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Branch Davidian Who Testified Against Cult Is Sentenced to 3 Years

July 09, 1994|From Associated Press

WACO, Tex. — The lone Branch Davidian to strike a plea bargain in the shooting deaths of four federal agents was sentenced Friday to three years in prison on a reduced charge.

Kathryn Schroeder's testimony was a key in convicting eight of her fellow cult members, a prosecutor said. She was the last member of David Koresh's cult to be sentenced in a gun battle that erupted during a raid on Feb. 28, 1993.

In addition to the four agents, six Branch Davidians died. Schroeder's husband was among them.

"I want to say I know a lot of people have suffered. I really am sorry for that. I don't think it should ever have happened," Schroeder told U.S. District Judge Walter S. Smith before sentencing.

Smith sentenced Schroeder, 31, to three years in prison, three years of probation and fined her $5,000. The charge against Schroeder--resisting arrest--was reduced from first-degree murder. She could have been sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in prison on the resisting arrest charge.

Schroeder testified about the cult's plan to wage a holy war with authorities, detailed where cult members stood armed during the standoff and described their weapons.

"It was the best inside story that we could provide the jury," Assistant U.S. Atty. Bill Johnston said.

After the shootout, Schroeder handed out weapons and ammunition. She left the sect's compound just outside Waco on March 12 to be with her children, who had been released to authorities earlier in the 51-day standoff that followed the botched raid.

The impasse ended April 19, 1993, when a fire destroyed the cult's compound. Koresh and about 80 followers died during the blaze, which prosecutors said was set by the sect as federal officials tried to tear holes in the compound.

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