|Ron Cole has recently posted his account of this late 1994 incident to the Internet, so I thought it would only be fair to allow websurfers to see Amo Roden's side of the story. This is not intended to be an endorsement of her version, nor is my link to Ron Cole's version an endorsement of his.|
When Hood arrived I shooed two visitors out with a warning that there was going to be trouble. Then I stood against the back wall of the museum with the gun pointed at the doorway. First Hood looked in and retreated, then Cole. They called the sheriff. It was Sunday. The weekend sheriff's deputy was pretty laid back. "This little girl has been here on this property for months," he drawled, "she's got some rights here. Now I don't know what this is all about, but you need to get a court order. I don't want you to come back here and bother this little girl unless you got a court order."
The next day, Monday, Andrew Hood, Ron Cole, Wally Kennett, Catherine Matteson and a blonde girl I think was Greta Stephens came on the property and tore up the memorial. Perhaps someone had told them I wasn't trespassing so they couldn't have me arrested. They left the crosses on the fence but tore down the signs and flowers, and knocked the plates off the alter.
The day after was quiet, Koresh's followers came out with the press to talk about their plans to rebuild in the quarantine area.
Wednesday morning at 9 A.M. I opened my front door after I heard a noise in the yard. Andrew Hood was standing in the doorway of the museum. "We've come to change the lock," he yelled.
I didn't answer. It seemed later that a hand in the middle of my back shoved me. Without pause, I reached across the doorway to the shelf under the phone on my left and picked up the gun in my right hand, stepped out the door turning right onto the pallet walk that led to the yard. As I did, my arm came up and I fired one shot in the air in the direction of the ponds. By the time they had blinked I was in the yard at the end of the stage, about thirty feet from cover. I had one bad moment. "Do they have the guts to shoot a woman down in a pool of blood in her own yard?" I considered it for a moment just like they did. We came to the same answer, "No, they don't."
Andrew Hood spoke toward a van parked at the front stage steps. "Call the sheriff!" The van drove up the driveway and parked. Then Hood started calling me names apparently trying to draw my fire. Ron Cole stood in the yard with his hand resting on a holstered gun and after a while I discovered Wally Kennett standing flattened on the wall of the museum (just out of my view from the door of my house) with his gun in his hand pointed at the ground a few feet in front of me. I was the only one in the yard without a bullet proof vest and didn't know it. Despite Hood's insults I was quite content to wait for the sheriff. I knew they wouldn't shoot me and I wouldn't shoot them. After a while I got impatient and went back to my house to call the sheriff myself. Cole and Kennett got cold and went back to their car after Cole took some videotape of me standing in the yard with the gun in my hand.
The sheriff's deputies came into the yard shouting through a megaphone for everyone to lay their weapons down. I stood on mine and put my hands in the air. A deputy rapidly pushed me into the backseat of his car and locked me in. As he was pushing I told him that the men in the red car (Cole and Kennett) were armed. The box for collection of weapons was in the front seat of the car I was in, so I watched as several guns were confiscated from them. Stroup came over and I asked crossly, "When are you going to let me out?"
"We're taking you in," he answered.
"For what?" I demanded.
"How about armed assault?" he replied.
I was furious. "I didn't do it!"
"They say that they have you on videotape firing at them."
"I didn't do it!" I shouted as he turned away. Moments later, as they drove me through the gate, my driver rolled the windows up so that the media gathered at the front gate couldn't hear me yelling that I was framed.
Stroup came to watch me being booked. He looked sorry for me, maybe he'd seen the tape and knew I was innocent. I told something I'd discovered since I became a Branch Davidian. "A righteous man is a rebuke to the wicked, Stroup."
It was Thanksgiving the next day, so it took 72 hours for me to get bailed out. My parents in Florida paid. I went out of town for three days to rest, then returned to the compound. In my absence, the museum had been locked and the bottom part had been painted baby blue. The mural was only 60% covered. My office had been broken into and robbed of $40 from under the mattress; and my collection of fire tapes, $120.00 worth of pictures and my typewriter were missing. I borrowed $200 from my parents and started again. I put a small display about my current legal troubles outside my house.
God helped me almost at once. A man came to my door and asked if I was a Branch Davidian.
"Yes," I told him, "but I'm not part of Koresh's flock. I represent the Roden family that founded the church."
