Doing Carrizal First

July 11, 2017

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Doing Carrizal First

The following excerpts from the transcript of a June 2, 2017 hearing before Judge Ralph Strother illustrate the extent to which Strother has cooperated and intends to cooperate with prosecutors to secure a conviction of Dallas Bandido Christopher Jacob “Jake” Carrizal.

Carrizal is currently accused of directing the activities of a criminal street gang, engaging in organized criminal activity with an underlying offense of murder and engaging in organized criminal activity with an underlying offense of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Prosecutors have thought for more than a year that they can convince a Waco jury to convict Carrizal.

Multiple defense attorneys in the case have wanted to have their clients tried for similar charges so they can prove their innocence. But both judges in the case, Strother and Matt Johnson, have refused. McLennan County prosecutors have refused to officially complete their investigation of the biker brawl at the Waco Twin Peaks restaurant on May 17, 2015. They have also attempted to overwhelm defenders with terabytes of irrelevant information contained in so-called “evidence dumps.”

So 787 days after 177 witnesses were arrested and held on $1 million or more bail, there have been no trials. The delays seem to result from a calculated, official conspiracy to obstruct justice.

The Ambush

The facts of the Twin Peaks brawl are readily accessible. A group of about 70 members of the Cossacks, Scimitars and Bogatyrs Motorcycle Clubs attended a meeting of the Texas Coalition of Clubs and Independents with the intention of disrupting that meeting and provoking a confrontation with the Bandidos Motorcycle Club and other clubs who maintained friendly relations with the Bandidos. More than 50 Cossacks, Scimitars and Bogatyrs have plausibly denied any advance knowledge of the conspiracy to disrupt the meeting. At least one Scimitar has said he thought he was going to the Twin Peaks for a “Sunday Fun Day.”

But at least 16 Cossacks, including 14 chapter sergeants at arms and two Cossacks leaders, called “Nomads” by other Cossacks, seem to have anticipated the brawl. Police, unlike virtually everyone charged in the case, anticipated the brawl.

But police did nothing to stop the violence. Instead they took steps to record it on numerous video cameras, including at least one clandestine police camera installed by a Texas Department of Public Safety employee at seven that morning. Police witnesses have acknowledged seeing Cossacks preparing to ambush Dallas Bandidos as they rode into the parking lot of the Twin Peaks. The first shots in the melee were fired by two Cossacks. One of them survived the brawl but has not yet been prosecuted. One was killed by police. A witness The Aging Rebel considers credible reported seeing a Cossack jump out of a dumpster with a gun in his hand just as the shooting started. There is also some credible evidence that police not only anticipated the “worst biker brawl in history” but encouraged it.

Not Roshomon

Immediately after the brawl a breathtakingly complete narrative appeared in the national press that blamed the Bandidos and the Confederation for the violence, As opposed to the Roshomon effect one might anticipate to prevail in accounts of such a horrific event, virtually instant statements made by the Waco police spokesman, quasi-official biker experts and by various Cossacks were remarkably consistent in defining the reasons for the brawl and how it started.

The official narrative went: The Bandidos had forbidden the Cossacks to wear a Texas bottom rocker on their vests and the Cossacks had defied them. The Confederation was a Bandidos extortion racket. The Cossacks were there because they had been invited there by the Bandidos. The Bandidos invited them there in order to ambush them. The brawl started when a Bandido rudely backed over a “young” Cossack prospect’s foot. When other Cossacks rushed to the prospect’s defense the Bandidos started shooting. Bandidos “executed” Cossacks as they tried to crawl to safety. The narrative, and its sudden omnipresence were eerily reminiscent of the sorts of disinformation regularly disseminated by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Forearms and Explosives’ Assistant Director for Public and Governmental Affairs.

Six months later the Department of Justice unsealed an indictment that culminated a years long investigation of the Bandidos. Among the accusations was that the Bandidos had been at war with the Cossacks. The indictment did not mention the Twin Peaks brawl once.

Why Stall

The criminal accusations against 192 people who are almost uniformly innocent of any crimes have been deliberately stalled by McLennan County prosecutors and the judges who control the cases for more than two years. No one yet seems to have wondered why out loud. For the first year during which the case was stalled there was general speculation that eventually the case “would go federal.” Judge Strother himself has alleged that there may be connections between the Twin Peaks cases and the Bandidos federal racketeering case. However that federal case has foundered and Waco prosecutors and judges now seem determined to prove their original narrative to a fatally poisoned jury.

Carrizal went to Waco looking for a fight, prosecutors will argue. He was responsible for leading other men to that fight. And practically the moment he got to the Twin Peaks he aggressively used his big, loud motorcycle to bully Cossacks out of his way.

