AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN June 15, 1994 Wed Pg B2 Davidian Case Juror Asks Judge To Be Le
AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN June 15, 1994 Wed Pg B2
Davidian Case Juror Asks Judge To Be Lenient
The jury foreman in the murder conspiracy case against 11
Branch Davidians has asked the federal judge who will be
sentencing the defendants later this week to be lenient, the
Associated Press learned Tuesday.
Sara Vain, who headed jury deliberations in the San Antonio
trial of David Koresh's followers earlier this year, says the
punishment prosecutors are seeking is too harsh.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Walter Smith, Vain said she
was astonished that seven of the defendants are facing 30 years
in prison for convictions on weapons charges that initially
were thrown out.
Defendant Ruth Riddle would have been acquitted of all charges
and freed if Smith hadn't reinstated convictions against the
seven for carrying firearms during the commission of a crime.
"It's unfathomable that she (Riddle) is facing five years, much
less 30 years in prison," Vain wrote. "If we had interpreted
the word 'carrying' literally, she would be totally free since
there was no proof beyond reasonable doubt that she even walked
to the window of her room while in possession of a firearm!"
Vain and other jurors have said the panel reached the weapons
charge conviction by mistake.
Smith said originally that he would throw out the convictions
of Renos Avraam, Brad Branch, Jaime Castillo, Livingston Fagan,
Kevin Whitecliff, Graeme Craddock and [Ruth] Riddle for
carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime.
The judge said the [weapons] convictions were invalid because
the jury had acquitted the Davidians of the murder conspiracy
charge. But Smith reversed himself after prosecutors provided
case law showing that inconsistent verdicts are legally valid.
Prosecutor John Phinizy said it's not the jury's job to be
concerned with sentencing.
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