Sept. 22, 2000
Tell It to the Judge
Livingston Fagan’s faith rests with God, not U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr. But Smith is smiling upon Fagan anyway. In an order entered last Friday, Smith reduced Fagan’s federal prison sentence from 40 years to 15 years.
The problem is that Fagan didn’t even appeal his sentence. The appeals were made by other Branch Davidians who were convicted in Smith’s courtroom in 1994. Fagan, one of the staunchest believers in David Koresh and Branch Davidian teachings, has refused to acknowledge the standing of the court, saying that only God can judge his guilt or innocence. Despite Fagan’s obstinance, Smith reduced the sentences of Fagan and the other Branch Davidians – Renos Avraam, Brad Branch, Jamie Castillo, Kevin Whitecliff, and Graeme Craddock – who were found guilty of manslaughter and weapons charges.
Although the jury in the case did not find any of the Davidians guilty of the two biggest charges – conspiracy and murder – it did find them guilty of using a firearm in the commission of a federal offense. Smith initially said that the firearms charge would be set aside because it conflicted with the acquittal on the main charges. But two days later, he sentenced the men for using automatic firearms, even though there was no proof that any of the accused had used that type of weapon during the Davidians’ shootout with federal agents on February 28, 1993.
On June 5, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously reversed Smith’s ruling in the 1994 criminal case and sided with the Davidians, saying that the firearms issue should have been submitted to a jury. That ruling forced Smith to re-sentence the Davidians. In his ruling reducing Fagan’s sentence, Smith wrote that it would be “manifestly unfair not to reduce his sentence also.”
The move was applauded by John Carroll, a San Antonio lawyer who represents Avraam. “I’m impressed,” said Carroll of Smith’s ruling. “He didn’t have to do it. But I think it was the right thing to do.”
Smith, however, apparently has a low opinion of Fagan. In a motion filed on Sept. 11 in the Davidians’ civil suit against the government, the plaintiffs allege that during the recent trial, the Branch Davidians’ lead attorney, Michael Caddell, was reading an excerpt from Fagan’s deposition when Smith interrupted and commanded Caddell and government attorneys to approach the bench. Once at the bench, Smith “referred to Fagan as a ‘crazy murdering son of a bitchí’ and expressed a willingness to exclude Fagan’s testimony if the government wished,” the court document says. “However, the government also wished to use portions of Fagan’s deposition, and again, the Court relented.”
Caddell’s motion says that Smith also denounced some of the plaintiff’s trial materials as “bullcrap,” wrongly prevented plaintiffs from using a videotaped deposition of FBI commander Richard Rogers during closing arguments, and prevented the court’s advisory jurors from viewing or considering the forward-looking infrared videotape shot by government planes during the government’s final assault on Mount Carmel.
The cumulative effect of Smith’s statements and rulings, say the plaintiffs, show Smith’s “deep-seated bias against the Plaintiffs and in favor of the government.” The motion asks for Smith to declare a mistrial in the civil case and assign it to another judge. Smith apparently did not like Caddell’s motion. Visitors to the federal courthouse in Waco last week were told that Caddell’s 18-page motion was “sealed” and that no copies would be available to the public.
Six Branch Davidians Due for Release 13 Years After Waco Inferno
Associated Press, April 19, 2006
WACO, Texas – Thirteen years after the Branch Davidians’ armed standoff with federal agents ended in an inferno that killed nearly 80 people, six sect members who were sent to prison are about to be released from custody.
Most of those who will be freed over the next two months escaped from the compound near Waco as it burned to the ground on April 19, 1993 — 51 days after a shootout that erupted when federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to arrest religious leader David Koresh for stockpiling guns and explosives.
The six men went to federal prison for manslaughter, weapons offenses or both in connection with the shootout, which left four federal agents and six Davidians dead.
Once the men are out, they will be on supervised release for three to five years. Among other things, they will be barred from associating with one another.
A seventh Davidian is also still behind bars but is not scheduled for release until next year.
One of the six, Paul Gordon Fatta, said he remains angry about the government’s actions.
“They needed their pound of flesh, so they took the survivors and put them on trial. Somebody had to pay,” Fatta, 48, told The Associated Press by telephone.
Koresh and nearly 80 followers, including two dozen children, died in a blaze that survivors say was ignited by tear gas sprayed into the compound buildings from military tanks. Authorities claim the Davidians committed suicide by setting the fire and shooting themselves.
Fatta is to be released next month in San Diego, where he was moved to a halfway house last year and now works at a restaurant. He was not at the compound during the standoff and was at a gun show in Austin during the shootout with the ATF. He said will live with his family after his release.
“I’m proud of my friends, and it was a privilege for me to have gone there to study the Bible, regardless of what the world thinks,” Fatta said. “If I had it to do all over again, I would do the same thing.”
Jaime Castillo, who is to be released next month from a Los Angeles halfway house, said he plans to remain there and try to rebuild his life by forming another band — which is how he met Koresh in 1988 — or by working as a personal trainer. The 37-year-old Castillo said he might visit the compound site, where a few survivors still meet for Bible study each weekend.