It is a farfetched story that is at odds with practically all the facts but after their success with gullible grand juries Waco prosecutors think they can get a trial jury to swallow it whole. That is why Waco prosecutors want to “do Carrizal first.”

Do Carrizal First

Late last month, a defense attorney in the mass of Twin Peaks cases accused Judge Strother of playing “musical chairs with the trial schedule so the District Attorney’s Office case can lead with the one it ‘wanted to go first.’”

The transcript of the June 2 hearing illustrates this legal gamesmanship.

The hearing was held at the request of defense attorney Millie L. Thompson who represent a defendant named Paul Landers. Thompson wanted to know why her clients trial had been postponed. Assistant District Attorneys Amanda Dillon and Michael Jarrett also participated in the hearing.

STROTHER: All right. Thank you. You-all be seated. Alright. Ms. Thompson, I think I understand why you’re…why you’re here, so if you want to proceed, have at it.

THOMPSON: Yes, Your Honor. We filed a renewed speedy trial request, and from what I understand…and I have some questions about it. If you guys could inform me, that would be great too…is we were set for trial on Mr. Landers’ case in July with a pretrial hearing date in June. We have some subpoenas out for that June hearing. And I received a notice from your coordinator, Ms. Ellen, stating…and the notice just said that the case was now on a 2A docket for a date in August. And what had been happening, just for the record, before we got the trial setting is, Mr. Landers’ case…and I understand the other Twin Peaks cases as well…had been being reset by emails through counsel, and then we got the trial date and so we didn’t have that email resetting, and it looks to me like we are now back on the email resetting. So I guess the first thing, Judge, is, is there any way we can get back on the July trial docket?

STROTHER: I don’t know. That’s what we’re going to talk about. You know the complexity of this issue and just the sheer volume of it. We were supposed to have been in trial on another matter, on the Carrizal matter, in May. In fact, we had a jury panel and were about to pass out jury questionnaires. Well, that turned out to be a train wreck, because counsel that had been representing Mr. Carrizal for nearly two years was retained or at least appearing pro bono, and it turned out the defendant wanted a new attorney. We had a big…several hearings over that matter, and that case has now wound up being set by the Court, not by the State or defense, for September. And that kind of …and then there is this issue of this federal case that is being tried in San Antonio. There is still that issue involved, although I said we’re going to trial on the Carrizal matter in September, and so were still in a state of confusion about everything else.

***

STROTHER: It’s just this whole matter is very complex. I think Ms. Thompson is wanting to get…if I understand it, to get to trial before that.

DILLON: And, Judge, just to be clear, I think Ms. Thompson’s…Mr. Landers’ case was always the second one. We were going to do Carrizal first, which was going to be in April, and then we were going to be in the 54th in May and then come back in June or July, somewhere in there. So with Carrizal’s case being set in September, she would still be the second case if she’s set…so it would be November in here, so she would still fall in line as that second case, and I think we’re talking about a matter of three months.

***

THOMPSON: Judge, may I…so my understanding of how Mr. Landers got a trial setting and was supposed to be set, we went in…and it turned out to be a DNA warrant setting, and we were here for that. And we were in the coordinators’ office, and I asked about resetting, and Ms. Amanda Dillon was there as well and asked if I wanted a trial setting, and I said yes. So at first we were going to be set on the same day as Carrizal in April, and then I had a sexual assault of a child case set in Travis County and so I couldn’t do that and so I asked for July, so that’s when I got our July setting, and I think that was in February. And then my understanding from being here in court was, we were actually…Mr. Landers’ case was supposed to be a backup to Carrizal if Carrizal couldn’t go, so we were supposed to be here on March 24th, both me and my client, in order to be a backup to that panel…that jury panel that was supposed to be picked, and then we got notice that we would not be a backup for that panel. So I don’t know what the State’s plan in terms of who they want to try first is. I just know that we got a trial setting in July. So I guess my first question is, how did we end up not having a trial setting?

STROTHER: Because the Court took it away from you.

THOMPSON: Okay.

JARRETT: And that’s our understanding, Judge. The Court at the time…I think two weeks ago…when we were here on Carrizal notified the State and the defense that that would be the first trial that was going to go. Like manner, we’ve called off all the witnesses, we’ve planned on trying the Carrizal matter. Regardless of what somebody says, each of these cases is very particularized. This is not some case where we just plug in one defendant and try the same case. That’s not going to happen. Every case is going to be formed and strategized around the specific facts of the specific defendant. We can’t just plug one in and say, ‘Well, let’s do this guy today.’ That’s not how this is going to work. These cases are all very, very specific to each defendant. The November setting is fine.

THOMPSON: Judge, could I ask something.

STROTHER: Sure.

THOMPSON: About the November setting? So my understanding is that Mr. Looney’s client…I’m blanking on the name of the client. I know Mr. Looney’s name.

STROTHER: Ledbetter, I think it is.

