The prosecution in the case of the Waco Twin Peaks Massacre may have suffered a little defeat yesterday in Abilene, 185 miles from the scene of last Spring’s crimes.
The possible defeat occurred during the trial of Bandido Motorcycle Club member Curtis Jack Lewis. At the least, McLennan County Criminal District Attorney Abelino “Abel” Reyna showed his hand.
Law Of Parties
Many observers of the case, including some of the defense lawyers, have appeared to be genuinely baffled by the arrests and indictments of so many obviously innocent people for murder and assault during the aftermath of the most deadly biker brawl in history. Men and women who ran away from the confrontation between members of the Cossacks, Bandidos and other motorcycle clubs were charged with “engaging in organized criminal activity with the underlying offense being aggravated assault and murder.”
The charges have seemed far-fetched to most of the world but they weren’t far-fetched to Reyna who has intended all along to convict everybody under Texas’ so called “law of parties.” Waco has always been a conspiracy case.
The law of parties, which is contained in Section 7.02 of the Texas Penal Code, declares that: “A person is criminally responsible for an offense committed by the conduct of another if…acting with intent to promote or assist the commission of the offense, he solicits, encourages, directs, aids, or attempts to aid the other person to commit the offense; or having a legal duty to prevent commission of the offense and acting with intent to promote or assist its commission, he fails to make a reasonable effort to prevent commission of the offense. If, in the attempt to carry out a conspiracy to commit one felony, another felony is committed by one of the conspirators, all conspirators are guilty of the felony actually committed, though having no intent to commit it, if the offense was committed in furtherance of the unlawful purpose and was one that should have been anticipated as a result of the carrying out of the conspiracy.”
Yes, the law is a mouthful. Its broadness and opacity make it virtually headline proof. But it is the law in Texas. About 80 people are now on death row in the Lone Star State because they were convicted of murder under the law of parties. Given the progress of the Twin Peaks case so far, it seems very plausible that some defendants may be convicted of murder because they were carrying deadly weapons in anticipation of a deadly conflict. Or, if they were unarmed, they might be convicted because they should have known that weapons carried by their companions were likely to lead to a deadly conflict. Or they might be convicted because they knew that a potentially murderous conflict was simmering between the Cossacks and the Bandidos and they still chose to ride with the Scimitars or they wore a shirt that declared their intention to “support the Fat Mexican.”
In Abilene, Lewis is on trial for aggravated assault charges stemming from a brawl between Bandidos and Cossacks in the parking lot of the Logan’s Roadhouse restaurant there on November 2, 2013. Lewis faced two counts of aggravated assault, In Count One, he was charged with actually stabbing a Cossack named Timothy Shane Satterwhite. Satterwhite testified against Lewis Monday. Lewis was also charged with a second count, under the law of parties, of stabbing Cossack Edward Corley.
Satterwhite was arrested at the Twin Peaks last May 17. According to official documents, Edward Corley’s “black 2007 Dodge Ram…was also found in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks Restaurant in Waco on May 17, 2015. A witness to the stabbing at the Logan’s Roadhouse Restaurant, Michael Don Baxley…was also identified as a Cossack and arrested for Engaging In Organized Criminal Activity at the Twin Peaks Restaurant in Waco on May 17, 2015.”
Two McLennan County Assistant Criminal District Attorneys have been attending the Lewis trial in Abilene to confer and cooperate with prosecutors there.
Yesterday, Taylor County Assistant District Attorney James Hicks presented the state’s case that Lewis was guilty of stabbing Corley under the law of parties. According to a usually informed source, “The state’s theory on count two was that because Lewis was president and everyone followed his order to leave, that it could be reasonably inferred that he ordered the stabbing.” The source believes this is “similar to the state’s theory in the Twin Peaks case.”
At the end of the day, defense attorney Jon Hanna asked Judge John Weeks to order a directed verdict of not guilty. Hanna argued “that the state had failed to present any evidence of Lewis actually directing or encouraging the stabbing.” The judge agreed with the defense and Lewis has now been acquitted of stabbing Corley.
What lessons the visiting prosecutors from McLennan County have now learned and the ramifications of those lessons for the Twin Peaks defendants remains to be seen.
Today the prosecution began presenting its case that Lewis actually stabbed Satterwhite.