Several bikers clamored for speedy trials shortly after their arrests in the May 2015 Twin Peaks shootout.
However, because of the complexity of the cases, the number of defendants and the massive volume of evidence recovered from the scene that needed to be analyzed, those speedy trial demands proved somewhat unrealistic despite the relative quickness with which prosecutors obtained identical indictments against the bikers.
Prosecutors indicated recently that the state of the evidence should allow them to be ready to proceed with trials soon. They met with judges and defense attorneys recently to map out a tentative plan for trying the first few Twin Peaks defendants.
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna did not return a phone call to his office. His first assistant, Michael Jarrett, said he could not discuss pending cases.
Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court will preside over the first trial, set now to begin April 17, 23 months after the Twin Peaks shootout between rival biker groups left nine dead and two dozen wounded.
“In complex cases, it’s not uncommon for the trial to occur 18 months to two years after the alleged incident occurred,” 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson said.
After a month off to gauge the effect of publicity on the cases and to see if attorneys file motions to move the next trials out of McLennan County, Johnson is tentatively set to try the next Twin Peaks case in June. After that, the two judges will alternate trying a Twin Peaks case every month.
“It’s not like we had a shortage of cases before Twin Peaks came along,” Strother said. “It’s just the vagaries of the system, the complexity of the cases and the sheer volume that is present in the criminal justice system.”
In the two years since the shootout, attorneys for some of the 155 indicted bikers have sought dismissal of the charges, insisted on speedy trials, asked for a change of venue and tried to disqualify Reyna from handling the cases. So far, those efforts have not been successful, although Dallas attorney Clint Broden is appealing his failed effort to disqualify Reyna.
The first biker to stand trial likely will be Christopher Jacob Carrizal, his father, Christopher Julian Carrizal, or Jerry Edward Pierson, all Bandidos from Dallas. Stephenville attorney Landon Northcutt represents all three. He did not return phone messages to his office this week.
The seven bikers with tentative trial dates from June through December are either Bandidos or Cossacks, according to court records.
Reyna and Jarrett have told the judges they think the first case will take about two weeks to try.