A Waco judge has set a trial date for March 20 in a civil suit filed by George Roden against members of the Branch Davidian Seventh-day Adventists to determine ownership of 77 acres near Elk.
The land, once known as Rodenville but now called the New Mount Carmel Center, has been the center of dispute between the rival religious factions for at least 10 years.
Roden asked Judge Derwood Johnson of Waco’s 74th State District Court on Wednesday for a quick court setting to resolve the suit. Johnson also has scheduled a January 27 hearing on a motion from an attorney for the Branch Davidians who is asking Johnson to dismiss the lawsuit.
Members of the splinter group, who say they were forced from the land at gunpoint by Roden, reclaimed the land when Roden was sentenced to jail in March on federal and state contempt of court charges.
Roden, who was released Dec. 26, claims he is the rightful owner of the land and president of the religious association.
Roden was found in contempt of court for violating a 1979 court order forbidding him from living on the land. The Branch Davidians, who paid $62,000 in back taxes on the land after Roden was jailed, claimed ownership.