Waco Day 1326

March 22, 2018

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Waco Day 1326

It doesn’t seem likely that there will be another trial in the Waco Twin Peaks Mass Murder case until at least January 2, 2019. That will be 1,326 days after lame duck District Attorney Abel Reyna “helped” police with their investigation, as Waco Police Public Information Officer Patrick Swanton put it at the time, and unilaterally decided to arrest 177 witnesses because at least one of them was a murderer and possibly more than a dozen of them may have fired, thrust or swung a deadly weapon in what can probably be reasonably argued was self defense.

The defenses of the men who fought will probably be the same two defenses that peace officers always use which are: “Everybody has 20-20 hindsight” and “It is better to be tried by 12 than buried by six.”

Ten seasons ago, in the summer after nine people died at the hands of others and another 20 were injured severely enough to go to the hospital, it might have been possible to fairly try the score or less survivors of the worst “biker brawl” in American History against whom a case might be made. But the official priority of multiple McLennan County officials at the time was to seize control of the press narrative and sweep the self-evident facts of what happened into a well.

Bothering To Look

What happened has always been obvious to anybody who bothered to look. There are aerial photographs of the crime scene.

About 70 Cossacks showed up early and took all the seats and most of the parking spaces at an anticipated bikers’ rights meeting. They conspicuously left about eight or nine parking spots open right in front of the restaurant patio. There were two undercover Texas Rangers, dressed in Cossacks insignia, among them. State police had set up a pole camera at seven that morning to catch all the anticipated action. Then at least three Cossacks sent out text messages that graphically referred to the open parking spaces as a watermelon and a bucket of fried chicken with the caption, “Now we wait.” Eight Bandidos tried to park in the available parking spaces and were instantly told by a Cossack leader that they were forbidden to do so because Waco was a Cossack town. At least 14 of the Cossacks came to the Twin Peaks prepared for a fight. One of them stopped on the way to the restaurant that morning and bought a length of chain to use as a mace. The resulting “biker brawl” caught the public imagination and within hours numerous national and international outlets were reporting that the Bandidos had attacked the Cossacks.

Two outlets that told a different story were the New York Times and Time Magazine, This was the week when editors were shouting “Just find a biker expert to interview.” They both talked to me. I told both publications that what happened was probably a conflict between what was essentially a third generation motorcycle club with many inexperienced members and not much institutional wisdom and a middle-aged, established club that would have known better than to participate in a deadly riot in a public place. The whole truth turned out to be much more grotesque and cynical that that but anybody who actually understood what motorcycle clubs are in the new millennium could see that the story was getting the Sons of Anarchy treatment. I talked on the phone with the anthropologist Will Dulaney a day or two after the murders. “The police are seizing the narrative,” he said. “This is the worst I have ever seen. They are covering up something. You know, we have to do something about this.”

Skip It

Inevitably, my reaction that May was drowned out by Steve Cook, Jay Dobyns, Kerrie Droban, Julian Sher and The Washington Post. Years later I told a highly respected Bandido that if his club had known what the Cossacks had had in mind they would not have come with eight bikes. They would have come with “500 patches.”

“No,” he told me. “We just would have skipped it.”

Last autumn, Reyna finally put one of the first Bandidos to ride into the ambush, a very likable and obviously self disciplined man named Christopher Jacob Carrizal, on trial for starting the brawl. Most of the evidence that Reyna and his assistants presented against Carrizal proved that he was, indeed a Bandido; that police “experts” like to tell juries that the Bandidos are the Mafia; that Carrizal should have anticipated the Cossacks trap; that the ambush was an arranged affray; that he came there to “punish” the Cossacks for daring to put on a Texas patch; and that a minute examination of Carrizal’s private cell phone proved that he didn’t realize that his most personal remarks to his closest friends would be read back to a jury years later and cast in the worst possible light.

Money

The Carrizal trial probably cost at least $3 million. That represents about 60 percent of the McLennan County District Attorney’s annual budget. As is usually the case with boondoggles, the actual costs are difficult to calculate. I have been estimating the costs of these sorts of prosecutions for about ten years and I usually include line items that bureaucrats don’t: Like the costs of incarceration; towing costs, forensics, the judge’s salaries, or since Carrizal’s case actually involved four judges, all their salaries (for the trial alone, Judge Matt Johnson’s salary amounted to about $13,000); the salaries of their support staffs including at least $20,000 for the court reporters; courthouse overhead; the salaries of assistant district attorneys involved in the case and their travel expenses and the overhead for their offices and all of that amounted to at least $250,000 over more than two years; Reyna’s salary; the light bill; the salaries of other local, state and federal employees involved in the case; the salaries of the state’s expert witnesses; the cost of surveilling Carrizal for two years; and a half million dollars for courthouse security to protect the trial from entirely imaginary threats. The trial ended with a hung jury.

