Two of the Waco defendants were arraigned before district court judge Ralph Strother yesterday. Six additional defendants waived arraignment before the kangaroo court.
The two arraigned men were Cody Keith “Criddick” Ledbetter and Clifford Lee Pearce. Both their lives have already been turned tragic by the massacre at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco last May 17.
Ledbetter, a Cossack, was wounded during a prearranged affray that was encouraged and possibly engineered by local, state and federal police. His father, Cossack Daniel Raymond “Diesel” Boyette was killed during the affray.
Boyette was a road captain with his chapter. The week after his death, his brother William Boyette told Ginger Adams Otis of the New York Daily News, “A year and a half ago, the man didn’t even know how to ride a motorcycle.” Daniel Boyette bought Ledbetter a motorcycle and invited him to join the Cossacks so the two could spend more time together.
Ledbetter was arrested at Hillcrest hospital where he was treated for a gunshot wound. He was Mirandized and agreed to speak to police. He denied shooting anyone and told police he had carried no weapons to the event. He claimed that the affray started when “one of the Bandidos or one of their supporters hit one of the Cossacks prospects with their motorcycle.”
The prospect was Pearce who has been widely gossiped about in the last six months, particularly in Houston – where his name is sometimes spelled Pierce. On November 3, an attorney named James C. Winton filed a sworn statement in which he alleged “Pierce was not arrested and has simply vanished into thin air – his apartment cleaned out and never seen again. Was this gentleman who was so close to the spark, perhaps even the spark himself, an undercover police officer? Was he a confidential informant? Is he now in a witness protection program? No one knows.”
Dane Schiller, who is currently “a senior reporter on the Houston Chronicle’s investigative, projects and enterprise team” and who published a long interview with Ledbetter on June 20 has repeatedly – and as recently as this morning – referred to Pearce as the case’s “mystery man.”
“Pearce’s situation had been curious,” Schiller wrote today, “as he is one of the few persons authorities had identified as having been at the flashpoint of the clash, but he was not charged with a crime until the recent batch of indictments were unsealed.”
Or Maybe Not
Pearce was shot in the shoulder by an unspecified round that travelled at a downward angel. The round carried enough kinetic force that it penetrated half his torso, fractured his Fourth Thoracic Vertebra and immediately paralyzed him from the waist down. He has about a 50 percent chance of eventually regaining his mobility.
Pearce prospected the Cossacks because he wanted to join a motorcycle club and the Cossacks was his only choice. He and some friends tried to form a club in Waco called the Death Riders. Since the Cossacks considered themselves to be the preeminent club in McLennan County, the Death Riders asked their permission to ride. The “Cossacks said they were not going to let them form a club” but they could prospect the Cossacks individually. So he prospected the Cossacks.
In a tape recorded, voluntary interview with police, Pearce denied fighting with any Bandidos, denied being armed in any way, and denied being struck by any motorcycle. He said he was walking between motorcycles when Cossack Nomad Owen Reeves began “scuffling” with Bandidos. He said after he heard the shot he “hit the dirt.” The first shot was followed by “a bunch of gunshots,” which was when he was wounded.
And now his long ordeal continues.