Attorney for David Koresh during Waco standoff reflects on seige's 25th anniversary

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Friday, January 5, 2018
David Koresh's attorney still unconvinced cult leader wanted to die
Attorney Dick DeGuerin represented David Koresh (pictured), and remains critical of how the ATF conducted the raid in Waco.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Like most, Houston-based attorney Dick DeGuerin first heard of David Koresh through a newscast.

"I didn't know anything about the Branch Davidians until the afternoon of February 28, 1993," DeGuerin recalled.

That was the day federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives tried to serve warrants at their compound. Four ATF agents and six Branch Davidians died in the violent shootout.

A quarter century later, DeGuerin remains critical of how the ATF conducted the initial raid and how the Federal Bureau of Investigation chose to end the standoff.

"Some men lost their lives and they shouldn't have," said DeGuerin.

As for DeGuerin's involvement in the incident that rocked 1993, he was hired by Branch Davidian leader David Koresh's mother, Bonnie Haldeman.

"My job, as I saw it then --and I still see it, was to show that the Davidians were protecting themselves from excessive force," DeGuerin said.

THE SIEGE: Timeline of the Branch Davidian compound's fiery end

Houstonians were gripped back in 1993 by the siege on David Koresh's Branch Davidian compound in Waco, as seen on Eyewitness News.

He met with Koresh five times during the standoff and says though federal agents were worried Koresh and his group would kidnap DeGuerin, he believed it was Koresh who was most in danger.

"I said, 'It's good that you're not showing yourself at the window, because there's snipers out there and they could very easily take you out,'" DeGuerin recalled saying to Koresh.

At the time, DeGuerin described Koresh to reporters as 'bright, cheerful, very lucid' and today is still convinced Koresh would have surrendered had the FBI been more patient.

However, on day 51 of the standoff, the FBI launched tear gas into the compound and a fire later started, killing dozens of Branch Davidians, including many children.

"By the time I got there, it was over, burned to the ground," said DeGuerin.

Inside the Waco stand-off 25 years later

76 people died when the Branch Davidian compound near Waco burned to the ground

After the seige had ended, DeGuerin went to the jail to ask the survivors critical questions, but says he wasn't convinced Koresh had intended the incident to be a suicide.

"I don't believe Koresh or any of the others wanted to die," DeGuerin said.

During a recent trip back to the property, DeGuerin took a walk on the gravel road to what used to be the compound.

"My boots were crunching on the gravel but then they started crunching on a metallic sound, hundreds if not thousands of expended shells from the ATF," DeGuerin said of the property, so many years later. "The evidence was still there."

Though more than two decades have passed, DeGuerin says the incident is still worth talking about today.

"The more the public knows about how horrible what happened in Waco was, the better chance it's not going to happen again," he said.

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