McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna should be disqualified from prosecuting cases arising from the Twin Peaks biker shootout because he overstepped his authority by “commandeering” the investigation, a Houston attorney said Tuesday.
“There is a big difference between advising and commandeering,” attorney Abigail Anastasio said.
Anastasio represents Ray Nelson, 42, president of the Hill County Cossacks and one of 154 bikers indicted in the May 17, 2015, shootout at Twin Peaks in Waco that left nine bikers dead and more than 20 wounded.
She filed a motion Tuesday in Waco’s 54th State District Court seeking to disqualify Reyna and assistants Michael Jarrett and Mark Parker from prosecuting the Twin Peaks cases because she alleges they are potential witnesses because of the way Reyna inserted himself into the investigation on the evening of the shootout.
“They started calling the shots,” Anastasio alleged in a press conference after filing the motion. “They were the ones who determined the course of the investigation, what steps to be taken next, without law enforcement having a significant role in that.”
Reyna did not return messages Tuesday. Jarrett and Parker both declined comment on the motion.
No hearing date has been set for Judge Matt Johnson to consider the motion.
The motion alleges that Reyna arrived at the Waco Convention Center after the shootout and changed the scope of the investigation by insisting that everyone linked to the Cossacks, Bandidos or any of their support groups be arrested and charged with first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity.
Before Reyna and his assistants arrived, Waco police and other agencies had questioned, identified and processed a busload of bikers and released them from the Waco Convention Center. After Reyna arrived, the remaining bikers went to jail, the motion states.
“This interview with the district attorney’s office changed the scope and course of the investigation,” the motion alleges. “The decisions involved were made not by the law enforcement officers, but by the above prosecutors (and possibly others within that office). The affidavit supporting arrest was not written according to the facts noted by any individual officer, but by the district attorney’s office.”
Anastasio said she intends to call Reyna and possibly his assistants as witnesses because of their role in the case. That is why she is seeking their disqualification from prosecuting it.
“During the course of this investigation, the district attorneys, while they do have a right to advise law enforcement as to how to proceed in a case, took over the investigation in this case and overstepped their bounds,” she said.
“Defense attorneys have a right to inquire as to the course of the investigation in a case. If the person directing the course of the investigation is the prosecuting attorney, then I have a right to ask that person about that.”