Kevin Whitecliff

The transcript was posted February 18, 1995, by Carol Moore, who said, "Below are statements eight Branch Davidians made June 16 and 17, 1994 just before federal Judge Walter J. Smith sentenced them to a total of 240 years on aiding and abetting voluntary manslaughter and/or weapons charges ... These statements, taken from the trial transcript in the order in which they were made, have been edited somewhat for clarity and brevity."

Thank you, your honor, for giving me the time to give you an understanding of my feelings. I'm from Honolulu, Hawaii. We call that "paradise." And you know, to live in paradise, born and raised, and to pack your bags at an instant and leave, there's got to be reasons for that and justifications in anybody's mind, to just pack up, whether they're running from the law or whether they believe in a faith. I had the opportunity, through friends that I knew all my life, one of them being Steve Schneider, to get a few Bible studies and to get that understanding of: what were we supposed to do for today? I had always had questions like that. Being born and raised in America, where I've always heard God first, and then country. I have a curiosity for my God and to know what is asked of me today. What should I do to gain eternal life? What can I do for my family's salvation or my salvation?

I met somebody that I thought was pretty inspired. And he had a message and I couldn't refute it. So I followed him to Waco to learn more. And my life revolved around religion. From an Adventist school, I've always been taught 2000 year old questions. If Jesus came up to you and said, "I'll make you fishers of men, will you follow me?" That's always been in my mind. I wondered if I had the faith to do something like that.

I believe that the message that I heard, the Seven Seals, was an inspirational message. So I was there in Waco learning more of it. I wasn't convinced. No one's ever convinced. Studying the Bible is ongoing learning, it's daily learning. And that's why I was there.

I had come on April 3rd, 1992. I was asked to come and improve some property there. We built a gym, we built a swimming pool for our kids. These guys are some of the greatest individuals in the world. I lived with them for a couple of years and I've lived in all kinds of circumstances.

I've been a law enforcement officer, too, in Hawaii. I don't think we did anything wrong, except what we believe in. There's women and children in there. I think law enforcement should have really considered that there are kids, babies--babies on that land, mothers giving suck to those babies on that land. And the way they went ahead and bombarded the place, with 90 people armed to the hilt. I mean, being a former law enforcement agent myself, I can't fathom that type of reaction, especially as far as being your first choice of operation. I don't have a disrespect for people like the disrespect that was shown for us that day.

I thought I was going to die that day. I thought I was going to get blown away. And I couldn't believe this was our country doing this to its citizens. I couldn't believe it. In fact, I didn't see [who it was] until after the retreat. When I read what was on the backs of their clothes, I couldn't believe it, Judge. I could not believe that was a law enforcement agency that did that. I thought we got attacked by some kind of renegades or some kind of an anti-Christian group.

I was scared. I was so scared that I thought for two or three weeks I was going to die, until there was negotiations. Then I came out, in good faith and to see if there was justice in this country. And that's what I'm doing right now. I'm hoping, one last breath, because I'm not an articulate person. I just hope that you do extend as much mercy as you can on all of us as a group, on all of us. I can't see the justification for 30 years. No way.

Put in that situation where you've got women and children crying and screaming, "Oh, my God, please help us, save us, do something! They're shooting at us!" It's a reaction, because when bullets fly, they fly faster than the mind can perceive. And when you're hit, you go down. But until you are hit, you have a God-given instinct, and that God-given instinct is for self-preservation. You do anything, you pick up anything you can, if you life is threatened, to defend yourself. And you do your best to live another day or live another hour or another minute.

Every time I reflect on that day and what had happened, I don't think we were given any time at all to make any kind of decision that this Court would accept. No. It was either live or die. That was my experience. We have to go right back to self-preservation, it's God-given. You've got people attacking you. You've got women and children being fired at. It's a masculine thing, a protective thing.

I was raised in a family where we protected each other. I have a wife. I have children that haven't seen me in over two years now and they're asking me, "Dad, when are you coming home?"

And I just hope that the courts and the Judge will understand that we're there for our faith. We're there for our beliefs. We didn't ask anybody to provoke anything. There was no prior contempt in any way at all from us. We are law-abiding citizens. We all are law abiding citizens. And we'd probably still be there today, minding our own business, if the 28th of February 1993 never came. I think we're a plus to our community, and I think our neighbors could honestly tell you that we've done a lot of work for them for nothing. Unfortunately, that never came up publicly. I do not know why, but God will be the judge one day.

I personally have never been arrested in my whole life. I have never owned a weapon in my whole life or had a registration for a gun. I've never participated in a gun show. And I'll say 98 percent of the people there didn't either.

Count Three, I understand it's automatic weapons versus regular firearms. I have not been able to, even analyzing what happened in the trial and what I have before me, to [understand your] conclusion for us to have automatic weapons. I've never owned an automatic weapon. I've never fired an automatic weapon. I do not know what an automatic weapon would consist of. I want you to know [Mount Carmel] is big. There are places I've never been in that facility. There were certain places that were off limits.

What we did was not planned. It was a reaction. If you approach somebody by knocking up on their door and saying, "Hey, we've got some discrepancies, we've got some problems. We know you're a good old boy. We've dealt with you in the past."

We know the local county sheriffs. "Why don't you come on out and cooperate with us?"

There was none of that at all. There was cattle trucks to conceal 90 individuals that had firearms. There were three, four helicopters buzzing around, shooting people. What the ATF did was unjustifiable. They owe us an apology for what they've done, the type of tactics they've done, not considering at all the Constitution and the right for God- fearing people to assemble, as well as live together. I think they broke and violated everybody's constitutional rights to be there, just to be there in beliefs or searching for the truth. It takes time, it takes input, to search.

And I know you have decisions today, Judge, to make, and I know you're getting, probably, tired of me. I [see] your lack of eye contact, but I understand. I just want to get this over with and go home. My daughter wants to know when I'm coming home. My wife wants to know when I'm coming home. My mom wants to know when I'm coming home. I just want this to be over and behind me, and I think the other guys do, too.

As far as what the Government reported to the press, what the majority of the population thought and believed that we were, it was just a burden. I'm under duress. I've spent 15 months in jail. I'm not the same individual I was. Believe me, I'm not. I'm run down. I'm pressured out. It's taken its toll on me. It has. And I hope your decision today will consider that. Consider the fact that I've never been in trouble in my life. Consider that I've always had a job. Consider that I've paid my taxes and done the best job I can.

I hope you consider these people here. They have families, too. They have lives, too. Regardless, I know what you have to do, you have to do. Consider that I have a family, too, and a life I'd like to go ahead and pursue if it's at all possible with you. And I know my daughter, my son, would like to see me again before I'm 73. I'd like to have that chance to start over again. I think we all would like to have that chance.

You're never going to change our beliefs. Our beliefs are our beliefs, and they will stay with us, like Livingstone said. But the Government has a chance now to make a lot of wrong a little it more right, at least even it up a little bit on our behalf. And I think the people of this country are watching real closely to see what kind of decisions you'll make today. And I hope that you'll do the right thing and analyze the past of each of us and where we've been and what we've done. And I think you'll come to the conclusion in your heart that we're not common criminals, we don't fit the same M.O. If there is any more time to be spent [in prison], at least give us that opportunity, each one of us, give us that opportunity to have a future again.

(Kevin Whitecliff, 34, left Mount Carmel during the siege. He was sentenced to 40 years but appealed.)