In 1994 in San Antonio, 11 Davidians went on trial; all were acquitted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder. However, five were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges and three were convicted on weapons charges. A 12th Davidian pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and testified against the others; she was sentenced to three years and was released in 1996.
The federal judge sentenced most to 40 years but in 2000 reduced most terms to 15 years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his decision. One of the eight was sentenced to five years on a weapons charge and got out in 1997.
Jane McKeehan of Johnson City, Tenn., whose 28-year-old son Todd McKeehan was one of the ATF agents killed, said she and her family have tried to focus on their son and not think too much about the Davidians.
“It is in our minds every day; it completely changes your life,” McKeehan said. “We’re Christians, and we know we’re going to see Todd again, so we try to focus on the good. He was doing what he wanted to do and was adamant about making it a better world.”
Branch Davidian survivors mark 20th anniversary of end of Waco standoff
Waco, Texas memorial service
Angela K. Brown, The Associated Press, April 19, 2013
WACO, Texas – On a grassy Texas prairie two decades ago, massive flames engulfed a religious sect’s compound where nearly 80 people – including two dozen children – had been holed up since a botched federal raid seven weeks earlier.
Millions watched live television coverage of the fiery end of the government’s standoff with Branch Davidian members, including sect leader David Koresh, whom authorities had been trying to arrest on weapons charges. Local hospitals prepared for burn victims, but only nine people escaped.
“After I jumped out, I could see the (burned) skin rolling off my hands,” said Clive Doyle, who lost his 18-year-old daughter in the fire but was able to escape after a military vehicle rammed a hole through the building. “It was pure horror.”
Emotional wounds remain raw for survivors and those who left the compound during the 51-day standoff, many who gathered for a memorial service Friday – exactly 20 years after the blaze. They still blame law enforcement agencies for the deaths of their relatives and friends, seeing the incident as an unwarranted government intrusion into personal and religious freedoms.
Most do not blame Koresh, and do not believe he held control over anyone.
Some survivors remain in Central Texas, but only a few still follow Koresh’s teachings and attend a weekly Bible study led by Doyle. Although some still believe Koresh was a prophet, others have turned against religion or associate church with painful memories.
“It haunts me every day of my life,” 29-year-old Heather Jones Burson said after the memorial service, which was attended by about 75 people who included survivors and others who blame the government. “To this day, I still don’t understand why. There were so many other ways to deal with it.”
ATF agents raided the compound about 10 miles outside Waco on Feb. 28, 1993, trying to arrest Koresh for stockpiling illegal weapons. But the group 7/87/8– an offshoot of the Seventh-day Adventists – had been tipped off about the raid, and a shootout ensued. Four agents and six Davidians were killed that day, and a standoff ensued.
As the weeks dragged on, federal authorities said they were becoming increasingly worried about the Davidian children possibly being abused. Koresh was known to have multiple “wives,” including preteen girls. Then on April 19, 1993, after an FBI negotiator shouted over a loudspeaker for Koresh to lead his people out and “be a messiah, not a destroyer,” military vehicles began ramming the buildings and spraying tear gas inside. A few hours later flames were seen spreading through the compound.
Authorities claim the Davidians committed suicide by setting the fire and shooting themselves. But survivors deny there was a suicide pact, saying military vehicles knocked over lanterns and ignited the blaze. Some independent experts have said FBI aircraft footage shows 57 flashes that indicate gunfire toward Davidians inside the compound or on the roof that morning.
In 1994 in San Antonio, 11 Davidians went on trial; all were acquitted of murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges. However, five were convicted of voluntary manslaughter and weapons charges, and three were convicted on weapons charges. A 12th Davidian pleaded guilty to a lesser charge in exchange for testifying against the others; she was sentenced to three years in prison and was released in 1996.
The federal judge sentenced most to 40 years in prison, but in 2000 reduced most terms to 15 years after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned his decision.
Paul Fatta, who was released from custody in 2006 and now lives in San Diego, told the group gathered Friday that he still considers himself a Branch Davidian. Fatta, who was at a gun show in Austin the day of the ATF raid but was convicted on weapons charges, said losing his friends – not serving prison time – was the hardest part.
“My suffering or what I went through is nothing compared to my friends who were on the property, and the kids. They are the ones who really suffered, and to live your life without your parents” is awful, Fatta said, referring to the children who left the compound during the standoff.
Burson, whose father and grandfather died in the fire, was the last of the 21 children who left the compound during the standoff; 14 adults also left. Burson, who got married on the 10th anniversary of the compound fire so she would associate the date with a positive event, said she cannot bear to go back to the site, where a wall of stones engraved with each victim’s names is at the property’s entrance.
“It’s painful, so sad,” she said, noting that she remembers riding go-carts with friends on the compound and being riveted by Koresh’s lengthy sermons about the end of the world.
“It makes me think of all of the memories, and now it’s just gone.”