Feds dispute court's role in preservation of Mount Carmel evidence

The Waco Tribune Herald, May 3, 2000
By Mark England

The federal government filed a motion Wednesday asking that those seeking to impound evidence in the wake of an infrared expert's death be required to follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

Plaintiffs in the wrongful-death lawsuit filed by surviving Branch Davidians against the government asked U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith Jr. on Monday to order the seizure of evidence related to Carlos Ghigliotti's analysis of the infrared tape taken at Mount Carmel on April 19, 1993. That tape captured the fire that led to the deaths of David Koresh and 75 followers.

Ghigliotti reported last year that gunshots are visible on the infrared tape. He had been employed by the House Committee on Government Reform. However, a committee source said he was dismissed.

Justice Department attorney Marie Hagen's motion stated that the government welcomed "reasonable attempts" to preserve evidence. However, Hagen argued that the plaintiffs have presented no legal grounds authorizing the court to intervene.

The government said the heirs of Ghigliotti's estate, as well as the Laurel (Md.) Police Department, which is investigating Ghigliotti's death, should be heard with respect to their interest in the materials that plaintiffs seek to preserve.

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