McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna asked Thursday to be recused from the second trial scheduled in the Twin Peaks biker shootout and asked the court to appoint another attorney to represent the state in the upcoming Nov. 6 trial.
Reyna filed a voluntary recusal request after he was served with a subpoena Wednesday to testify in the trial of Matthew Alan Clendennen, of Hewitt, who has been indicted on a charge of engaging in organized criminal activity in the May 17, 2015, shootout at the former Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. Nine men died and more than a dozen were injured in the melee.
“The state stands by its assertion that Mr. Reyna and his assistants are not material witnesses,” Reyna’s request states. “However, Mr. Reyna, Mr. Jarrett and Mr. Parker previously testified during a hearing in this particular case. This court could potentially consider that specific testimony material to defendant’s case. Given the possibility of creating such an issue in this particular case, the state wishes to avoid even the mere suggestion of impropriety.”
Clendennen’s Dallas attorney, Clint Broden, filed motions last week alleging Reyna is under federal investigation for selective prosecution for political gain. Prosecutors state in the motion that Reyna and his office are “unaware of any pending federal investigation.”
Broden filed a motion to have Reyna recused from Clendennen’s case in August 2016, but a judge quashed that motion. Included among several motions Broden filed last week was a motion to reconsider his request to recuse Reyna, citing the alleged federal investigation.
Another motion Broden filed last week states prosecutors have not complied with discovery requirements and should be assessed fines for disregarding court orders before his client’s upcoming trial. It was not immediately clear how Reyna’s recusal request may affect Broden’s requested sanctions, if at all.
Broden declined comment on Reyna’s recusal request after Senior Judge Doug Shaver, of Houston, issued a gag order Monday, barring communication with media outlets regarding Clendennen’s case. He filed a response to the recusal request, stating he plans to provide evidence in a hearing Monday that Reyna is under federal investigation.
Testimony from six witnesses will be introduced as evidence in an effort to show FBI agents have been investigating Reyna, the motion states.
Reyna is currently prosecuting Jacob Carrizal, the Bandidos’ Dallas chapter president, who is the first of 154 defendants in the Twin Peaks shootout to stand trial. Reyna did not respond to a message left Thursday.
It wasn’t immediately known Thursday when a new prosecutor would be assigned in the Clendennen case or how the appointment of a new prosecutor may affect the upcoming trial.
Broden’s recusal response states Reyna’s former first assistant, Greg Davis, can testify to conversations that the DA’s office “made” police arrest 177 motorcyclists despite the wishes of police. The response also claims a local attorney can testify that they had meetings with federal investigators about allegations Reyna had cases dismissed for friends and campaign contributors and even that Reyna was delivered cocaine during his actions connected to the Twin Peaks case.
“How strange is it that after denying that there is a federal investigation and various witnesses were subpoenaed that he recuses himself,” Waco attorney Robert Callahan said. “That is not coincidence, and I am assuming that the average tax payer is not so naive as to think that with all this smoke there really is no fire.”
Callahan, who is representing Twin Peaks defendant William Chance Aikin, of Talco, said he plans to file similar motions in regard to evidence that Reyna is under investigation and should be recused from prosecuting Twin Peaks cases. He said he will also call Reyna as a witness during Aikin’s trial.
Reyna has not testified in any hearing in Aikin’s case, as he has in Clendennen’s.
“There is ample evidence in these prior hearings that Mr. Reyna, instead of allowing law enforcement to do their jobs, was going to insert himself into the investigative process and that he became a witness,” Callahan said. “He went beyond mere investigation and he basically became the chief of police. Since he took on that responsibility, he has to live with the consequence of coming to the witness stand.”
Callahan said he thinks other attorneys defending bikers indicted in Twin Peaks cases will attempt to disqualify Reyna and his office.