The defense attorney for Branch Davidian Kathryn Schroeder is hoping a long-distance deposition from her children will help set their mother free.
Attorney Scott Peterson introduced the depositions from Schroeder’s three children at a Wednesday hearing in an attempt to prove that she was under the bed with them during the Feb.28 raid, not at the window of their room firing at federal agents.
According to the portions of the depositions read in court, the children told Peterson by telephone that Schroeder was under the bed with them in an effort to shield them from gunfire. The three children, aged 7, 9 and 11, are living with their father in South Dakota.
That firefight, in which four agents and a reported six cultists were killed, started the 51-day siege that culminated in a raging blaze that completely consumed the sprawling Mount Carmel complex April 19.
Schroeder and her children were among the 36 residents that were sent out during the siege. Officials say as many as 86 residents could have perished in that fire.
Schroeder has been held in McLennan County Jail since she came out of the compound March 12, first as a material witness and then on charges of conspiracy to murder federal agents. Peterson is appealing an earlier order that she continue to be held until her trial at an as-yet unspecified time.
Peterson argued that the case against Schroeder is weak. “What we’re trying to show with these sworn statements is that she will want to come forward with her children and show that she didn’t do anything wrong that day,” Peterson told U.S. District Judge Walter Smith.
Assistant U.S. Attorney John Convery took the same deposition and read a portion that showed Schroeder may have left the children, gotten a weapon and gone over to the window of their room. But Peterson retorted that that was after the shooting had stopped, and that was a natural action after all the shooting that went on that morning.
Schroeder sat quietly and glumly throughout the hearing, cradling a small framed picture of one of her children in her hand.
A superseding indictment handed up by a Waco federal grand jury added still another charge to Schroeder’s problems.
The indictment charges Schroeder and fellow Branch Davidians Brad Branch, Kevin Whitecliff, Clive Doyle and Jaime Castillo with conspiring to kill federal agents.
The indictment also names Schroeder, Branch and Whitecliff on charges of possession of firearms during commission of a crime. Schroeder, Branch and Whitecliff came out during the siege while Doyle and Castillo escaped the flames April 19. Doyle remains hospitalized at Parkland Memorial Hospital in Dallas. The other four are in jail.