FindLaw Investigations - Waco
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 FindLaw Commentary
by Solomon L. Wisenberg of Solomon L. Wisenberg, PLLC L.L.P.

  • The Advisory Verdict
  • Waco Civil Trial Preview
  • The Curious Order of Judge Smith
  • Bill Johnston Resigns Amid Waco's Unanswered Questions
  • The Very Unusual Letter of Bill Johnston
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     Waco News Page 2 of 4 Page [1] [2] [3] [4
  • Koresh drilled women, told them to commit suicide in battle, witnesses say  (The Post-Dispatch 7/07/00) David Koresh taught women to fire weapons, drilled them for war, instructed them to commit suicide in battle and took 15 women and girls as his wives, witnesses testified Thursday. In the end, the bodies of these women and children were found on top of rifles in a bunker with hundreds of guns and thousands of rounds of ammunition.
  • Ranger: Fuel cans found in Davidian ruins  (Dallas Morning News 7/07/00) Four fuel cans were recovered from what had been the dining area of the Branch Davidian complex after fire consumed the building, a Texas Ranger testified Friday.
  • U.S. lawyers detail sect's Waco arsenal  (Dallas Morning News 7/07/00) Government lawyers Thursday began wrapping up their defense of federal actions in the gunfight that sparked the Branch Davidian siege, meticulously detailing the sect's firepower and its absolute devotion to self-proclaimed messiah David Koresh.
  • Ranger: 300 guns found in Koresh' s compound  (Dallas Morning News 7/06/00) About 300 weapons, including dozens of machine guns, were found in the charred remains of the Branch Davidian compound hours after it burned to the ground, a Texas Ranger testified Thursday.
  • Witness details Koresh's militancy  (Dallas Morning News 7/06/00) David Koresh grew "militant" just before his sect's bloody standoff with the government, ordering followers to make grenades, silencers and machine guns and predicting a shootout with authorities, a former Branch Davidian testified Wednesday.
  • In Waco suit, government focuses on killing of ATF agents  (Post-Dispatch 7/05/00) Like a general attacking the weakest part of the enemy line, government lawyers are attacking the weakest link in the Branch Davidians' wrongful death lawsuit.
  • Ex-agents recount Davidian shootout  (Dallas Morning News 7/01/00) Retired federal agent Robert White testified Friday that he and other agents wrote their blood types on their necks and begged in vain for more assault rifles because of "worst-case" concerns before the raid that sparked the Branch Davidian siege.
  • Federal agent testifies he didn't have time to draw gun at Waco gunbattle  (Post-Dispatch 6/30/00) As he lay on the roof of the Branch Davidians' complex bleeding from four bullet wounds, Treasury agent Ken King heard what sounded like rain falling nearby.
  • Ex-TV reporter testifies on Waco gunbattle  (Dallas Morning News 6/30/2000) A former television news reporter who saw most of the gunbattle between Branch Davidians and federal agents during a failed raid Feb. 28, 1993, testified Friday that the shooting erupted as soon as he arrived.
  • Agents describe hail of bullets at beginning of siege - Government witnesses defend actions  (Dallas Morning News 6/30/2000) The gunbattle that began the 1993 Branch Davidian siege started with a distant pop of gunshots, followed by an explosion of bullets through the front door of the sect's compound, one federal agent testified Thursday.
  • Koresh follower weeps on stand recounting his escape and daughter's death  (The Post-Dispatch 6/29/00) A Branch Davidian survivor broke down crying on the witness stand Wednesday when questioned about a fire that he managed to escape while his daughter died. "I live with this everyday," said a tearful Clive Doyle after explaining how he and eight others escaped the flames that destroyed the sect's complex while his daughter, Shari Doyle, died.
  • Treasury agent recounts opening gunfight at Waco with Branch Davidians  (The Post-Dispatch 6/29/00) A Treasury agent testified Thursday that gunfire exploded from behind the closed front doors of the Branch Davidians' complex as he approached to serve search and arrest warrants in 1993. Kris Mayfield of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms said he dove for cover behind a compressor as bullets came through the doors and the wall beside it.
  • Click here: dallasnews.com: Waco Re-examined  (Dallas Morning News 6/29/00) Branch Davidian Clive Doyle acknowledged Wednesday that sect members considered David Koresh as God incarnate, but he denied repeatedly that they fired the first shots in a deadly standoff with the government or torched their compound to end it.
