Attempted murder charges were dismissed Friday against the leader of a religious group in a November 1987 shootout with self-proclaimed messiah George Roden.

During a pretrial hearing Friday morning in Waco’s 54th State District Court, McLennan County District Attorney Paul Gartner told Judge George Allen that he was contemplating dismissing the attempted murder charge against Vernon Wayne Howell, 28. Gartner decided later in the day to dismiss the third-degree felony charge.

Howell, the leader of the Branch Davidians Seventh-day Adventists group that lives on a farm northwest of Waco, was among eight Branch Davidians charged with attempted murder in the incident.

All but Howell were acquitted in April after a week-long trial in Waco. Jurors could not reach a verdict concerning Howell, forcing Allen to declare a mistrial in his case.

Read the Tribune-Herald's 7-part investigative series on the inner workings of the Branch Davidians. Hours after Part 2 appeared in print, the ATF raided the group's compound.

Read the Tribune-Herald’s account of the ATF raid on the Branch Davidian compound on Feb. 28, 1993. Four ATF agents and six in the compound were killed in the gunfight.

Read the daily news accounts of the 51-day siege at the Branch Davidian compound near Elk, which began Feb. 28 and lasted until April.

April 19 and beyond: FBI agents began inserting canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound in the early morning hours. By noon, it was on fire.

Federal officials left the compound site in late May 1993. As identifications of bodies continued, questions about the survivors, the compound and the cult itself began to emerge.

As the world began to take a critical look back at the events and legal proceedings continue, the ATF's bombshell report forces a shakeup at the top after the raid gone "tragically wrong."

In 1994, the surviving Davidians went on trial in San Antonio. Over six weeks, more than 140 witnesses testified, with the verdict coming just two days prior to the anniversary of the ATF raid.

The Rodenville shootout and the 1988 trial, the end of the world in 1959 and more stories from deep in the Trib archives.