At this point the Twin Peaks case in Waco has become a buffalo on the barbecue. A big buffalo.
It is not possible to cover all the news in the case this week. It is more reasonable to give readers some indication of the broad strokes and big shapes of what is going on.
Saw the buffalo into quarters and call the big pieces: The criminal cases; the federal civil rights cases; the liability cases; and the sudden renewal of interest in the case by the Texas and national press.
Numerous major news outlets, including the Los Angeles Times, the Austin American-Statesman, the Houston Chronicle and CNN. have turned their attention to Waco this week
Today the New York Times published a 1,500 word human interest piece titled “One Year After Shootout, Waco’s Bikers Struggle to Move On.” You can read the Times story here.
The New York Times piece includes some half-assed errors. For example, it identifies “Cody K. Ledbetter, 27, (as) a member of the Cossacks who was arrested and who watched as Mr. (Daniel) Boyett, his stepfather, was executed by a biker.” That’s a pretty big and inflammatory goof for the holiest of America’s national newspapers. Boyett was shot in the head twice by police and Ledbetter told investigators he had been separated from his father and did not see him die.
But facts have always been like pennies in this case. Nobody has shown much interest in picking them up and looking at them. Waco is a big, sexy, biker case and the big, sexy, news outlets think readers and viewers still want to read and see more. And that’s not good for the Waco prosecutors who have been in their safe space since about last June. It is only a matter of time before somebody starts picking up pennies. Maybe as soon as this week.
The New York Times calls attention to a defendant named Diego N. Obledo. Obledo was charged with organized criminal conspiracy, spent more than two weeks in jail, lost an $80,000 per year job, lost a chance at a house and had his life ruined because he was wearing a Bandidos tee shirt he had bought, the Times reports, “the day before at an auto-parts store.”
Last Friday, Obledo became the seventh defendant in the case to file a federal civil rights lawsuit against Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman, Waco detective Manuel Chavez and McLennan County District Attorney Abelino Reyna for false arrest.
According to Obledo’s attorney, Don Tittle, Obledo was a hang around with the Valerosos Motorcycle Club last May. He wasn’t carrying a gun but according to Tittle, he “was carrying a pocket version of the New Testament which apparently was enough for Reyna, Stroman and Chavez to decide that he was up to no good that day. Diego is a father of six.”
Tittle said, “Over the next few months I will be filing many more of these cases on behalf of bikers arrested at Twin Peaks. Right now, a number of those who badly want to file suit are still fearing retaliation but that is slowly subsiding with each passing day.”
All the civil rights suits are currently being litigated in Austin. Reyna, Stroman and Chavez have filed motions to have the suits dismissed, or moved to Reyna-friendly Waco so they can be tried there, or delayed until after all the criminal trials in the case have been held. The way the case has been going, most of the defendants will die of natural causes before justice “Waco Style” allows them the chance to clear their good names.
Criminal And Liability Cases
The criminal defendants remain in limbo. One-hundred-fifty seven men have been indicted. Thirty-eight of the original indictees have not yet been indicted but Waco officials seem to be searching for ways to pin a big charge on all of them. Antecedent probability also suggests people yet to be named or previously associated with the case may find up looking at life in prison for murder.
The civil liability cases filed against the Waco Twin Peaks franchise have become a hornet’s nest. Police spokesman W. Patrick Swanton and other Waco officials went out of their way vilify the restaurant, its owners and managers after the gun battle in the parking lot. The Twin Peaks has responded that “the Texas Department of Public Safety, Waco Police Department, and other law enforcement agencies who were actively involved in the incident” encouraged “rival motorcycle groups to attend the otherwise intended peaceable assembly at the restaurant, thereby bringing about the violent confrontation” and contributed to the mayhem “through their negligent use of firearms, negligent tactics in the manner in which they responded to a confrontation of their own creation and what they now claim was a known risk of violence.”
Chew on all that. Chew slowly. There is going to be plenty more in the coming days.