  • Judge refuses to dismiss Davidian case  (Dallas Morning News 6/29/2000) A federal judge on Thursday refused to dismiss wrongful-death claims by Branch Davidian survivors and family members. Government attorneys argued that the plaintiffs, who wrapped up their case against the government at midmorning, had failed to prove their claims. U.S. District Judge Walter Smith denied the motion without comment and instructed the government to begin its defense.
  • Davidian testifies he played no role in fire   (Dallas Morning News 6/29/2000) Branch Davidian Clive Doyle acknowledged Wednesday that sect members considered David Koresh as God incarnate, but he denied repeatedly that they fired the first shots in a deadly standoff with the government or torched their compound to end it.
  • Rubble blocked exit, Waco survivor testifies  (The Post-Dispatch 6/28/00) A Branch Davidian survivor testified Tuesday that damage caused by FBI tanks blocked an exit from the sect's complex when it caught fire. But the survivor, Misty Dawn Ferguson, said she was able to get out of the burning complex by jumping through a hole in a wall that a tank had created.
  • Waco survivor says tank damage hampered escape - She shows disfiguring burns at wrongful-death trial   (Dallas Morning News 6/28/2000) The youngest survivor of the Branch Davidian fire told jurors in a federal wrongful-death lawsuit Tuesday that extensive tank damage on the final day of the 1993 siege buckled upper floors, blocked stairways and nearly cut off her escape from the burning building. "I tried to get out the hallway, but I couldn't go that way. . . . That was the only way out," testified 24-year-old Misty Ferguson, describing her final minutes in the smoke-filled, damaged building. "I didn't want to be burned."
  • Memo : Branch Davidians Would Fight  (AP 6/27/2000) The federal agent who ordered the use of tanks to fire tear gas into the Branch Davidian compound was warned that sect members would "fight back to the death" if confronted, lawyers argued in a wrongful death lawsuit against the government. The attorneys on Monday presented what they called "the best piece of evidence from the government" - a March 1993 memo from FBI criminal profilers Peter Smerick and Mark Young to on-scene commander Jeffery Jamar.
  • Ex -Davidian Recalls Complex Fire  (AP 6/27/2000) A survivor of the final day of the government's siege on the Branch Davidian compound recalled her hands were on fire as she leaped from the second floor of the complex that was engulfed in smoke and flames. "There was a hole there in the front side of the building and I jumped from the building there," Misty Ferguson testified Tuesday in a wrongful death trial against the federal government.
  • Witness: Koresh didn't call FBI 'the Beast'  (Dallas Morning News 6/27/2000) A former Branch Davidian whose pregnant daughter died in the fire that ended the sect's 51-day standoff with federal agents testified that leader David Koresh never labeled the agents enemies. In a deposition read to jurors Tuesday, Oliver Gyarfas said his daughter, Aisha, who was 17 when she died, was one of several women living at the compound who was married to Koresh.
  • Investiga tor for sect faults fire inquiry - Government missed potential ignition sources, he testifies  (Dallas Morning News 6/27/2000) Federal assertions that the Branch Davidian fire was arson are unacceptable because they sprang from an "incompetent" investigation that missed many potential fuel and ignition sources for the 1993 blaze, a fire investigator for the sect testified Monday.
  • Jurors hear testimony from survivor of blaze at Davidians' compound  (The Post-Dispatch 6/27/00) "I heard screams. I could hear crying. People were praying." With those words, Marjorie Thomas, a fire-scarred survivor of the government siege at Waco, described the last moments of the Branch Davidians as flames engulfed their complex in 1993.
  • Davidian survivor recalls fire, chaos   (Dallas Morning News 6/26/2000) A survivor of the government's raid on the Branch Davidian complex testified Monday about a chaotic scene as fire enveloped the compound. "I could hear rushing, screaming, crying, people praying,'' Marjorie Thomas said. "You could hear the flames really roaring, things popping. It was noisy.''
  • Trial takes its toll on survivors - Davidian testimony unlocks painful past  (Dallas Morning News 6/26/2000) Day after day, Branch Davidian Sheila Martin sat quietly in the back of a federal courtroom last week, reliving the tragic events that brought her here. It was the beginning of the long-awaited trial in the sect's wrongful-death lawsuit. She has been joined in court by other Branch Davidians and relatives of the dead, some who say they came for truth and justice.
  • Fire Expert Testifies at Waco Trial (AP - 6/26/2000) Tanks smashing holes into the Branch Davidian complex contributed to the fire that engulfed the compound, a fire expert testified Monday in the wrongful death lawsuit against the government.
