A Branch Davidian was allowed to leave jail and return to a halfway house after agreeing to testify before a federal grand jury.
Gladys Ottman, 67, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, testified Wednesday.
Ottman, who left Mount Carmel in March during the siege, originally stayed at a halfway house. However, U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. ordered her jailed in May after she refused to answer questions posed to her by the federal grand jury.
Ottman decided to testify Wednesday while awaiting an appearance before Judge Smith. She wavered during informal discussions in the courtroom with her attorney, Gary Coker.
“Don’t say you will, then when it comes up to the main question, say, ‘I can’t answer that,’” Coker warned. “Don’t waste everyone’s time.”
After hushed deliberations, Coker turned to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bill Johnston and said, “She will testify.”
Outside the court, Coker said Ottman balked during her previous grand jury appearance out of concern for the Branch Davidians facing criminal offenses.
Five cult members are charged with conspiracy to murder a federal officer — Clive Doyle, 52; Brad Branch, 34; Kevin Whitecliff, 31; Jaime Castillo, 24; and Kathryn Schroeder, 30.
Woodrow Kendrick, 63, and Norman Allison, 28, are charged with attempted murder of a federal officer.
The charges stem from the Feb. 28 raid on Mount Carmel, in which four agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were killed. Six Branch Davidians are also believed to have died in the shootout.
“She thinks they’re heroes,” Coker said. “She believes they saved the lives of the women and children in Mount Carmel. Mrs. Ottman is very hesitant to say anything that might hurt them.”
Branch Davidian Sheila Martin, the wife of late Waco attorney Wayne Martin, who died in the April 19 fire that destroyed Mount Carmel, was released from a halfway house Monday, Coker said. Cult member James Lawter, 70, will likewise be released when he can find a place to stay, said his attorney, Walter M. Reaves Jr. Both are considered material witnesses.
Martin will live in Boston with her mother and father.
“The government doesn’t want her here,” Coker said. “I guess they want to break the group up. I don’t know. I don’t understand the government any better than I understand the Seven Seals.”
“One day you’ll understand,” a beaming Sheila Martin told him.
Martin said she still believes in cult leader Vernon Howell, who preached that he could “open” the Seven Seals, a series of catastrophic events spoken of in Revelation, which many Christians believe will signal the end of the world.
Howell, 33, died in the Mount Carmel fire. Besides her husband, Martin also lost four children in the fire. Three of her children left the compound during the siege and survived.
Cult members may be separated, but Branch Davidians will live on, Martin said.
“God always has a people,” she said. “This is not the end. There will always be people to present his word. We study together.
“Reading the Psalms, we keep seeing more and more of the prophecies being fulfilled. It strengthens us to just hold on.”