The Dallas Morning News
BYLINE:George Kuempel, Lee Hancock
Noted lawyer allowed into Davidians' compound for meeting DeGuerin won't comment on 2-hour talk, calls it `a very sensitive situation'
WACO -- A prominent Texas defense lawyer retained by David Koresh's mother spoke directly to someone inside the compound for more than two hours Monday. It marked the first time since the standoff began that a person not associated with law enforcement has met with a Branch Davidian.
Dick DeGuerin confirmed that he was the figure spied by television cameras sitting in a chair outside the compound, speaking to someone who remained behind a door a few feet away.
Mr. DeGuerin, from Houston, said he did not want discuss the meeting or characterize its importance in the negotiations to end the 30-day standoff. He would not say whether he is Mr. Koresh's lawyer or even whether he spoke with Mr. Koresh, the leader of the Branch Davidians.
"If you will please bear with me, this is a very sensitive situation,' he said.
Officials of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms declined to comment when asked about the visitor to the compound. But in their briefing Monday morning, federal authorities said they hoped to arrange their first direct meeting with Mr. Koresh. They previously held meetings with several of his lieutenants.
In the briefing, federal agents said Mr. Koresh has resumed talking with federal negotiators and has hinted that he may want to end standoff at his Mount Carmel compound, authorities said Monday.
"He was back into being a little more positive in ending this,' said Richard Swensen, special agent in charge of the FBI's New Orleans office. The Sunday conversation was the first time since Wednesday that Mr. Koresh has talked with negotiators.
Agent Swensen said Mr. Koresh and federal negotiators discussed the "mechanics of coming out of the compound' during a two-hour telephone conversation Sunday. Agent Swensen did not elaborate. during the daily briefing for reporters covering the standoff, which
About 4 p.m., television cameras showed Mr. DeGuerin riding a motorcyle into the compound and knocking on the door. A man came out, shook hands with Mr. DeGuerin and went back inside. He came out several minutes later with a chair.
Mr. DeGuerin took off his suit coat, sat down and appeared to be talking to someone inside the building. He sat there for more than two hours, then left.
By allowing Mr. DeGuerin into the compound, federal authorities have clearly shifted tactics. They have have said consistently that cult members are not entitled to legal counsel because they are not in custody.
Earlier this month federal prosecutors blocked Mr. DeGuerin's attempt to obtain a court order to see Mr. Koresh and persuaded a judge to seal their reasons.
Meanhwile, Agent Swensen said agents delivered several gallons of milk, some cheese, crackers and video batteries to the compound Sunday night. He said Mr. Koresh sent out a videotape made inside the compound of 16 children and two adults.
The children seemed "relatively healthy,' he said.
Mr. Koresh was steered away from biblical discussions by negotiators, but said once again that he is "waiting word from God' about ending the standoff, Agent Swensen said.
About 97 people are inside the Branch Davidian compound. Twenty-one children and 14 adults have left the compound since the Feb. 28 raid by the ATF that ended in a firefight in which four ATF agents and an undetermined number of cult members were killed.
Most of the adults who have left the compound are being detained in McLennan County Jail. One of them, Ofelia Santoyo, 62, was released Monday to a halfway house. Several others also have been released under similar conditions.
Mr. Koresh, who told negotiators that he had been wounded in the side and wrist in the Feb. 28 shootout with agents, still appears to be in some pain, Agent Swensen said.
"He was still doing the grimaces and sounds that would indicate that he was in pain when he moves,' he said.
At times, federal agents have said that Mr. Koresh is seriously hurt and other times suggested that his wounds are minor.
Negotiators also talked by phone Sunday to about a half a dozen of Mr. Koresh's followers, including a 3-year-old. They had five conversations with Steve Schneider, who has apparently become Mr. Koresh's second-in-command, they said.
None of those they spoke with said they wanted to leave the compound, the spokesmen said.
Federal authorities, who have taken a get-tough stance with Mr. Koresh in their recent briefings, were more conciliatory Monday.
Agent Swensen said Mr. Koresh had taken offense over federal agents' assertions that he was using the children in the compound "for his own benefit.'
"He denied that,' Agent Swensen said.