It is no longer possible to be subtle or merely ironic about this. Abel Reyna is a lying son of a bitch who is making a career of obstructing justice.
He is an embarrassment to himself, his family, the city of Waco, the state of Texas and to every prosecutor who doesn’t work for Kim Jong-un. Compared to Reyna, Angela Corey is Learned Hand. He is a disgrace to Baylor University, where he attended law school, and considering its recent history as the Baptist University where football players get a pass to rape, Baylor is almost impossible to further disgrace but Reyna has done it. If there was any hint of decency left in Waco, Reyna would be tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail.
There is a broken down, old temperance temple on U.S. 54 in the far northwest corner of the Lone Star State between Nara Visa and Dahlhart. The sign on the roof says “Whisky Is The Devil” and when you are riding your motorcycle drunk at dawn in a lightening storm with that temperance temple on your left side and a tornado on your right – when you come to that place on that road – you are forced to understand that sometimes there just may be consequences to things. And the city of Waco is at that place on that road right now – caught between a warning lit by lightening on one side and a glorious example of black and howling retribution falling right out of the goddamn sky on the other.
Be warned Waco. Repent. There’s none so blind as those who will not see.
Five hundred and seventy-two days ago McLennan County District Attorney Abelino Reyna personally ordered the arrest of 177 men and women for conspiring to murder each other at a brunch at a tacky breastaurant – which at the time offered the finest dining in all the county. Then he personally ordered a detective to lie, in writing, about why those people were being arrested. Then he old-boy-talked a ridiculous justice of the peace into approving those arrests and holding all the arrestees on identical $1 million bails. It ruined some of them. It shook most of them. It really annoyed the toughest of them with the least to lose. For the last 572 days local politicians have been bitching and moaning about how much it cost to lock them all up.
A redneck rooster named Patrick Swanton and Reyna and persons as yet unknown contrived a sordid explanation that plagiarized the script of the 1991 Brian Bosworth biker movie Stone Cold and fed it to the press that gathered in Waco as gulls gather at dumpsters. The press, as everyone should know, doesn’t get paid for telling the truth so much as for telling interesting and easy to grasp stories. So the press, led by the venerable Washington Post, further punished with shame, embarrassment and scorn all the people Reyna had already summarily punished with wrongful arrest.
Theoretically, all these wrongs might yet be righted but the truth of the matter, as every child knows, is you can’t put Humpty-Dumpty back together again. The damage Reyna has done is irreparable. The best his victims can hope for is to be repaid for what Waco has literally stolen from them. Then they can take a deep breath and try to start their lives over again, But before they can be partly repaid and be allowed to start over they must first be cleared of the bogus charges against them.
The same ignorant yahoos who complained about how much it cost to irregularly rendition all these social nonconformists now fret over how much it might cost to try them.
The rub is, Reyna has simply refused to let his victims prove their innocence in court. Every time the subject has been raised, Reyna has simply replied that he doesn’t yet have enough evidence to convict. The argument is surreally illogical. Reyna has said time and again that he can’t allow any of the cases to proceed until he has sifted through every last fragment of his victims’ shattered, former lives – what they posted on Facebook, the names in their address books, the unresolved complaints of their former wives, who they telephoned and when and how many times.
This has been going on now for 573 days. That is far more days than it has taken the world to forget what happened in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant one Sunday in the May before last; far more days than it takes to forget Reyna’s victims; far more days than it takes to make what Reyna has done seem irrelevant in the great scheme of things. That’s the point. Reyna and official Waco and official McLennan County and official Texas and the official United States Department of Justice and whoever else officially contrived a gunfight between the Cossacks and Bandidos Motorcycle Clubs wants the world to not notice that Reyna’s victims have been punished every day for the last 573 days.
Three hundred ninety days ago, the Houston attorney Paul C. Looney filed a “Request For Earliest Possible Trial Setting” on behalf of his client, a guy named Cody Ledbetter who lost his father that day, in that parking lot, the May before last. The police killed him.
“Most of these cases will need to be tried separately,” Looney argued. “Many of the defendants will seek changes in venue; the amount of pretrial publicity by itself could justify a change in venue, but it is plain that after the trials begin the publicity and attention will again be focused on these cases. The number of trials, all with almost identical evidence, will put an enormous strain on the resources of the McLennan County courts, prosecutors, law enforcement, and taxpayers. They also will put an enormous strain on the criminal defense bar, as they will need to purchase and learn the testimony from previous trials – eventually, over a hundred such transcriptions! Further, it is almost inconceivable that any defendants will choose to plead guilty when being faced with an untested legal theory – it could conceivably be malpractice for an attorney to recommend a guilty plea on what may turn out to be deemed legally insufficient evidence because of a flawed prosecution theory. Because of the remote likelihood that any significant number of cases will be resolved with pleas or dismissals, and the large number of defendants, even if one case was tried every week it would take more than two years to resolve the cases from this one incident.”
“Someone must go first;” Looney wrote, “and the sooner that occurs, the better for all involved. This Defendant is prepared to proceed to a jury trial without delay. No motions, beyond routine motions-in-limine, need to drafted or litigated. This Defendant is satisfied to go to a McLennan County jury and does not believe it necessary to seek a change in venue. The primary issues in this case are legal ones; there are few disputed facts. In short, the Defendant seeks to go to trial as quickly as possible, as a sort of “test case,” allowing his case to proceed before this Court, and before the appellate courts if necessary, in order to determine the validity, or lack thereof, of the State’s theory. The Defendant believes that most, if not all, relevant discovery has been provided and any outstanding discovery that the State must turn over can be provided quickly, allowing for trial at the earliest possible setting.”
Looney’s request was denied.
Last month, four of Reyna’s victims finally got trial dates. James Rosas is currently scheduled to get his chance to prove his innocence to a jury next January 23. But Reyna will be given a chance to further delay Rosas’ trial at a status hearing on January 13. Three Bandidos named Jerry Edward Pierson, Christopher Julian Carrizal and Christopher Jacob Carrizal were all given a trial date of April 25, 2017 but only one of them can be tried then. Reyna has not yet decreed which of the three it will be. And he has months to ask for another delay.
Meanwhile the Waco felony court sits empty. The Waco Tribune-Herald reported Monday that 23 cases were scheduled to be tried this week in the same court that may eventually try Rosas, Pierson and the two Carrizals, who are a father and his son. All of them were continued while 60 prospective jurors cooled their heels.
Tommy Witherspoon, who works for the Waco paper, called Reyna to solicit his comments about the unused courtroom but, “Reyna did not return phone messages Monday. Neither did his first assistant, Michael Jarrett.” Maybe they were drunk.
So far Reyna and the city and county he represents have suffered no consequences for the wrongs they have done. That doesn’t mean they never will. Anyone can see that. Maybe Reyna doesn’t see it because he is drunk with power. Maybe everybody in Waco is drunk too.
There is a cure for that. Tornado season is coming.