Dallas attorney Clint Broden alleges in a motion in the case of his client, Twin Peaks biker Matthew Clendennen, that McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna is under federal investigation for selective prosecution for political gain.
Broden filed motions Friday morning questioning Reyna’s credibility as a prosecutor in the Twin Peaks shootout cases, saying the district attorney made decisions on which defendants to prosecute based on his political interests.
“On Oct. 18, 2017, the defense received what appears to be very credible information indicating that Reyna has been, and may continue to be, under investigation by the Austin division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas,” the motion states.
“The information received by the defense also indicates that at least one aspect of the federal investigation goes directly to Reyna’s credibility and his making decisions whether to prosecute or not prosecute individuals based upon what he perceives to be his political interest.”
FBI Special Agent Michelle Lee said the bureau could neither confirm nor deny an investigation.
However, a local attorney who formerly worked as an assistant district attorney under Reyna said the FBI is conducting a “multi-level” investigation into alleged misconduct by Reyna. The attorney, who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said they have a client who was questioned about Reyna by federal agents.
Reyna, who has been prosecuting the first Twin Peaks shootout case along with prosecutor Michael Jarrett, declined to comment when asked by the Tribune-Herald about the motion Friday.
Friday’s filing and investigation reports come on the heels of several motions in which Broden claims Clendennen is being denied his right to a fair and speedy trial.
Clendennen, a former member of the Scimitars motorcycle group, was one of 177 bikers arrested in the May 17, 2015, shootout at the former Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco between rival biker groups — the Bandidos and Cossacks — that left nine dead and more than a dozen injured. He is currently scheduled to be the second Twin Peaks biker to be tried, with a trial date set for next month.
Broden has tried to disqualify Reyna and has filed subsequent motions to request the court order sanctions against the state for continual delays and force the state to turn over “reasonable” evidence and witness lists before the Nov. 6 trial date.
Reyna has allegedly consulted with criminal defense counsel in connection to the investigation, Broden states in the motion.
“Most importantly, it has been indicated that one or more currently serving assistant district attorneys has/have met with federal authorities for the purpose of providing information that would indicate Reyna does, in fact, make decisions whether to prosecute or not prosecute individuals based on what he perceives to be his political interest,” the motion continues.
Broden stated that his defense team was informed within the past month of the FBI probe into Reyna’s duties. Additionally, he pointed to a quote by Reyna’s former first assistant, Greg Davis, that appeared in a 2014 Tribune-Herald article as seeming to support his claim that Reyna selectively prosecutes cases.
“It is reported that Davis states publicly, when referring to Mr. Reyna, ‘I wanted no part of a two-tiered justice system in which a favored few receive special preferential treatment. It’s wrong and contrary to the basic belief that I’ve always held as a prosecutor that a person’s connections and status in the community should not determine how they’re treated in the criminal justice system,’” the motion states.
Davis declined Friday to comment on the possible FBI investigation, and reiterated his previous statement to the Tribune-Herald.
“I’m not at liberty to comment on Mr. Broden’s allegations regarding a possible investigation,” Davis said in an email. “As I stated before, I’m opposed a two-tiered justice system in which some defendants receive preferential treatment because of their relationship with the prosecutor, wealth, or status in the community. That type of favoritism has no place in prosecution or the criminal justice system.”
In a separate motion, Broden has also requested a court of inquiry to determine if Reyna or Waco police Detective Manuel Chavez lied under oath during a hearing last year in preparation for Twin Peaks cases.
Reyna testified to getting “a lot of input” from Chavez — the lead detective at the Twin Peaks scene on May 17, 2015 — in telephone conversations before Chavez signed the identical, “fill-in-the-name” arrest warrant affidavits for 177 motorcyclists after the shootout.
Chavez, however, directly contradicted Reyna’s testimony, stating under oath that he never spoke to Reyna that night before signing the affidavits.
Meanwhile, Austin attorney Millie Thompson, who represents biker Thomas Paul Landers, a founding member of the Escondido motorcycle group who was also arrested following the Twin Peaks shootout, filed a motion to quash Landers’ indictment Friday, alleging similar prosecutorial misconduct by Reyna.
Broden also on Friday filed a supplement to a motion asking the court to order the state to show cause as to why the state has not complied with discovery motions. Broden requested the court impose fines on the prosecutors for disregarding court orders before his client’s trial.
The state “simply ‘blew off’ the court’s orders,” Broden states in the supplemented motion regarding providing the discovery documents. He states prosecutors provided his client with a witness list of about 401 names and exhibit lists on Thursday, but the lists are not considered “realistic,” Broden said in the motion.
“Frankly, the state’s purported witness and exhibit lists are completely useless, completely contrary to the purposes behind the order that it provide witness and exhibit lists in the first place, and even more contemptuous than not having filed lists at all,” the motion states.
Broden states that he does not believe the state has a reasonable expectation of presenting evidence against Clendennen on Nov. 6 and will most likely push for further continuances.
“Indeed, from all appearances, the state does not appear ready for trial and it certainly seems that the state has no intention of going to trial on this case on Nov. 6, 2017,” the motion states, referring to Clendennen’s current trial date.
Staff writer Tommy Witherspoon contributed to this report.