by Benedict D. LaRosa
As the trial of 11 surviving Branch
Davidians for murder and conspiracy to murder federal officers enters its third
week, several matters related to the trial have come to light.
According to information given to
Larry Dodge, Director of the Fully Informed Jury Association (FIJA), by one of
the defense attorneys, presiding Judge Waller Smith denied requests by
attorneys for the Branch Davidians to subpoena 33 defense witnesses because he
considered their testimony to be irrelevant. Since a list of witnesses is not
available and a gag order imposed by the judge prevents the attorneys from
discussing the case, it has been impossible to verify this information or to
know how it affects the defense. A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney would only
say that Judge Smith had denied some defense subpoenas, but would not say how
Seventy-Seven year old Catherine
Matteson — one of the survivors of the Mt. Carmel siege — told an
Austin television audience late last year that the first shots she heard were
fired from three helicopters strafing David Koresh's room. Matteson left the
Branch Davidian complex the fourth day of the siege at the request of Koresh.
She was arrested and charged with murder and conspiracy to murder federal
officers, but all charges against her were subsequently dropped.
On November 3, 1993, Gladys Ottman,
another Branch Davidian who left Mt. Carmel during the siege, wrote to a friend
in San Antonio that a British member of their community, Derick Lovelock, had
witnessed about 30 fellow Davidians shot down as they tried to escape the fire
through rear exits.
Another Branch Davidians, Katherine
Jones, claimed that Lovelock told her the firing came from men shooting out of
helicopters. Since the FBI restricted the media to an area two miles in front
of the complex, news cameras did not catch what was happening anywhere else.
Although originally held as a material witness, federal authorities released
Lovelock to return to England last October. It is not known whether he will
appear as a witness.
Despite the extensive precautions
taken by Judge Walter Smith to keep the Branch Davidian jury anonymous, FIJA
activists found out their names and addresses late January 10, the first day of
jury selection. By the next afternoon, all of them had been mailed a Jury Power
Information Kit. No mention was made of the Branch Davidian trial in any of the
material, nor were the jurors advised how to vote. Judge Smith learned of the
contact and warned the jurors at the close of proceedings on January 14 not to
read anything which came in the mail pertaining to their duty as jurors. He
ordered them to turn all such material over to him. Five jurors did so when the
trial reconvened on January 18. Judge Smith then asked the jurors if they had
been influenced by the FIJA material. None admitted having been influenced by
Judge Smith has apparently been caught
in a lie. When FIJA activists tried to obtain the master jury wheel on January
3 and again on January 7, the Clerk of Court denied them access to the list
because Judge Smith's order for anonymity covered the entire wheel. FIJA then
filed a Motion for Production of the Master Jury Wheel. Judge Smith denied FIJA
Motion for Leave to File claiming FIJA had no standing in his court. The Motion
for Production of the Master Jury Wheel was, therefore, never considered. Yet,
Judge Smith told the jurors on January 18 that "By federal law, anyone can
get the names of the entire master jury wheel."
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