  • Provision in federal law may protect U.S. agents in Waco case  (The Post-Dispatch 6/26/00) If the trial of the Branch Davidians' wrongful death suit were a high stakes poker game, government defense lawyers would have the benefit of a wild card in their hand. The wild card is a provision in federal law that bars courts from considering damage claims against federal officers for carrying out discretionary decisions, even if those decisions turn out to be wrong.
  • Second Week of Waco Trial (AP - 6/26/2000) As flames raced through the Branch Davidians' wooden complex on the final day of the sect's 51-day standoff with the government, nine people found escape routes and survived.
  • FBI told Reno to "butt out" at Waco after she OK'd tank operation, she says  (The Post-Dispatch 6/24/00) Attorney General Janet Reno said the FBI told her to "butt out" of Waco operations once she gave approval to a tank-and-tear-gas operation to force Branch Davidians out of their complex on April 19, 1993. In notes of an interview with Reno, conducted four months after the siege ended, Reno said that since she was not on the scene, operational control of Waco events rested with FBI commanders.
  • FBI tanks' movement at issue - Official: Demolition planned later  (Dallas Morning News 6/24/2000) The FBI's deputy tactical commander conceded Friday that the Washington-approved plan for ending the Branch Davidian siege didn't call for sending tanks in to begin demolishing the sect's embattled compound until it had been tear-gassed for 48 hours.
  • Waco siege testimony focuses on tear gas  (Dallas Morning News 6/23/2000) A tank-riding grenadier with the FBI testified Friday that he launched as many as 80 canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian complex but could not recall shooting any potentially flammable devices on the final day of the Waco siege.
  • Sect could have been coaxed out, FBI figure told officials - Reno said agency leaders wanted her to 'butt out'  (Dallas Morning News 6/23/2000) FBI tactical commander Richard Rogers told investigators soon after the 1993 Branch Davidian siege that negotiators could have coaxed sect members from their barricaded compound if given enough time, according to documents obtained by The Dallas Morning News.
  • Ex-FBI official testifies - He says assault went beyond plan  (Dallas Morning News 6/23/2000) FBI commanders went beyond a Washington-approved plan for tear-gassing the Branch Davidian compound when they ordered tanks to drive deep into the building on April 19, 1993, at Mount Carmel, a former senior FBI official testified Thursday.
  • FBI Agent Recalls Tear Gas in Waco (AP - 6/23/2000) A tank-riding FBI agent testified Friday he launched as many as 80 canisters of tear gas into the Branch Davidian complex but could not recall shooting any potentially flammable devices on the final day of the Waco siege.
  • Branch Davidian Trial Continues (AP - 6/23/2000) Survivors and family members of Branch Davidians who died in the 1993 Waco siege say federal agents sparked a fire that destroyed the sect's compound after they fired tear gas inside.
  • Key issue at Waco trial: Were federal agents negligent? (Christian Science Monitor 6/22/2000) It took but a few moments in April 1993 for a fire at the Branch Davidian residence to spread into a blazing deathtrap for nearly 80 men, women, and children inside. But it has taken more than seven years for a multimillion-dollar wrongful-death suit to begin in a federal courtroom.
  • Waco Plaintiffs Wrap Up Testimony (AP - 6/22/2000) After audiotapes revealed the panic on both sides of the 1993 federal raid on the Branch Davidian compound, attention has shifted to the final, fiery day of the 51-day siege.
  • Jurors hear 911 tape of Waco fight - Attorney who sought Koresh's surrender also takes stand at trial  (Dallas Morning News 6/22/2000) Jurors in the Branch Davidian wrongful-death lawsuit heard a 911 tape Wednesday of the chaotic firefight that began a 1993 standoff with federal authorities, a recording that began with a sect member screaming for federal agents to "back off" and the din of heavy gunfire.
  • Top FBI officials were stunned to see tanks ram Waco complex, they testify  (The Post-Dispatch 6/22/00) Top FBI officials were surprised to see converted tanks plowing deep into the Branch Davidians' complex on the last day of the government's siege in 1993, according to testimony Thursday in federal court in Waco. Deputy Assistant FBI Director Danny Coulson was watching a television monitor at agency headquarters in Washington as tanks pumped tear gas into the complex. Sitting beside him was his immediate subordinate, Michael Kahoe. When one of the tanks rammed into the front of the complex, Kahoe said, "Holy (expletive)!"
  • Jury Hears 911 Tape in Davidian Case (AP - 6/21/2000) The panic and terror within the walls of the Branch Davidian complex was relived Wednesday as the audiotaped drama of the first moments of the government's 1993 raid was played in the cult's multimillion-dollar wrongful death trial.
