Revolution

The Davidian Trial: (In)Justice in America

By Gary Hunt, who held David Koresh's power of attorney during the ATF-Davidian standoff in 1993:

I spoke with Sarah Bain the other day. She was foreman of the jury for the Branch Davidian Trial. She was also the author of a letter which was sent to Judge Walter Smith, who presided over the trial, in which she asked the Court to understand what led to the verdicts which were handed down.

In the letter, while discussing the Count Three (using or carrying a firearm) she describes the thoughts of the jury, "At the time the jury questioned among ourselves how sentencing could be carried out fairly, since there surely must be a more serious penalty for 'using' as opposed to 'carrying' a firearm, and since we were not charged to identify which defendants, if any, should be found guilty of actually 'using' the firearms."

She points out that this charge carries "a penalty of from five to thirty years in prison." This is followed by the exclamation, "I am incredulous!"

It is clear by the letter that, "the crimes that the 'carrying/using' took place was that of aiding and abetting a voluntary manslaughter and not conspiracy to murder or aiding and abetting murder (all defendants were found not guilty of these charges)."

She later discusses the charges against Graeme Craddock, and says, "we felt we had no choice but to find him guilty in Count Three. We even discussed whether or not this was not a type of double jeopardy -- not of being tried twice for the same crime but of being punished twice for the same crime."

Ruth Riddle "retrieved a 'long gun' from under her bed and had passed it downstairs. It is unfathomable that, for this act, she is facing even five years, much less thirty years, in prison." Sarah clarifies this issue when she states, "If we had interpreted 'carrying' literally, she would be totally free since there was no proof beyond a reasonable doubt that she even walked to the window of her room while in possession of a firearm!"

Regarding other defendants, she says "on Count Two: the five individuals found guilty: Brad Eugene Branch, Kevin A. Whitecliff, Jaime Castillo, Livingston Fagan, and Renos Avraam, were not found guilty of voluntary manslaughter, but of aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter ... the jury never believed these individuals themselves committed the crime of voluntary manslaughter. Further, we did believe, and the charge to the jury gave credence to the belief, that aiding and abetting was a 'lesser charge'."

This is not consistent with what the Court relayed through the press.

Regarding the bringing back of the "carrying" charge, she states, "We certainly had no knowledge that the penalty for a guilty verdict would be tied to a conspiracy charge as alleged in Count One."

The Sentence on this charge was 30 years for the five named above.

Obviously, the Court perceived the guilt differently than the jury, or the Court has it's own agenda.

Sarah concluded her letter with 'It is now in the Court's hands to assure that our intentions are not belied." Based on our conversation, Sarah now feels that the judge ignored her letter, ignored the intent of the jury, and ignored the determination of the jury.

Sarah, when asked if she believed that Judge Smith intended to give the Davidians as close to life terms as he could, said this was probably true.

She made clear that what has come of the Trial is not what the jury intended. The charge to the jury was 68 pages. As indicated by the portions of the letter above, there was misunderstanding. Moreover, Sarah is fully aware that it was difficult to understand the charge as well as the verdict sheets. Sarah was grateful that the manslaughter option was there. She felt that some of the jurors would have had to find some guilt and perhaps gone with the conspiracy to murder charge. The manslaughter charge stated that if the agents were killed "after adequate provocation" the charge should be manslaughter. There was no doubt in the jurors' minds that "adequate provocation" existed. Sarah felt this left some burden on the government.

She was appalled that those who were even remotely associated with the death of the agents got ten years for that relationship. "Those who carried weapons got thirty years," she said. "This does not equate in my book."

Sarah indicated the jurors were looking forward to hearing a religious expert who was on the defense witness list. The expert would have given more background about the church. Jury members were disappointed when that testimony was not allowed.

The jury also looked forward to Dick DeGuerin's testimony, which would have corroborated Jack Zimmerman's testimony. Sarah felt that more evidence, which was not allowed, may have helped the jury to understand more of what occurred on both February 28 and April 19, 1993.

When asked if she felt that the jury felt that the Davidians were within their right to defend themselves, Sarah replied that she felt this would be the feeling of the jury. They felt the manslaughter charge was the lowest charge they could go because lives were lost. When asked whether there was an option for "justifiable homicide", Sarah said there was no option that might have allowed a lesser charge. Based on the instruction, they felt a guilty verdict was necessary and that the manslaughter charge was the best they could do.

The arrest warrant cover page, for David Koresh's arrest, was presented. But there was no affidavit in support thereof. We are still wondering if there was a "legitimate" reason for the events of February 28, 1993.

There can be little doubt that (in)justice in America is a tool of government which is used to "get back" at those who, in this case, defend their very lives. A law enforcement officer who kills a citizen (whether the citizen is armed or not) is given time off, with pay, pending an investigation. When and if the case goes before a coroner's inquest, nearly every case is "justifiable homicide." Why is that option available to police, but not available to the American People"?

And the sentence for America? Despotism.