HOUSTON -- Authorities were preparing to prosecute three members of a polygamist sect going on trial Monday charged with conspiracy to commit murders for hire in the slayings of three men and a child.
William Heber LeBaron, Douglas Lee Barlow and Patricia LeBaron will be tried in Houston federal court in the 1988 deaths of two Houston brothers and an Irving, Texas man. The three also are charged with conspiracy to tamper with a witness in the death of an 8-year-old girl.
The four people were fatally shot almost simultaneously at two Houston locations and in Irving.
A federal indictment alleges Mark Chynoweth and his brother Duane K. Chynoweth and Ed Marston were assassinated because they defected from the Church of the First Born of the Lamb of God -- a sect based loosely on doctrine from Utah's Mormon Church.
Jenny Chynoweth, the daughter of Duane Chynoweth, was fatally shot along with her father.
The Mexico-based sect, founded by the late Ervil LeBaron, ascribed to a doctrine of 'blond atonement.' This creed defined individuals who left the sect as 'sons of perdition' and required that they be killed before the Kingdom of God could come to Earth.
Authorities believe the sect has been responsible for more than 20 deaths.
William Heber LeBaron allegedly shot Mark Chynoweth, 36, at his Houston applicance repair store on June 27, 1988. Patricia LeBaron was allegedly with William Heber LeBaron and assisted him in arranging the slaying.
Richard LeBaron, 21, meanwhile has pleaded guilty to shooting and killing Duane Chynoweth, 31, and his daughter Jenny outside a vacant Houston house. The girl is believed to have been killed because she was a witness.
LeBaron has agreed to testify about other sect members.
About the time of the Houston slayings, Barlow allegedly shot Marston, 32, in Irving.
Aaron Morel LeBaron and Jacqueline LeBaron, who are named as defendants and accused of planning the murders, have not been arrested and are believed to be in Mexico.