Cody Ledbetter has been trying to get his day in court for almost three years as the specter of witnessing his stepfather’s death in the 2015 Twin Peaks shootout and his pending indictment hang over his life.
Ledbetter and his attorney, Paul Looney, of Houston, got their wish Monday when 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson gave them the April 2 trial date initially reserved for the retrial of Jacob Carrizal, president of the Dallas Bandidos chapter, whose November trial ended in a mistrial.
Ledbetter’s stepfather, Daniel Boyett, was shot and killed at Twin Peaks during the Sunday afternoon brawl between members of the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle groups and their support clubs, and Ledbetter’s life has been turned upside down while the first-degree felony charge hangs over his head.
Carrizal’s trial ended in mistrial in November after jurors could not reach unanimous verdicts on any of the counts against him. The McLennan County District Attorney’s Office hand-picked Carrizal to be tried first among 154 bikers indicted at the time in the Twin Peaks case.
On Monday, Carrizal’s new attorney, Christopher Lewis, of Dallas, filed a motion for continuance in the case, telling Johnson he is set for trial in federal court in Dallas on the same day. He also said he received 1.9 terabytes of discovery from the DA’s office on Feb. 12 and needs more time to adequately review the materials and prepare for trial.
With a trial date available, Looney and Ledbetter, a 28-year-old diesel mechanic with no criminal record, jumped in.
“It is just time to go in and lay the cards on the table and let the jury exonerate this man,” Looney said. “He has been innocent and on bond for three years. That is a torture that no innocent person should have to go through. It is time for it to stop, and we are finally in front of a group of people who can finally make it stop.”
Looney filed a motion to disqualify McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna in October after it was discovered that the DA’s office released videos from Ledbetter’s cellphone that showed Ledbetter and his wife having sex. The videos were sent to more than 125 attorneys as part of the massive Twin Peaks discovery process.
He has since recalled that motion and said he is ready to go to trial.
In response to other Twin Peaks biker attorneys filing similar motions, Reyna dismissed 13 Twin Peaks cases and refused eight others that had not been indicted, effectively canceling hearings at which Reyna and his present and past assistants were subpoenaed to testify.
Reyna’s Republican challenger, Barry Johnson, and Twin Peaks attorneys charged that Reyna would have done anything to prevent negative testimony from coming out at the hearing before the March 6 primary.
Reyna has said he dismissed the cases so his office can refocus and shift their efforts toward those more culpable. Other dismissals are possible, he said.
Ledbetter, a former Cossack, was on the patio with his arm in a sling when the shooting started and ran for cover with others. He had no weapon with him that day, and drove a pickup to Twin Peaks because of his shoulder injury, Looney said.
“How can he possibly be guilty?” Looney said of Ledbetter. “He had his arm in a sling and no weapon and showed no aggression toward anybody. How can he possibly be one of the more culpable people that Abel is going after? I’m glad I got my trial date, but if Abel is really focusing on the more culpable, how in the world did Cody not get dismissed?”
Also Monday, the three Houston attorneys who were appointed to prosecute Twin Peaks defendant Matthew Clendennen after Reyna’s recused himself from that case notified 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother that they would also accept the cases of bikers Ray Nelson and Billy McRee.
Reyna also recused his office in those two cases.
Strother turned to the three, Brian Roberts, Brian Benken and Feroz Merchant, after the Texas Attorney General’s Office told the judge last week that its Criminal Prosecutions Division was unwilling to take on prosecution of the Twin Peaks cases from which Reyna recused himself.
In other Twin Peaks developments Monday, biker Sergio Reyes, of Wharton, a former member of the Desgraciados motorcycle group, withdrew his motion to recuse Judge Johnson from presiding over his trial. There is no trial date set in Reyes’ case.