A Georgetown biker, who was frustrated after his trial date was passed over last month in favor of another Twin Peaks defendant, got a new trial date Friday, but it’s four months later than he wanted.
Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court denied a request Friday from Millie Thompson, an attorney for Thomas Paul Landers, to reinstate his trial date in July and instead set it for Nov. 2.
Landers, 60, a founding member of the Escondido motorcycle group and an active motorcyclists’ rights advocate, is among 155 bikers indicted on first-degree felony charges of engaging in organized criminal activity, with underlying offenses of murder and assault.
Landers had been set for trial in July. However, at a hearing last month, prosecutors made it clear they want Jacob Carrizal, of Dallas, a member of the Bandidos group, to be the first of the Twin Peaks bikers to go to trial. Strother went along with them, setting a Sept. 11 trial date for Carrizal.
Unfortunately for Landers, that bumped him from his July trial setting, as prosecutors continue to receive evidence from analysts and deliver it to defense attorneys. Strother and 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson have agreed to try biker cases on an alternating monthly basis. So Strother set a Nov. 2 trial date for Landers.
Matthew Clendennen, of Hewitt, a member of the Scimitars group, is set for trial in 54th State District Court on Oct. 9.
“We asked for a July trial setting in February, your honor,” Thompson said. “We were supposed to be the backup trial to Carrizal if that fell through. How did we end up without a trial setting in July?”
“Because the court took it away from you,” Strother replied.
Thompson called the system unfair and said she is considering appealing the judge’s orders.
“I think that they are right,” Thompson said after the 20-minute hearing. “Judges and the courts do have discretion over their trial dockets. There is a problem, however, when the state in any way dictates what that order is going to be. There is case law on that.”
Thompson said the case has been hanging over Landers’ head for more than two years now, and every delay increases his anxiety level and that of his family.
“You lose sleep. Everyone loses sleep,” Thompson said. “They are not sleeping regularly like you are, plus the effect it has on their family. What does chronic anxiety do to people?
“They rushed to arrest these people. They rushed to set outrageously high bonds and kept them in jail for weeks, and they rushed to indictment. Now, it is complicated about who they actually want to try, and they are letting one particular defendant out of 150-something decide the order of trial. It doesn’t seem fair.”
Landers, a board member of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists and chairman of its legislative task force, has said previously that he arrived at Twin Peaks on May 17, 2015, prepared to give an update about the recent legislative session to the Texas Confederation of Clubs and Independents.
Landers said he and his groups, which include veterans, Christians and service-oriented groups, have worked closely with the Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Department of Transportation, legislators and other agencies about issues relating to bikers.