McLennan County will ask the state to reimburse $600,000 in costs associated with the first trial stemming from the deadly shootout in 2015 at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco.
The county received about $270,000 in October 2016 from the state’s County Essential Services Program, primarily for costs incurred the day of the incident and shortly thereafter, including housing people at the Jack Harwell Detention Center. At the same time, the city of Waco received almost $250,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice.
County commissioners agreed Tuesday to reapply for the state program. County Administrator Dustin Chapman said the reimbursement would cover expenses related to the trial of Jacob Carrizal, Dallas Bandidos chapter president. The county spent about $572,000 for sheriff’s deputies’ overtime during the trial. The county’s request to the state also seeks to cover juror-related expenses, Chapman said.
The county’s grant request from the state is for $571,609 in overtime costs; $81,419 for professional services, including court reporters and expert consultation; and $23,557 for other expenses, including meals, travel and security items.
During their meeting Tuesday, commissioners also approved moving $3,500 out of the countywide contingencies line item to the jury meal and lodging line item. County Auditor Stan Chambers said the move is to cover expenses from the first trial.
Chambers reminded commissioners that during discussions leading up to the adoption of the budget for fiscal year 2018, which started Oct. 1, the court agreed to fund Twin Peaks-related costs as they arose. Commissioners decided not to approve advance funding requests from department heads for potential Twin Peaks-related costs, he said.
Commissioners agreed in February to allow deputies to work overtime in anticipation of the trials. Previously, deputies received time off to offset any overtime they worked. However, county leaders said with 154 Twin Peaks-related indictments, the sheriff’s office would never be staffed if deputies were required to take time off to offset overtime.
Commissioners have had to pay for the overtime out of the countywide contingency line item. Commissioners put $1,016,000 in the line item at the start of the fiscal year in October, and about half is already spent.
Commissioners have said they hope to hear from the sheriff’s office on its assessment of security efforts for the first Twin Peaks trial and its plans for the next one. It remains unclear when the next trial will be.
Chapman said the county has received a few inquiries from entities about housing the Themis statue original to the courthouse. Now that a duplicate statue is in place, commissioners are looking for ideas for what to do with the original Greek goddess of divine law. The 18-foot statue crowned the courthouse for 116 years.
Former Precinct 3 Commissioner Joe Mashek asked the court to consider placing the original, two courthouse eagle statues and a historical county tower clock together in the parking lot facing the courthouse. A clock tower was considered for display at one point, but the idea died because of politics, Mashek said. The county clock and bell were in the old courthouse in 1884.
Precinct 3 Commissioner Will Jones said commissioners voted in November 2012 to display one of the original courthouse eagles in the building’s rotunda, but more than five years later, nothing has been done.
County Judge Scott Felton said it is past time to get moving on that.
“We just kind of dropped the ball,” he said.