ANKLE1

Seth A. Smith, a former Cossack, adjusts his ankle monitor in June shortly after he was released from jail.

Staff photo — Jerry Larson, file

Of the 177 bikers jailed after the May 17 Twin Peaks shootout, none remain in McLennan County jails and 135 of those were fitted with GPS ankle monitors after negotiating reduced bonds.

Almost five months later, all but 22 of those 135 have been allowed to remove the ankle monitors after agreements between their attorneys and state prosecutors to amend the conditions of their bonds.

None of the bikers who wore the monitors for varying periods of time committed any serious violations that caused them to be removed from the GPS program, said Ronnie Marroquin, office manager for Recovery Healthcare in Waco, which oversees the monitoring program.

Some had harder times than others adjusting to the program and committed what were considered technical violations, such as being a few minutes late on their curfews. But most had acceptable reasons and were allowed to stay out of jail with the monitors, Marroquin said.

Presumably, prosecutors are still waiting on state and federal authorities who are assisting in the investigation to finish their analysis of videos and ballistic evidence from the chaotic incident that left nine bikers dead and 20 injured.

Prosecutors have provided one round of discovery — the release of a portion of the state’s evidence — to defense attorneys, with a second batch due out soon, defense attorneys say.

Neither McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna nor his first assistant, Michael Jarrett, returned phone calls seeking comment about the Twin Peaks cases.

Reyna’s prosecutors have taken hard lines during examining trials for bikers, alleging that each showed up at Twin Peaks that day wearing his or her colors, most of them armed, in a show of full support for their affiliate members because they were keenly aware that such a firestorm could erupt.

This despite testimony from state and local officers that they had no evidence that the bikers in the examining trials committed any crimes or had any knowledge that the gunfight might occur.

So why now? Why are prosecutors allowing the bikers to roam free without the GPS tracking systems?

“Assuming, if you are like me, that this is not going to end up with 177 convictions and 177 life sentences,” said Austin attorney Adam Reposa, who said his multiple Bandido clients were set to get their ankle monitors removed last week.

“It is going to end up pretty much the opposite,” he said. “So if you are the people who are prosecuting, you have to start culling cases that you are conceding. They realize they are not going anywhere with this particular individual, so eventually, they have to start letting go.

“That is what I see. We are starting the letting-go process, although they are not admitting they did something wrong. Oh God, no. They would never do that. I don’t think we will ever get to that point where they admit these people did nothing wrong and should never have been arrested,” Reposa said.

Agreement made

Houston attorney Paul Looney said two of his three clients, a married couple from Brenham, were not required to wear the ankle monitors and his third client had his removed in an agreement with prosecutors.

“I can only speculate, but my guess is that the ones that are still wearing the ankle bracelets present some type of specific flight risk, or, in the alternative, their lawyers are lazy and they just haven’t come in to visit with the prosecutor,” he said. “A lot of lawyers haven’t done that.”

Looney cautioned that there likely is no connection between levels of culpability and those still wearing ankle monitors.

“I have gone through the discovery, and right now I am of the opinion that they might not successfully prosecute anybody who is still alive. I think they may have a couple of dead people they may be able to convict, but the ones who committed the crimes are dead. Everybody else was defending themselves or other people,” Looney said.

Waco attorney Melanie Walker said her client, a Cossack who says he is through with biker associations, lost his landscaping job while jailed for three weeks. She said the ankle monitor, which he was able to get removed in August, was a physical and financial burden on him and his young wife, but it beat being in jail.

“The ankle monitors were financial hardships on all of them and none of them had any violations. None of them,” Walker said. “My client got his off, but it also coincided with him having a death in his family where he had to travel and he had a brother injured in an accident and he had to travel for that, too. Those could have been part of the reason why they let him off.”

Those with ankle monitors paid $355, which includes a $100 installation fee, and then $255 a month for as long as they wear it, Marroquin said.

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