  • Branch Davidian raid heard on 911 tape  (Dallas Morning News 6/21/2000) Jurors in the Branch Davidian wrongful-death lawsuit heard a dramatic 911 recording Wednesday of the chaotic firefight that began a 1993 standoff with federal authorities, a recording that began with a sect member screaming for federal agents to "back off'' amid the din of heavy gunfire.
  • Federal judge in Waco suit bars evidence that FBI negotiators warned against using tanks  (The Post-Dispatch 6/21/00) A federal judge ruled Tuesday that FBI negotiators' warnings to their commanders against using tanks against Branch Davidians could not be brought up during the sect's wrongful death lawsuit in Waco.
  • Lawyers debate who's at fault in Waco case - Children, Koresh in spotlight as testimony opens  (Dallas Morning News 6/21/2000) Testimony in the Branch Davidian wrongful-death lawsuit opened Tuesday with plaintiffs' attorneys displaying pictures of children killed in the 1993 tragedy and government lawyerscountering that the carnage was caused by the sect and its apocalyptic leader.
  • Govt. in spotlight at Waco Trial (AP - 6/20/2000) Seven years ago, during the long government standoff with the Branch Davidians, an FBI criminal profiler warned the on-scene commander about using force to end the siege.
  • Dav idian Lawyer Shows Video of Kids (AP - 6/20/2000) Punctuating his statements with video of the children killed at the Branch Davidian compound, an attorney opened his case Tuesday in a wrongful death lawsuit against the federal government.
  • Davidian witness says raid was surprise  (Dallas Morning News 6/20/2000) The first witness in the wrongful-death lawsuit brought by Branch Davidian survivors and family members testified today that she was unaware of any plans by sect members to ambush federal agents as they tried to serve a search warrant Feb. 28, 1993.
  • Jury to hear start of Waco case today- Government, sect lawyers spar over admissibility of key evidence   (Dallas Morning News 6/20/2000) A jury of four women and three men will begin hearing the Branch Davidian wrongful-death case Tuesday, a day after fierce clashes over the admissibility of key evidence detailing the actions of FBI commanders and sect members during the 1993 siege.
  • Excerpts of disputed transcripts   (Dallas Morning News 6/20/2000) Here are excerpts from eight disputed transcripts prepared by a government expert from recorded transmissions of FBI bugs in the Branch Davidian compound.
  • Branch Davidians' case may hinge on judge's ruling  (The Post-Dispatch 6/20/00) A federal judge will make a key ruling today that could make or break the Branch Davidians' wrongful death case against the government for its handling of the siege at Waco in 1993. U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr. must decide whether the seven jurors who were selected Monday can hear about warnings by FBI negotiators that the use of tanks could bring on trouble from the Davidians.
  • Waco Wrongful Death Trial to Begin (AP - 6/19/2000) A six-member jury was chosen Monday to hear a wrongful death lawsuit brought by survivors and family members of those killed in the government's 1993 raid on the Branch Davidian compound.
  • Fair trial predicted in Waco - But some say bias against Davidians will influence jury  (Dallas Morning News 6/19/2000) Sitting in his pickup on a rural road near the Branch Davidian site, J.D. Middleton says he'd hate to be on the jury deciding whether the government was at fault for the tragedy that left more than 80 sect members dead. "I wouldn't know which way to go," he said, calling the followers "addicts of religion." "There were errors made on both sides," he said.

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     Documents
  • Bill Johnston letter and statement
  • Text of letter from special counsel's office to Michael Kennedy
  • The Tragedy of Waco: New Evidence Examined
  • Special Counsel John Danforth's Report
  • Order of Judge Smith
  • House Committee on Government Reform Investigation
  • FBI Press Releases
  • Justice Department Evaluation of the Handling of the Branch Davidian Stand-off in Waco, Texas: Adobe Acrobat PDF File (13MB)
  • Justice Department Report to the Deputy Attorney General on the Events at Waco, Texas: Adobe Acrobat PDF File (101MB)
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     Related Sites
  • Waco Re-examined (Dallas Morning News) Provides a comprehensive archive of articles related to the Branch Davidian siege and the latest news.
  • Waco: What Really Happened? (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
  • Waco News file (Time Magazine)
  • The Waco Investigation (Washington Post)
  • Waco Investigation Full Coverage (Yahoo!)
  • Waco NewsMax.com Hot Topics
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