It is starting to seem possible that the trial of Dallas Bandido Christopher Jacob Carrizal may end not with a dramatic bang but a whimper: Which is to say not with a verdict but with a dismissal after the prosecution fails to make its case even before the defense offers a word of rebuttal.
Monday started with a whimper. Dallas attorney Clint Broden wanted to hold a pretrial hearing on behalf of his client Matthew Clendennen. Broden plans to call District Attorney Abelino Reyna to testify at Clendennen’s trial because Reyna is the man who ordered Clendennen’s arrest. So Broden is looking for ways to impeach what Reyna might say.
Broden has already gotten a court of inquiry convened to consider whether Reyna committed perjury under oath in a hearing in August. Broden also thinks he can prove that Reyna was being investigated by the FBI for dismissing cases against his friends and in return for political contributions
Today Broden wanted to interrogate First Assistant District Attorney Michael Jarrett about obtaining “a second phone in order to keep lines of communication open with” the FBI. Then he wanted to call an unidentified “local attorney” and ask him about Reyna’s alleged dismissals for cash program and “that Reyna was delivered cocaine in the period around his actions in relation to the Twin Peaks case.” Broden also planned to call other members of the DA’s office to testify against their boss.
It would have been the Waco legal highlight of the month but it was cancelled. Broden is under a gag order and he can’t say why. It might be because the District Attorney is running out of lawyers. Reyna, Jarrett, Amanda Dillon and Brody Burks were all in court today ineptly trying to convict Carrizal of murder.
Never Happen Again
The day began, as it usually does, with Gotro complaining about the prosecution withholding evidence. Last week, Judge Matt Johnson ordered Reyna to contact area police forces and find out what evidence they were holding. Apparently, Waco Police Public Information Officer Patrick Swanton was put in charge of accomplishing that. Swanton turned over the newly found evidence to prosecutors on Friday. The evidence included the bomblet that John Wilson, the local Cossacks president, was cooperating with police and had actually identified the Cossacks who had run a Bandido off the road and beaten him to the police. But Swanton didn’t bother to send any of the “newly discovered” material to Gotro until Sunday afternoon.
As is always the case, Reyna promised that would never, ever happen again.
Then the prosecutors got down to the serious business of trying to kill the jurors with boredom. They might actually accomplish that. The jury seems to be infected with flu. It appears to be spreading and at one point Monday afternoon the sickest juror looked like he might pass out.
Apparently, the point the prosecutors were trying to make today was that the people Carrizal is accused of wounding actually were wounded; that the people Carrizal is accused of murdering actually did die; and that the police only killed, like, four of them.
So half the morning an emergency room doctor at Hillcrest Medical Center named Richard Whitworth graphically described the injuries suffered by the Twin Peaks casualties who were brought there. A forensic pathologist named Reade Quinton described the autopsies performed on each of the dead at the Southwest Institute of Forensic Sciences in Dallas. Sure enough, the dead were scientifically proven to be dead and the next time any of the jurors plays scrabble they can wow their friends with words like extremis and thoracic. Jurors got to see an esophagus after it was removed from a corpse and what the inside of a skull looks like after the top and the brain have been removed. It looks very, very red.
Then a ballistics expert named April Kendrick took the stand and Amanda Dillon helped her construct what Vincent LaGuardia Gambini would describe as a house of cards. Dillon acted as if the police were on trial for murder.
She got Kendrick to testify that three police officers fired a total of 12 rounds. She testified that four of the dead were killed by shots fired from bullets from one or more of three M-16 variants. She came with a model bullet so jurors in Texas – in pretty rural Texas – might be taught the difference between a bullet and a cartridge case. She testified that a couple of 30.06 rounds that had had their primers removed and had found their ways onto keychains definitely did not kill anybody at the Twin Peaks.
There were hours of this. It was during Kendrick’s testimony that the sickest juror lowered his head and muttered Psalm 22.
Then Gotro cross examined Kendrick and when she did the sickest juror almost looked interested.
The .38 Caliber Family
Many bullets in the ballistics reports were described as being .38 caliber bullets. But she didn’t really mean that. What she meant, Gotro coaxed her into saying, was that those bullets were in the “38 caliber family” which includes many similar rounds. She didn’t bother to examine any of those bullets because that’s not what the Waco Police Department had hired SWIFS, as all the cool kids call it, to do. Waco PD only wanted to know whether a bullet that killed somebody was fired by a Waco cop or not. If it couldn’t have come out of the business end of an M-16, Kendrick just ignored it.
She never checked to see if the “two .38 caliber” rounds that struck Manuel “Candyman” Rodriguez came from the same gun or even if they came from a .357 mag and a .38 Special. Her job was only to compare the recovered bullets and bullet fragments to the three police weapons.
Gotro exposed more problems with Kendrick’s ballistic reports. All but one of the cartridges recovered at the crime scene were manufactured by Federal Premium Ammunition. The exception was made by Hornady Manufacturing. The Waco Police Department issues its officers Federal ammunition.
All three police rifles came with 30 round banana clips. Usually these clips are loaded with 28 – 30 rounds. The Waco Police told Kendrick that they had unloaded the detachable magazines and sent them to SWIFS segregated from one another – so rifle one was packaged with its magazine and the unused bullets that had been loaded into it. Rifle two, its magazine and unused bullets was in a second box. And so on with rifle three.
Since, in official accounts, the police were only supposed to have fired 12 rounds, Kendrick should have received between 72 and 78 rounds but she could only account for 66. One rifle arrived with 19 unfired rounds, a second with 25 unfired rounds and a third with 22 unfired rounds. So something between six and 12 rounds are unaccounted for.
And none of this, not a word of it, advanced the prosecutions case.
Beyond Reasonable Doubt
Gotro was just getting warmed up when Judge Matt Johnson sent the jury home until tomorrow.
Three weeks into this trial the prosecution hasn’t come close to proving that Jake Carrizal was more than just a guy in the wrong place. So far it is a wink-wink prosecution. Carrizal is a Bandido and everybody knows what that means. Right jurors? Wink-wink. Carrizal warned other Bandidos to not let themselves be vulnerable to a possible Cossacks attack and to leave their women at home.
“Bring tools,” he warned his club brothers. “Bring tools,” wink-wink. Now, we all know what that means, don’t we jury? Wink-wink.
This what a dead body looks like. Carrizal was there. Connect the dots, people! Wink-wink.
It is very bad when somebody becomes a quadriplegic. It is even worse when they die. Carrizal was there. Wink-wink.
The fact is Carrizal has a legal presumption of innocence. The prosecution must prove he did what they want the jury to assume he did. They have to prove he instigated the bloodiest biker brawl in American History. That is how the law works, even in Waco. When the prosecution ends its case, probably sometime this week, Gotro will file for a dismissal because the district attorneys have not proven he is guilty.
Today it seems at least possible that Johnson will grant the dismissal. After all, Reyna and his hand-picked dream team still have another 153 chances to convict somebody in the Biker Brawl case.
Maybe they can win the next one.
Oh. That’s right. Next up they get Clint Broden. And then they get Millie Thompson. And then Paul Looney is going to bring his show to Waco.