AUSTIN AMERICAN-STATESMAN Tuesday March 1 Pg B3
"CULT" TRIAL JURORS RIP GOVERNMENT'S ACTION IN RAID
San Antonio - Jurors in the Branch Davidian trial said they
quickly rejected murder and murder conspiracy charges and were
critical of the government's actions, according to reports
"Four agents were killed in what they were told to do. They did
it in the line of duty....We can never replace their lives and
our sympathies are with their families," a woman juror told
KGNB radio in New Braunfels.
"But on the other hand, over 80 women and children and a few
men died in that horrible fire (that ended the 51-day Davidian
standoff)... and we can't justify that either. So two wrongs
never make a right," she said.
The juror, a New Braunfels resident, requested anonymity. U.S.
District Judge Walter Smith had ordered jurors' identities be
kept secret during the trial, but he told them they could speak
with reporters afterward.
A male juror, also requesting anonymity, told WOAI radio in San
Antonio: "The government might think that was a defeat, but not
really. It was a verdict that perhaps they were too vigilant in
their serving of the search warrant."
On Saturday, the jury in the San Antonio trial acquitted all 11
Branch Davidian defendants of murder and murder conspiracy
charges in connection with the Feb 28, 1993, killing of four
federal agents who attempted to serve search and arrest
warrents at the Davidian compound. Five Davidians were
convicted of voluntary manslaughter, and two were convicted of
weapons charges. Four were acquitted of all charges.
Jurors criticized the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms
for the way it stormed David Koresh's compound near Waco with
dozens of agents who poured out of two cattle trailers.
The male juror said the ATF would have been better off "if they
had just gone out there with three or four men in business
suits and just knocked on the door. But they didn't."
The woman juror also criticized the raid plan.
"I don't know what the average person would do - probably panic
and fall on the floor. But these people did not," the woman
juror said. "No one really knows to this day who started the
shooting, who shot the first shot."
The jurors said once the approximately 20 hours deliberations
began, the eight- woman, four-man panel quickly rejected murder
and murder conspiracy charges.
Convictions on those charges could have meant life prison
sentences. The manslaughter and weapons charges carry maximum
"We did feel that we had to put the count of manslaughter on a
number of them because they admitted to shooting.... We could
not let that go. We didn't have a difficult time with that
either," the woman told KGNB.
Prosecutors hurt their case by calling former Branch Davidians
to testify, the woman said. Former sect member Kathryn
Schroeder, who agreed to testify against her former religious
companions, had been considered the star prosecution witness.
Defense attorneys said afterward they thought they were helped
by Schroeder's statement that she did not participate in a
The male juror also said the testimony of Schroeder and former
Davidian Victorine Hollingsworth weighed heavily in their
Jurors were tremendously swayed by evidence of the FBI's
activity at the compound April 19 , when a fire destroyed
the place after government armored vehicles battered the
buildings and inserted tear gas, the woman juror said. Koresh
and 78 followers died in the inferno, some from gunshots.
"I couldn't imagine anybody being in a home with that many
women and children and having big tank coming through the front
door. And they penetrated a room's length or more.... This is
America. This isn't a police state. I don't care what they did.
I can't see that. And I wasn't predetermined. I didn't realize
the tanks had done that until I was shown by the govenment,"