A judge declined to throw out an indictment Friday against a biker who saw his stepfather killed May 17 at Twin Peaks and claims to be a crime victim rather than a criminal defendant.
Houston attorney Paul Looney, who represents Cody Ledbetter, a member of the Cossacks group from Waco, also failed in his attempt Friday to have a trial date set for Ledbetter after asserting for the third time his client’s demand for a speedy trial.
Looney alleged that Ledbetter’s case should catapult to the top of Judge Ralph Strother’s 19th State District Court felony docket because Ledbetter is seeking a trial as soon as possible while no other defendants are making similar requests.
Michael Jarrett, McLennan County first assistant district attorney, argued that the local courts have systems and procedures in place and Ledbetter has no right to buck that system, putting his case ahead of others.
Jarrett also told the court that the investigation of the complex case by the DA’s office and state, federal and local authorities is still in “its infancy stage as far as being ready to go to trial.”
Jarrett said prosecutors have produced thousands of pages of discovery to defense attorneys but are still waiting for analysis of cellphone and ballistics evidence and the examination of thousands of biker Facebook posts, including ones by Ledbetter.
The delay in setting Ledbetter’s trial is causing him “serious and long-standing harm,” Looney told Strother. Looney characterized Ledbetter as a crime victim and said his indictment and wait for trial are preventing him from applying for state crime victim compensation because he saw his stepfather, Daniel “Diesel” Boyett, killed in the shootout at Twin Peaks.
Jarrett countered that it “flies in the face of justice” for Looney to refer to Ledbetter as a victim instead of a defendant.
“This is the first time in my career where the indictment or discovery documents don’t tell me what my client did that he is on trial for,” Looney said. “I don’t know what conduct he is being charged with.”
Jarrett argued that the indictments, which charge 106 bikers with first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity, with underlying offenses of murder and aggravated assault, track the language of the statute and are legally sufficient to allege an offense.
Jarrett said the bikers are being charged with being members of a criminal street gang and attending the meeting of a biker coalition as a show of force.
Strother denied the motion to quash the indictment, saying that the cases represent the aftermath of a unique, complicated and complex series of events. The judge also conceded that the identical 106 indictments were “not crafted as a matter of literary art,” but are legally sufficient.
The term of the McLennan County grand jury that returned the 106 indictments Nov. 10 was extended by 90 days on Dec. 17 to conclude its investigation into the deadly shootout.
No date has been set for the grand jury to return.