THOMPSON: But he has a September trial setting in this Court, or that was my understanding, unless that has changed, and then Mr. Broden has two clients, Bergman and Matthew Clendennen, who were set, I believe, in October or November.

STROTHER: I believe they are in the 54th.

JARRETT: Correct.

THOMPSON: I think one of them is in here.

JARRETT: They are both in the 54th.

DILLON: No. Clendennen is set…Clendennen is set in the other court. I don’t believe Bergman was ever set in here.

STROTHER: But it’s in the 54th.

DILLON: No. I think Bergman is in here.

STROTHER: Is Bergman in here?

DILLON: Clendennen is over there. Clendennen is set. After we do Carrizal, then we go over there and do Clendennen, I believe.

STROTHER: All right. Look, here is where part of the confusion comes in. It’s not anybody’s fault. It’s just the nature of the volume of these matters. I’m going to make it clear that the first case we’re going to try, at least in this Court, is Carrizal, and I’ll give you the second setting, Ms. Thompson, and that’s going to be in November. I’ll deal with Mr. Looney’s situation with the cases set in September.

***

THOMPSON: Judge, respectfully, was this lineup decided with the State and the Court, because I have not….

STROTHER: It wasn’t decided by the State. It has been decided by the Court.

THOMPSON: Okay. So I don’t understand, Judge. Since Mr. Landers had a trial setting in July, can the Court decide that that’s the lineup now?

STROTHER: Well, I did.

THOMPSON: Okay.

JARRETT: And, Judge, I think the law is well settled the Court has broad discretion in determining how he wants to set its docket.

STROTHER: That’s what we’re going to do, Ms. Thompson.

THOMPSON: Respectfully, Judge, my understanding from a transcript in the March 24th hearing with Casie Gotro on Jake Carrizal’s case is that the Court asked the State, ‘Do you want to try Carrizal first,’ and they said, ‘Yes.’ So I guess my question is, did the State put forth some sort of motion saying, ‘We want to try Carrizal first’ and that was something decided by the Court?

STROTHER: Other than whatever was said at that hearing, no.

THOMPSON: Okay.

STROTHER: I don’t know of any such motion.

JARRETT: There has been no such motion.

STROTHER: Other than what might have…whatever is on the record at that hearing.

THOMPSON: Well, can we make a motion that Mr. Landers be first and that we get back on our July trial setting?

STROTHER: You can make it, and I’m denying it, so we’re…I’ve told you the way we’re going to do it.

THOMPSON: Okay. Is there anything I can say, Judge, to get back on the July trial setting?

STROTHER: No. Anything else?

JARRETT: I think we’re clear.

STROTHER: Okay.

 

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9 Responses to “Doing Carrizal First”

  1. JohnO Says:

    Is it just me or does anyone else feel like this is one big shell game, what shell is the pea under now. Judge: set a date and let’s let these folks get their lives back. Reyna putting everyone lives on hold because he has no case. Don’t forget the Cossacks MC had a cop in their club so why is he not up on charges?

  2. Steel Says:

    Judge really sounded like an idiot. Basically admits he’s doing whatever Reyna and his cohorts want. Doubt any of these men can get a fair trial. The fix is in.

    Respects

    Steel

  3. Phillip Barber Says:

    There is absolutely no way a fair trial can now be held in this county. First, the jury pool had been way to polluted over the last two years & 2nd, once they realize it’s their tax dollars they’ll be loosing… Eay Charles can figure out how they’ll sway.

  4. Reverand Says:

    As usual the fair lady justice is being held hostage in the most corrupt county in Texas. No faith in our leagal system ay all as long as this gooberd up good ole boy network is in place

  5. DirtySteve Says:

    It seems like these cases are being tried in the court of public opinion. The juror pool in McLennan county has been thoroughly polluted. Mr. Carrizal has no chance of getting a fair trial. This is a horrible situation all the way around.

  6. Neuro Says:

    Is there not a defense fund specifically for bloodshot eye guy ?

  7. Iron Rider Says:

    What a clusterfuck Reyna and his pals are making these Twin Peaks cases into. Reyna and pals are doing everything they can with the courts help to keep a trial from happening and we are all seeing taxpayers money flushed down the drain instead of Reyna swallowing his pride and dismissing case he has no hope of winning.

    If you ever wondered why the courts are so bogged down and so much money is wasted bringing cases before the court that have no place being there, the Twin Peaks casea are a pretty good example of this.

    The court and Reyna should all be tried for high stupidity , but I doubt they could get that done right either.

  8. Dutchboy Says:

    It’s the old “who’s on first” comedy routine but with the cast being paid way too much and nobody laughing. Somebody get Lady Justice some Preparation H, she’s gonna need it after this.

  9. TX_Biker Says:

    Justice denied.

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