A state district judge Wednesday awarded custody of Branch Davidian cult member Kathryn Schroeder’s 3-year-old son to the boy’s grandparents.
Judge Bill Logue of Waco’s 19th State District Court appointed Sandy and William Connizzo of Zephyr Hills, Fla., managing conservators of Brian Schroeder during a brief hearing.
However, the judge did so with the understanding that it was the court’s goal to reunite the child with his mother if possible.
The grandparents have been keeping the boy since Schroeder and her four children left the besieged Mount Carmel compound during the 51-day standoff with federal agents.
Schroeder’s first husband, William Mabb of Rapid City, S.D., has been given custody of the other three children. The 3-year-old is Schroeder’s son by her second husband, Michael Schroeder, who died on the first day of the standoff.
The hearing was requested by Children’s Protective Services workers, who thought it was time to “permanently place the child,” said Schroeder’s attorney, Scott Peterson.
Schroeder, 34, pleaded guilty Sept. 9 to one count of forcibly resisting federal officers sometime after the failed Feb. 28 raid on cult leader Vernon Howell’s religious compound east of Waco.
She faces a maximum 10 years in prison but probably will get less because of her cooperation with the government and expected testimony against 11 other cult members.
Federal prosecutors have said that Schroeder told them that she was hiding under a bed with her children when the raid occurred but has admitted to having a weapon during the standoff.
She would be eligible to be reunited with her son after serving her prison term, if she is sent to prison, Peterson said.
Like the others, Schroeder, before her plea bargain, had been charged with murdering officers, conspiracy to murder officers and weapons violations and faced two life prison terms plus 30 years in prison.
The other cult members are set to go on trial in San Antonio on Jan. 10.
Mrs. Connizzo is the mother of Michael Schroeder, who was shot and killed during a second gun battle with federal agents on Feb. 28.
Logue also granted possessory conservatorship and extensive visitation rights to Michael Schroeder’s brother and his wife, who also live in Florida.
Peterson said the judge thought it important for the younger Schroeders, who have children of their own, to play a dominant role in overseeing the boy’s development.
The judge allowed Kathryn Schroeder to have telephone and mail contact with her son and contact visits with her son during her incarceration.
Since her plea, she has been detained in the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service in an undisclosed location.