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Weaver Jurors Watch Hearings Closely Some Members Of The Jury That Acquitted The White Separatist Say Justice May Be Near

When Jerry Anderton watched the televised Senate hearings on Ruby Ridge last week, vivid images came rushing back.

Though he was still in his cozy home with its crocheted tablecloth and landscape paintings, in his mind Anderton saw again the autopsy photos. A 14-year-old boy shot in the back. A mother killed.

“If I had it to do over again, Randy Weaver would’ve walked out of that courtroom that day,” said Anderton, 72.

He and the other jurors who acquitted Weaver and co-defendant Kevin Harris of murder and conspiracy charges in the summer of 1993 are watching the Senate hearings closely. Some said they think the hearings will finally bring justice.

“Three years we’ve been waiting for something to be done,” said Dorothy Mitchell, 47, a junior high school teacher from rural Hazelton. “Finally, maybe something is going to happen.”

“It’s not right for this country to do this kind of a deal,” said Frank Rost, 70, a retired construction engineer and farmer from Wendell. “We’ve got to play by the rules.”

The Weaver jury was deeply split, and some of the four or five who initially favored conviction are still reluctant to talk about the case.

“I’ve been a little tired of Weaver portrayed as a victim, and he was portrayed that way this morning when I was watching,” said juror Ruth Sigloh, 65, a retired legal secretary.

But Mary Fleenor, 54, said she’d give the same verdict today, even though she favored conviction when deliberations started. The jury found Weaver guilty only of failure to appear in court, throwing out all the more serious charges.

“We scrutinized it, and it was just not enough,” she said. “We went by the law.

“I know us jurors are really different in what we believe,” said Fleenor, a data entry worker who “did a lot of praying” during deliberations. “We disagree on so many points. But yet we came to the same verdict.”

Several jurors said the trial was an eye-opener that gave them a new and unpleasant view of their own government. “I came out of there just shaken on that,” said Dorothy Hoffman, 63, a Boise tutor. “I’ve always been a trusting person.

“The American people want to know the truth, and they want to regain their trust in their government,” Hoffman said. The hearings, she said, are “such a healthy thing they’re doing. It shows they’re not going to let these things go. It’s really renewed my faith in the system.”

Jack Weaver, 45, the jury foreman, said, “I’m glad they’re looking into it closer. It’s something that definitely bears some looking into.”

“Maybe I had on rose-colored glasses,” said Weaver, a computer operator at a commercial print shop who’s lived in Boise since the age of 4. “Fidelity, bravery and integrity - I bought all that stuff. I really believed it.”

Jack Weaver’s been reading about the FBI’s history since the trial, and has followed news reports about an alleged cover-up and destruction of documents in the Randy Weaver case.

“It looks like there’s been a lot of sneaky stuff going on,” he said. “Our law enforcement people have to be accountable for their actions. They have a long history of kind of doing their own thing and they don’t have to answer to anybody.”

“Nobody wants to take responsibility for their actions,” said Janet Schmierer, 50, a Hewlett-Packard employee. “I think this is what frustrates American people nationwide.”

The trial was rough on the jurors. Anderton’s big garden went wild in the months he was gone. Several jurors had health problems. One was eight months pregnant when the jury reached its verdict.

“I would go back to the motel at night and cry,” said Mitchell, the school teacher. “When you’re on a jury you can’t tell anybody, you can’t share what’s going on. You feel like a walking zombie. We would see these graphic pictures and have to come back in the jury room, be nice, talk about the weather.”

Jurors said they were shocked by the government’s handling of the case, from its modified “rules of engagement” that called for shooting armed adults at the Weaver cabin on sight, to the mishandling of evidence, such as a bullet that an agent picked up and moved before photographing.

“They’re supposed to be professional men. I’ve always looked up to ‘em,” said Rost.

“I still have respect for the government,” Mitchell said. “I just think there are a few bad apples that have spoiled the whole bushel, and I hope something gets done about it.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: 3 Color Photos

MEMO: IDAHO HEADLINE: Jurors reliving Weaver trial

This sidebar appeared with the story: Hearings continue The Senate hearings regarding Ruby Ridge resume Tuesday. Witnesses are expected to include Michael Johnson, former U.S. Marshal for the District of Idaho, and Henry Hudson, the former director of the U.S. Marshal Service.

IDAHO HEADLINE: Jurors reliving Weaver trial

This sidebar appeared with the story: Hearings continue The Senate hearings regarding Ruby Ridge resume Tuesday. Witnesses are expected to include Michael Johnson, former U.S. Marshal for the District of Idaho, and Henry Hudson, the former director of the U.S. Marshal Service.

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