A McLennan County grand jury headed by an Iraq War combat veteran will begin hearing evidence next week in cases related to the May 17 Twin Peaks melee in which nine bikers were killed and 177 were jailed, according to courthouse sources.
The 12-person panel, summoned in a specially-called meeting, will assemble Tuesday morning, and prosecutors will begin presenting evidence from the Twin Peaks incident, the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said.
Grand juries in McLennan County routinely meet twice a month on Wednesdays. But, because Wednesday is Veterans Day, the grand jury was asked to meet Tuesday.
If the grand jury wasn’t going to meet until the next regular meeting on Nov. 18, that would be more than six months after the bikers were arrested and possibly set off a flurry of motions from attorneys seeking relief for their clients.
The Code of Criminal Procedure allows defendants who remain in jail 90 days and who are not indicted the right to ask for personal recognizance bonds or reduced bonds that they can make. Most of the bikers had been freed within the 90 days, so the issue only applied in a few cases.
But attorneys for defendants not indicted within 180 days can file motions asking that all charges be dismissed and that all bond conditions be removed, including curfews, ankle monitors and travel and association restrictions.
That does not preclude prosecutors from indicting defendants at the next grand jury session or subsequent meetings.
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna and his first assistant, Michael Jarrett, did not return messages seeking comment Thursday.
Attorneys for bikers have been critical of McLennan County officials over the way most every aspect of the case has been handled so far, including the mass arrests of the bikers on identical arrest warrant affidavits, the initial setting of $1 million bonds for each of them and the fact that a Waco police detective was randomly selected as a grand jury member and appointed foreman by a judge.
The grand jury over which the detective presided has since run its course and was replaced by the current grand jury, which includes a combat veteran as foreman and a Waco attorney as a member.
The new grand jury was seated Oct. 14. Prosecutors subpoenaed the president of the Bandidos motorcycle group’s Austin chapter to appear before the new grand jury but settled for his records from a motorcycle confederation instead.
Prosecutors sought documents from Jimmy Graves, a Bandido who also heads the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents, a coalition of motorcycle groups, according to Bill Smith, an attorney for the confederation.
Smith and Graves worked out an agreement with Jarrett to provide the documents requested in the subpoena, and he was not required to go before the grand jury.
“The prosecutor wanted documents about the Confederation of Clubs and Independents, how it was organized, what it is, minutes from meetings, things like that,” Smith said. “Those were given to the prosecutor, and there was no need to testify.”
Graves was on his way to Waco on May 17 but got caught in traffic on the way up from Austin and was not at Twin Peaks when the violence erupted, Smith said.
“The Confederation of Clubs and Independents abhors violence. It is a grassroots organization that has as its mission political, social, safety and awareness issues for motorcyclists and others on the road,” Smith told the Tribune-Herald last month.
“Since this all took place at a COC&I meeting, I’m sure they just want to know a little bit more about the COC&I and its function and what role, if any, it played in all of this. I have been to COC&I meetings throughout the country and there have never been any physical confrontations or even any verbal confrontations. Everyone is welcome.”