Stunningly, Reyna seems to want to try Carrizal again. Stunningly if Reyna has his way, McLennan County may be on the hook for another hundred Twin Peaks trials. These are all going to be what the federal judiciary calls complex trials. Figure $1 million per trial. Figure at least $1 billion in civil liability for this great, writhing pile of Mongolian cluster love.

Reyna lost a primary election earlier this month and he will no longer be in charge of the Twin Peaks prosecutions after next January. Someone else, either Republican Barry Johnson or independent Daniel Hare, will be.

More Money

Not including Reyna’s six figure salary or the similar salaries of his assistants (First Assistant Michael Jarrett, for example, makes $121,399 per year) the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office needs about $417,350 a month to operate, which leaves the office with about $3.8 million for the rest of the fiscal year ending in October. The county’s finances are opaque enough that it is somewhere between difficult and impossible to estimate how much of that budget would be consumed if a second Twin Peaks trial started tomorrow. But the point is, the next trial will not start tomorrow so the money available for one will be less than it would be tomorrow. The next trial, if there is ever a next trial, realistically can’t be expected to start until the Bandidos case in San Antonio finishes at the end of June. Or later. Even if Reyna lays off employees and refuses to replace them and unless his office refuses to prosecute anything not related to the Twin Peaks except for the child abuse cases he seems to so love, it is hard to imagine that there will be budget for more than two trials before next football season.

One thing Reyna could do, if he is as unscrupulous as he appears, is spend all the district attorney’s budget for fiscal 2019 on a big trial in November or December. If Reyna wins that one some people might think he has been vindicated. He might preserve his political career and he might limit his personal liability in the scores of false arrests suits that have been filed against him.

Tuesday, the county commissioners eliminated that slim possibility. Invoking something called the “lame duck law,” the commissioners voted to limit Reyna’s spending after next year’s general election. If he puts on a trial then he will need to tell the county how much it will cost and what result they can expect.

Considering the county’s potential liability for the legal mess Reyna has already made, it might almost be worth it to give him a couple of million to throw into a slam dunk prosecution. But that doesn’t seem likely. For one thing, Reyna has made such a mess with his stalling that none of the cases are slam dunks anymore. And, besides that, with all due respect to Central Texas, from far off on the left coast, Waco politics look a lot more like the Dukes of Hazzard than Machiavelli.

So Reyna has probably prosecuted his last Twin Peaks case. The next trial, doesn’t look likely to begin until early next year. It remains to be seen whether either Barry Johnson or Daniel Hare will conclude that it will be worth $100,000 or $200,000 or $500,000 or however much the next trial will cost to protect the reputation of their predecessor. Spending the county’s money on that probably won’t be their top priority.

Getting the county out of the hole Reyna has dug seems more like it. Finally the other night, some of the local politicians hinted that it might be time for the incumbent prosecutor to stop shoveling.

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18 Responses to “Waco Day 1326”

  1. Tom Says:

    @Gandalf
    Shame to hear.

  2. Gandalf Says:

    @Tom
    During Jake’s trial I actually talked to people from The Marshall Project. They sounded VERY interested. I sent them to Rebel, Broden and Cassie. That was months ago. This story disgusts me because they have the smoking gun stinking up Waco yet, do not even mention it. Racism cuts both ways and the only way The Marshal Project will take notice is if/when 200 black people are arrested at the Apollo Theater over a fight between red and blue. Anyone wearing red or blue gets arrested, called thugs, givin 1Mil bail and never get a trial. It seems obvious to me that The Marshal project is only concerned with black people. What a shame too… Blacks get shit on over these “gang” laws every day. When givin the opportunity to do something about it using TP as a president… They Fucking fold up like the cheap suits they are. The Law don’t see color… just the Lawyers. Black people would have done well to support the Bikers at Twin Peaks… But NO! You guys will always be “Thugs” to them… and they will always be “Thugs” to you. So be it! Fuck them!

  3. Bbally Says:

    The Under Cover officers with the Cossacks broke a lot of laws. When will the prosecutors begin to look at the real chargers of Inciting and starting a riot?

    If they had UC on hand participating with the Cossacks they are bound to stop the event! Instead we have a Mayberry Squad of morons setting up cameras in a parking lot knowing the Event has been set up to go downstairs?

  4. Not the 99 Says:

    Rebel

    Ten seasons?

