A Dallas lawyer representing two bikers arrested after the 2015 Twin Peaks shootout said his clients are innocent and he doesn’t need to wait until McLennan County prosecutors receive additional evidence from federal authorities before taking his clients to trial.
Clint Broden, who represents Matthew Clendennen and George Bergman, filed motions Monday renewing his demands for speedy trials for his clients.
Broden’s motions come on the heels of a statement from 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother, who told the Tribune-Herald on Friday that he doesn’t think the Twin Peaks cases can move forward until some kind of “resolution or understanding is reached regarding the situation with the federal indictment in San Antonio. It has effectively put a barrier between our ability to proceed with our cases. I don’t think the presence of a pending motion (for continuance) is what is causing the problem. It is the presence of the federal indictment out of San Antonio.”
U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin has told McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna that federal officials obtained information concerning the Twin Peaks cases during an investigation that led to the indictment of national Bandidos leaders in San Antonio. Durbin told Reyna he would not release the information until after the San Antonio cases are resolved.
Broden said Monday he has received three terabytes of information from prosecutors in the Twin Peaks cases and he doesn’t need to wait for the federal evidence. Both men are innocent and need to get on with their lives, he said.
“We don’t need the stuff from the federal case,” Broden said. “We have the evidence we need, and the most important thing is the video which shows Matthew Clendennen is innocent. As for Mr. Bergman, he just got to the place. Actually, he was on his way to the bathroom at Don Carlos when it all started. In the Clendennen case, with the video, we could have tried this case May 18 (2015).”
Clendennen was a member of the Scimitars motorcycle group, a Cossacks support group. Bergman was a member of the Desgraciados group, a Bandidos support club.
Judge Matt Johnson postponed the June 5 trial of Kyle Smith, a Cossack from Kilgore, last week based on a motion from Smith’s attorney, who asked for a postponement based on the unavailability of the federal evidence. No other motions have been filed to delay trials in Johnson’s or Strother’s courts, and officials say motions will be considered as they are filed, either to delay or for speedy trials.
Broden acknowledged that he likely will be asked by judges if he and his clients are waiving their rights to full discovery and are aware that by taking that step, they could be missing some evidence from federal authorities that could prove beneficial to their cases. Judges don’t want the cases overturned on appeal by other lawyers later alleging ineffective assistance of counsel for not waiting for all the evidence.
“Matthew Clendennen is an innocent person, falsely accused of a criminal offense,” Broden’s motion states. “What is more, the state is in possession of a video which proves Mr. Clendennen’s innocence. It is time for him to be exonerated so that he can move on with his life.”
In Bergman’s case, Broden writes that it is time to remove the “sword of Damocles hanging over” his case.
“There is conclusive evidence in the possession of the state that Mr. Bergman had just arrived at Twin Peaks on May 17, 2015, when the violence began and that he did not participate in the violence in any way. It is time for him to be exonerated so that he and his wife can move on with their lives,” Broden’s motion states.
Broden also charges in his motions that Reyna is delaying Clendennen’s and Bergman’s cases because both men are suing him for alleged civil rights violations in an Austin federal court and that those civil cases have been stayed until after the Twin Peaks criminal cases are resolved.
“Therefore, Mr. Reyna has a perverse incentive to delay this criminal case as long as possible, and waiting until the completion of the federal trial . . . could take Mr. Clendennen’s criminal case into the next decade,” the motion claims.
Reyna did not return a phone call Monday seeking comment.
The motions also claim that Reyna is not prepared to try the cases because he rushed them to a grand jury and “bamboozled” grand jurors into indicting them in the death of a 10th biker, when that person was not killed at Twin Peaks. Nine bikers were killed and dozens were injured in the shootout. Prosecutors have since acknowledged their error and said it would be corrected.
Clendennen’s trial is set for Oct. 9 in 54th State District Court, while Bergman’s is set for Nov. 7 in 19th State District Court.