Attorneys for two Twin Peaks shootout bikers are seeking sanctions against McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna, claiming a last-minute motion offered Monday to remove Judge Ralph Strother from the case was improperly “filed for nakedly political purposes.”
Fort Worth attorneys Brian Bouffard, who represents Cossack Jorge Daniel Salinas, and David Conrad Beyer, who represents Cossack Billy McCree, charge in motions filed Tuesday that the state’s motion to recuse Strother was “baseless, made in bad faith and caused significant hardships” to those who traveled from out of town for the hearing.
“The state’s recusal motion was filed only seconds after Judge Strother denied the state’s continuance motion, which the state apparently felt Judge Strother was capable of hearing, so long as he ruled in their favor,” Bouffard said Tuesday. “When he didn’t, only then did they attack him. Their motion was filed despite the fact that the state had repeatedly fought to keep Judge Strother on all Twin Peaks cases to which he was assigned.
“And their motion was filed for nakedly political purposes — in the desperate hope that no further information regarding the official corruption of the elected district attorney, Abel Reyna, would come to light before the date of the Republican primary election,” he said.
Reyna faces challenger Barry Johnson in the March 6 Republican primary.
After the recusal motion, Strother was forced to delay Monday’s hearing, which was called to hear motions from Bouffard and Beyer seeking to disqualify Reyna from prosecuting the cases.
Prosecutors Michael Jarrett and Brody Burks asked Strother to delay the hearing, which the judge denied. Seconds later, they filed the motion to recuse the judge, who commented he was a bit surprised because the same prosecutors “vigorouosly opposed” defense motions from biker Jacob Carrizal and other bikers to recuse Strother a few months ago.
Reyna did not attend Monday’s hearing. Reyna did not return calls to his office or cellphone Monday or Tuesday.
Carrizal, the Bandidos’ Dallas chapter president, is the only one of 154 bikers indicted in the May 2015 Twin Peaks shootout to stand trial. His trial ended with a hung jury and a mistrial.
“The state’s actions are akin to that of a toddler who doesn’t get his way. And what do you know? They managed to delay yet again taking the stand to testify under oath and under penalty of perjury for lying. It is now going on three years since this incident with only one trial that was a hair’s breadth away from an acquittal. Enough is enough,” Bouffard said Tuesday.
The motions from Bouffard and Beyer say such actions by the state should not go unpunished and that Reyna should be sanctioned. The motions also ask for an expedited hearing on the state’s motion to recuse Strother.
Strother contacted Regional Administrative Judge Billy Ray Stubblefield, who appointed Retired State District Judge Phillip Vick of Denton County on Tuesday to preside over the recusal hearing. No hearing date had been set Tuesday.
The motions state that the judge hearing the recusal motion can impose sanctions against the attorney who filed it. That can include orders to pay attorneys’ fees and expenses incurred by the other party if the judge determines the motion was groundless and filed in bad faith or filed for unnecessary delay and without sufficient cause.
“Finally, the defense believes, and will show, that it was filed for nakedly political purposes — in the desperate hope that no further information regarding an FBI investigation into the official corruption of the elected district attorney, Abelino Reyna, would come to light before the date of the Republican primary election,” the motion alleges. “For the reasons set forth below, the state and/or the McLennan County district attorney should be sanctioned for its transparently bad-faith actions.”
Bouffard had subpoenaed Reyna and several current staff members, plus former Reyna first assistant Greg Davis, former longtime Waco police detective Sherry Kingrey and Waco attorney Brittany Scaramucci to testify at Monday’s hearing.
Davis, Kingrey and Scaramucci have filed sworn statements alleging Reyna is under federal investigation for political favoritism, that he dismissed cases for political favors, is “good friends” with those under investigation for illegal gambling and was delivered cocaine by one of Scaramucci’s former clients.