    Is that what you meant, or is that an example of how redicules this waiting game has become?

  5. Iron Rider Says:

    Good on the commissioners to limit Reyna from plundering the coffers for all he can before he is booted out of office. Something tells me the commissioners sensed that Reyna might try and make a dash for the cash before he leaves, and they didn’t want that going on since Reyna will be leaving therm with lots of future decisions to make on how they are going to pay for all those lawsuits that Reyna cost them.

  6. BigV Says:

    The reality is that asking a man like Reyna to see anything from a view of common sense is just- asking too much.

    This apparently has always been something so deeply person for Reyna that he cannot disengage.

  7. Gunny4Sawx Says:

    Don’t give them righteous texans any ideas, they might just find a few innocent men guilty just to avoid the financial impact their turning a blind eye to justice will bring.
    If one can sleep at night knowing the crimes the DA has been committing down there who knows what wrongs they are capable of. All in the name of low property taxes.

  8. Paula Carroll Swann Says:

    The police need to take responsibility for their actions of sitting up in sniper position and shooting American Citizens at a restaurant in a busy shopping center. Was O’Neal in the white Toyota Tundra truck? That’s what & who Jackson and Bucher was really looking for?
    Someone definitely went to the police to cover up another crime with lies that got the ball rolling on getting 9 people killed & 18 wounded. O O O. MR. G KNOWS.
    The meeting was at 10:am then they all went to lunch which the restaurant’s open at 11:am except for the Denny’s at the Flying J truck stop , Bucher’s dash cam showed they had gone to a Mexican cantina for lunch. Not one officer that took the stand could recall anything that happened that day and none brought their own reports to court. Yet they planned for this day in advance had multiple meetings and even a trial run with tear gas that scared children and teachers at a Monastery School the weekend before.
    Officer Stone said we wasn’t supposed to shoot, yet 14 officer’s fired their weapons, but they want us to believe that 3 officer’s fired 12 shots total. That is not what Chief Stroman said in the press conference, 44 shots came from LE weapons and Price only sent the 3 rifles for ballistic testing, it was to save money. …. No it was to hide the number of people shot that are still alive. …
    Did any one else catch the fact that 3 bullets was later found at the scene after it had been washed? The female tech photographing just walked right over the one that a day later the male tech just happened to find.

  9. MtPockets Says:

    As always, Rebel, THANK YOU.
    Thank you for covering something that the main stream media doesn’t, and with the truth and facts that the main stream press just can’t ever seem to find.

    Much respect and admiration.

    MTP

  10. Largeandy Says:

    “Deal in shit, then you get paid in shit!”

  11. Gypsy Girl Says:

    Long time lurker, first time caller…

    My brother has ridden with a club for almost twenty years-He is a veteran, a hard worker, and a great person. He’d give anybody the shirt off his back, but all the cops see is the patch he wears on his back. They don’t give a shit if their trap gets him killed, as long as they can make a big fucking display to the public making themselves out to be heroes and anyone on a motorcycle a villain. So they set everything up to be sure there’s a brawl, shoot and kill the men that they intentionally put into that situation, and now the taxpayers have to pay the millions of dollars for these bullshit trials? I hope they all get the shit sued out of them when this fiasco is all over.

    Gypsy

  12. Gandalf Says:

    Dear Cossacks, As you can see we have honored our deal with Big O and none of you went were tried and/or convicted. We regret that we had to kill your brothers and arrest Y’all but, well… Sorry. We had to cover our tracks. We tried. Thanks for your cooperation. (better luck next time)
    #WhereTheFuckisBigO?

  13. Paladin Says:

    “Finally the other night, some of the local politicians hinted that it might be time for the incumbent prosecutor to stop shoveling.” The foregoing is giving Reyna a lot of credit. If Reyna were smart enough to stop shoveling, he would have been smart enough to have never started.

    Paladin

  14. Theseus Says:

    Rebel, great commentary on the end of a tyrant.
    The voters, the County Commissioners, the Texas AG , the judges..even the Waco Trib have all taken positions to distance themselves from this toxic waste of a politician.
    Reyna will make some noise before the end of his term, but he has lost his support group and the County’s unlimited bank account to finance his malfeasance.
    If Reyna was a motorcycle, he has an empty gas tank, two flat tires and a frame of broken welds , that is rusted and cracked. Not going anywhere.
    Thanks to all who contributed to the collapse of Reyna’s machine.

  15. Freebird Says:

    IMO the slam dunks are already dead, and I say that respectfully…. At most a simple investigation would have ended with we have a self-defense fight after the first shot was fired. Now we watch the smoke from the first battle gently leave the battlefield.

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