Three years after Twin Peaks: Fewer defendants, stack of lawsuits

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) One thousand ninety six days after nine bikers died and 20 more were wounded at Waco’s Twin Peaks restaurant, there are fewer defendants, a stack of pending lawsuits, and justice, but only for some in the wake of the May 17, 2015 shootout.

(File)

At mid-day on May 17, 2015, at the Twin Peaks Restaurant just off southbound Interstate 35 at Loop 340, rival motorcycle gangs met for a legislative update that within minutes turned into a deadly gunfight that resulted in deaths, injuries and ultimately 177 arrests.

Just three weeks before the gunfight District Attorney Abel Reyna met with journalists from KWTX on another matter, but at the end of the meal Reyna outlined a warning about Twin Peaks and motorcycle gangs that he was sure would sooner or later turn violent.

Three years ago today Reyna’s prediction proved prescient.

Waco police detained pretty much everyone there who was, or appeared to be, associated with a motorcycle gang.

The suspects were bused to the Waco Convention Center where Reyna virtually ordered them all arrested on identical warrants and Justice of the Peace W.H. “Pete” Peterson set bond for each at $1 million.

There weren’t enough lawyers in Waco to handle the huge client list so out-of-town attorneys started showing up on court dockets, some hired and some appointed by the courts.

The already busy criminal dockets in 19th and 54th District Courts grew exponentially overnight.

Defense attorneys by the dozens began begging prosecutors to dismiss charges based upon videos that showed their clients running from the Twin Peaks scene, not involved in the brawl, but Reyna stood his ground.

Court motions by the dozens, more than 130 federal civil rights lawsuits, appointment of special judges, appointment of special prosecutors and accusations of a federal investigation and Reyna did not budge.

Then last November the state prosecuted Christopher Jacob Carrizal, past president of the Dallas Bandidos chapter, on the original charge which was engaging in organized criminal activity, but that trial ended in mistrial.

Carrizal has been set for re-trial in September but he has since been named in a superseding indictment and it’s not clear if the trial date will stand.

Then in March Reyna lost his campaign in the GOP Primary for re-election.

Early in 2018, however, the Twin Peaks cases began to fall by the wayside.

Between February and last week judges had signed dismissals on 126 of the 154 indicted, court records showed.

Perhaps the most outspoken of the defense attorneys, Dallas lawyer F. Clinton Broden, said Wednesday Twin Peaks should send several lessons.

“In the end, justice has begun to prevail in the Twin Peaks saga,” Broden wrote.

“Nevertheless, justice was three years in coming and came at a very heavy price to many individuals and their families.”