A visiting judge quashed subpoenas for McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna and three members of his staff and shut down a hearing in a Twin Peaks shootout case shortly after it began Monday morning.
Visiting Judge Douglas Shaver, of Houston, cut off Dallas attorney Clint Broden’s efforts to discredit Reyna by offering testimony of what some say is an ongoing federal investigation of Reyna on allegations he dismissed cases for friends and donors for political gain.
Without hearing arguments from either side, Shaver granted Reyna’s motion to dismiss his subpoena and those of prosecutors Michael Jarrett and Amanda Dillon and discovery coordinator Heather Nering. Reyna and his staff members left the courtroom immediately after Shaver’s ruling.
Broden, who represents former Scimitars member Matthew Clendennen, of Hewitt, next tried to call Julissa West, Reyna’s former longtime administrative assistant, as a witness.
Broden asked West about her conversations with Dillon “regarding statements Abel Reyna made at the scene at Twin Peaks regarding what these arrests could do for his political career.”
Prosecutor Brody Burks, the sole McLennan County prosecutor left in the courtroom, left his seat in the gallery and acknowledged he likely had no legal standing to object. However, he objected nonetheless that the question calls for a hearsay response.
Shaver said he would allow Broden to continue to keep things moving, saying West could answer the question.
“Well, (Dillon) wasn’t there,” West said, “but things that she knew were said there ...”
“Wait a minute, she wasn’t there? But she said what?” the judge interrupted.
“She wasn’t present there,” West said.
“All right, that’s enough. You got anything else? This is just nonsense,” the judge said.
The judge brusquely ordered West off the witness stand.
“You can leave. Get down,” Shaver said. “You are through. Anything else?”
Broden said he had nothing else if the judge was rejecting his efforts to make a record on appeal. The judge said he would not allow it.
Shaver was appointed to hear the case after 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson recused himself from Clendennen’s case.
Reyna also recused his office from Clendennen’s case, but Broden wanted to present evidence to corroborate an affidavit from Reyna’s former first assistant, Greg Davis, who said he resigned because he did not approve of Reyna showing favoritism to his cronies and political donors by dismissing prosecutable cases.
Broden submitted Davis’ affidavit in Clendennen’s case because Davis was not available to testify at Monday’s hearing.
Broden had subpoenaed a number of people to testify in his efforts to discredit Reyna, including FBI agent Dan Brust, who Davis said he, Jarrett, Dillon and West all have spoken to as part of Brust’s investigation into possible wrongdoing by Reyna.
After West was unceremoniously removed from the stand, Shaver shut down that portion of the hearing, leaving Broden only with scheduling matters to discuss.
Broden had hoped to elicit testimony to support his claims that Reyna hijacked the Twin Peaks investigation from Waco police officials and ordered 177 bikers to be jailed on identical charges with identical $1 million bonds. Waco police have testified they were conducting a murder investigation and had already interviewed a busload of bikers, identified them and let them go home when Reyna arrived and ordered the mass arrests of bikers associated with Bandidos or Cossacks.
Davis, in his affidavit, listed a number of Reyna’s friends or supporters who had pending criminal cases that Reyna dismissed that troubled him enough to resign his top assistant job. He said he and Jarrett spoke to Reyna about it in March 2013 and Reyna said, “Never get in my f---ing business again.”
Davis said he and Jarrett met with Texas Ranger Matt Lindemann about their concerns in December 2013 and met with Brust, the FBI agent, in August 2014. Davis wrote in his affidavit that Jarrett, Reyna’s current first assistant, got another cellphone so he could speak with Brust and others without Reyna knowing about it.
Broden had subpoenaed Jarrett’s cellphone records for Monday’s hearing.
After the hearing, West said in an interview that she thought she was going to testify about her discussions with the FBI agent and how Reyna asked her to pull the cases of at least 50 friends and supporters so he could dismiss them outright or have special prosecutors appointed who would dismiss them.
Waco attorney Robert Callahan, who represents Twin Peaks biker William Chance Aikin, and who attended Monday’s 20-minute hearing, said other Twin Peaks attorneys likely will seek to disqualify Reyna from prosecuting their cases based on allegations he made the decision to arrest 177 bikers for political gain.
If bikers like Clendennen, who allege they did nothing wrong at Twin Peaks, can show Reyna ordered the arrests and also has dismissed cases for donors and friends for political gain, they can establish a pattern that Reyna has made himself a witness in the case and should be removed from prosecuting them, Callahan said.
Before the hearing adjourned, Shaver asked Broden and the three Houston attorneys he appointed as special prosecutors — Brian Benken, Brian Roberts and Feroz Merchant — when they think they can be ready to try the case.
Broden said his client is innocent and he could start his trial today, saying he is aware the special prosecutors “inherited this mess.”
He encouraged them to review the evidence against Clendennen, who he said did nothing wrong and is seen on videos ducking and running for cover.
“Well, they can dismiss it if that’s the case,” Shaver said of the special prosecutors.
Roberts told the judge there is no way to know now when they will be ready for trial because they are just starting their review of more than 2 million documents that have been turned over to them.
The judge set a pretrial hearing in the case for March 5 and 6, and the prosecutors told the judge they would have a better idea of when they would be ready to try the case by then.
Shaver said he intends to pay the special prosecutors the same rates as court-appointed defense attorneys are paid in 54th State District Court. That means the trio of attorneys will be paid $75 an hour for out-of-court work, $80 an hour for court time and $50 an hour for travel time to and from Houston.
The first trial of a Twin Peaks shootout case ended in a mistrial after jurors said they could not reach a verdict in any of the three counts against Jacob Carrizal, the Dallas Bandidos chapter president. A tentative retrial date in that case is set for April 2.