"But you are a Branch Davidian?"
He put a bunch of bills in my hand and walked off. When I looked there were 13 bills in all, 3 ones and 10 hundreds. I sat on the bed and prayed. "Oh God, please don't let him ask for the money back." A stray dog was left on the property that day. I kept her and named her Lucky. She never missed a meal.
That winter God told me to stop smoking pot and I did. I hadn't bought it for years, just accepted it when offered. Its not that its wrong, there is no law in the Bible about it. Its just that its unseemly for someone to works for God to either smoke or drink. Its more or less a Nazarite vow. If you would rather stay home and smoke pot than go to a mall and spend money, the New World Order might mind. I see nothing in the Bible that says God does. The Bible has no victimless crimes.
As it happened I would have help. A Houston specialist in criminal law, Charles Freeman, prepared some motions for me and advised me without requiring that he represent me. God bless him.
Later in January, two young men from Dallas stopped at my house to chat with me. As they left they joked about cutting the fence. I didn't pay much attention to them, but the next morning my friend, Andrew Ramirez found a hole from the top to the bottom of the fence by the back gate of the quarantine area. The best efforts of Ron Cole were to be insufficient to keep that hole patched.
I put a sign in my yard telling people how to find the hole. One morning God told me to bring the sign inside, so I did. A few minutes later two sheriff's cars roared into my yard and squealed to a stop. I walked up to the driver's door of the car Stroup was in. He said he had come to ask me some questions. It was cold, so I ignored the Texas Water Commission attorney, Larry Ferguson and the other deputies. I walked around and sat in the passenger seat of Stroup's car. He read me my rights and told me that I was a suspect in an investigation. Then he came to the key questions. "Do you know anything about the hole in the fence?"
I told him about the young men from Dallas and Andrew Ramirez finding the hole. I kept my eyes on the dashboard, waiting for the next question.
"Did you ever cut the fence?"
Well, I thought, he didn't ask me about the patch, he asked me about the fence. "No," I told him, "I never cut the fence." I held my breath but he was done. I had held a few things against Stroup, but in that moment I forgave him. Our relationship was eventually to relax enough for us to occasionally spend a few minutes quietly chatting.
The pre-trial hearing in my criminal case was Feb. 10, 1995. This time I took a seat at the council table. Looking around, I noticed that the press was well represented. Juanita Felden began another attempt to force me to take an attorney. When I refused they brought up my mental health record, just to make sure the press knew I had one. I called the courts attention to a motion for continuance I had filed. Judge Allen compared it to his criminal court rule book. He looked a little chagrined to find it error free. I had used the checklist in the same thick green paperback law book he had to prepare the motion. Failing to find an error to buttress his case that I was incompetent to represent myself, he simply denied the motion. I presented and argued the motions Charles Freeman prepared for me and one after another he denied them. Juanita Felden had a few tricks up her sleeve. She handed me and Judge Allen a request for a 10 point gag order. I pointed out that I had not seen the motion before and that I needed time to read it before I could answer it. Judge Allen recessed the court. The press was still well represented when court resumed. The gag order ie "The State's First Motion in Limine" forbid me to tell people that I was a Branch Davidian or that I lived at the compound. Judge Allen decided that I could tell the jury that after I pointed out that the alleged crime took place at the compound. He dismissed another request as too general and he granted the rest. I would have to clear any testimony or question about anything that happened at the compound after the start of the standoff on Feb. 28, 1993 with Judge Allen. I could not inquire into the criminal history of my accusers. If I obeyed this Judge Allen could gut my case. Juanita Felden was not done. She presented another motion to raise my bail and rearrest me. I pointed out to the court that I had never missed an arraignment. I pointed out that I needed my liberty to prepare my defense. The trial was scheduled to begin in 10 days. Then I offered to put up my farm. I had begun a filibuster when Judge Allen interrupted me with the news that he would deny Felden's motion. I walked out of the courtroom and gave interviews. I went home that night and discovered that I had good press. On Monday, Feb. 13, 1995, the case against me was dismissed. I was relieved, I planned to argue the case from the Bible but this was a sure thing. I would have presented I Kings 21:1-16 and Is. 5:7 on the attempts to steal the church which I had foiled and Micah 6:16 on the state of our courts.
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