Three Branch Davidians charged in connection with the bloody raid that started the standoff at Mount Carmel pleaded not guilty Thursday to charges of firearms violations and conspiracy to murder federal agents.
Kathryn Schroeder, Brad Branch and Kevin Whitecliff were ordered held without bond by U.S. Magistrate Dennis Green. Green set a June 1 trial date for the trio.
Attorneys for Schroeder and Branch said they will seek to get their clients out of jail until their trial.
Prosecutors offered the example of fugitive cultist Paul Fatta to Green as a reason why the trio should be held. Fatta, who was at an Austin gun show when the Feb. 28 raid happened, has managed for weeks to elude federal agents seeking his arrest.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston offered a newspaper article in which Fatta cited “a loose network of sympathizers” with helping him to elude capture.
Johnston also included a letter from an Indianapolis attorney calling for an assembly of the “Unorganized Militia of the United States” to gather Saturday in Waco.
Johnston said that assembly could cause a “devastating problem” for federal and local law enforcement officials.
The most contentious defense was put on by Schroeder’s attorney, Scott Peterson, who sought to subpoena the undercover agent who was in the compound before the raid.
Peterson also sought a subpoena for Earl Dunagan, acting special agent-in-charge for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and any videotape agents might have of the actual assault. Green declined the requests.
Peterson said any videotape would contradict ATF testimony that someone was firing from Schroeder’s room.
“That would show very consistently what Ms. Schroeder has said all along – that she was hiding under the bed with her four kids during the raid as bullets were whizzing past her kids heads, not that she was in the room shooting bullets out,” Peterson told reporters.
Attorneys also said their clients were complaining about jail meals. Whitecliff’s attorney, Marlin Blackledge, said his client had refused to eat for three days because meals are not being prepared in accordance with Branch Davidian precepts.
While being escorted to the van that would take them back to jail, Branch said the government had reneged on a deal to allow cult members to eat meals that fit with their religious beliefs.
When asked what such a meal would include, Branch said “Not pork.”