Key Players in the Waco Trial

The Associated Press, July 14, 2000

Here are some of the major players in the wrongful death case against the government brought by Branch Davidian survivors and family members of those killed in the 1993 siege:

U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith: Presiding over the trial. Smith decided an advisory jury would hear the case, even though one is not required by law. He has indicated he will issue his final ruling later, possibly next month. Smith in 1994 also presided over a criminal trial in which the jury acquitted 11 Davidians of conspiring to murder federal agents and found five guilty of voluntary manslaughter. Three defendants were acquitted of all charges, and three were convicted of weapons charges.

Michael Bradford: U.S. attorney for western Texas and lead counsel for the government defense team. He was named special assistant to Attorney General Janet Reno on the Davidian civil case last fall.

Michael Caddell: Lead plaintiffs' attorney. The Houston lawyer represents about 50 estates of those who died as well as some survivors. Other plaintiffs' attorneys include James Brannon, lawyer for the estates of three children of David Koresh, and former U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark, who represents estates of Davidians who died and several survivors.

Attorney General Janet Reno: Approved the tear-gassing plan for the final day. She has testified before Congress on the events surrounding the siege and maintains agents acted within their discretion. Reno named former Republican Sen. John Danforth special counsel last year to look into whether federal agents started the deadly fire and later tried to cover their actions.

David Koresh: Leader of the apocalyptic cult who died during the siege's fiery end. The siege started on Feb. 28, 1993, when Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agents tried to search the compound and arrest Koresh on weapons violations. Koresh, a self-proclaimed Christ figure, was born Vernon Wayne Howell. He took full control of the Branch Davidians in 1988. He considered himself "spiritually" married to all the Davidians, had sex with many of the female members and fathered several children. The Davidians, who considered themselves an offshoot of the Seventh-Day Adventists, had repeatedly predicted the end of the world from Waco, where they had lived since 1935.

Michael McNulty: Principal researcher and a producer of two documentary films dealing with the standoff. The latest, "Waco: A New Revelation," alleges that as flames raced through the Branch Davidian compound, federal agents' automatic gunfire pinned down cult members, cutting off their only route of escape. McNulty, of Fort Collins, Colo., also discovered a potentially incendiary tear gas canister amid thousands of pounds of evidence held in storage lockers. That discovery led FBI and Justice Department officials to recant their long-standing contention that only nonincendiary tear gas was used.

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