A prominent Houston attorney who successfully represented former death row inmate Muneer Mohammad Deeb has been hired by the mother of cult leader Vernon Howell and is hoping to see his client soon.
Bonnie Haldeman, Howell’s mother, hired Dick DeGuerin on Tuesday to represent Howell, who is holed up in the fortified Mount Carmel compound 10 miles east of Waco.
“The only thing that I am asking at this time is for the court to authorize access between attorney and client. They are in a state of siege, which is the same thing as being under arrest, and a person under arrest has a right to talk to a lawyer. In fact, anybody has a right to talk to a lawyer and if there is anybody in this country right now who needs a lawyer, it is David Koresh,” DeGuerin said Wednesday, referring to Howell by the name he has used since changing it in 1990.
DeGuerin was listed as Howell’s attorney of record in a motion filed Tuesday in Federal court by Waco attorney Gary Coker and Houston attorney Kirk B. Lyons seeking a temporary restraining order against the federal government and its handling of the Branch Davidian siege.
DeGuerin said he knew the motion was to be filed but concurs only with its requests to allow him access to Howell.
A former associate of the late, fabled Houston criminal defense attorney Percy Foreman, DeGuerin won acquittal for Deeb in January in Fort Worth. Deeb spent six years on death row after his conviction in 1985 in the reported murder-for-hire deaths of three teenagers at Lake Waco. He won a new trial in 1991.
U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. has not scheduled a hearing on the motion, a court spokesperson said Wednesday.
Coker, who represented Howell and seven of his followers in 1988 after a shootout with religious rival George Roden, said he thinks open communication with outside attorneys would hasten negotiations, now stalled after 12 days.
“Nobody wants those people to die in there,” Coker said. “It’s at least maybe a way out.”
Former McLennan County District Attorney Vic Feazell, who now lives in Austin, also has offered to represent members of the besieged compound.