McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna on Wednesday again dismissed cases involving Twin Peaks defendants before a hearing scheduled for Thursday.
Reyna announced at a press conference Wednesday morning that he intends to dismiss 13 Twin Peaks shootout cases and will refuse 24 others that had not been indicted. Judges Matt Johnson and Ralph Strother signed orders Wednesday afternoon dismissing the cases in their respective courts.
Reyna says that brings a total of 58 Twin Peaks cases that have been disposed out of 154 bikers who were indicted and 177 total who were arrested in the May 2015 shootout between rival biker gangs that left nine bikers dead and dozens injured.
The bikers’ cases dismissed are those for Raymond Hawes, Daniel Johnson, Edward Keller Jr., Jeremy King, Brian Logan, Robert Nichols, Anthony Shane Palmer, Victor Pizana, Clayton Reed, Sergio Reyes, Gregory Salazar, Seth A. Smith and Ricky Wycough.
Reyna said his office will refuse cases for Steven Walker, Jimmy Spencer, Bobby Samford, Julie Perkins, Morgan English, William English, Benjamin Matcek, Jimmy Smith, Bradley Terwilliger, Justin Waddington, Daryle Walker, Royce Vanvleck, Christopher Eaton, Brian Eickenhorst, Arley Harris, James Venable, Jeremy Ojeda, Kevin Rash, Richard Kreder, Owen Bartlett, Richard Dauley, Craig Rodahl, Walter Weaver and Michael Woods.
Reyna also announced that he will recuse his office in the case involving biker William Aikin.
Waco attorney Melanie Walker, who represents Seth S. Smith, said Smith is thrilled with Wednesday’s developments.
“I’m so happy for Mr. Smith that his case was finally dismissed,” Walker said. “He has lived under the shadow of these charges for almost three years, and he is hoping now to be able to try to put this behind him and move on.”
The dismissal list includes the names of 10 bikers that had hearings scheduled for Thursday in Judge Ralph Strother of Waco’s 19th State District Court. Those bikers had filed motions seeking to disqualify Reyna from handling their cases.
Those hearings will be canceled.
On Feb. 7, Reyna dismissed cases against 13 indicted bikers and officially refused the cases of eight others who were arrested but not indicted.
He dismissed or refused those cases on the same day as a hearing at which two bikers intended to seek his disqualification.
Reyna’s opponent in the Republican primary, Barry Johnson, and Twin Peaks attorneys charged that Reyna was dismissing cases before scheduled hearings merely to keep his former first assistant Greg Davis and others with potentially damaging testimony from testifying before the March 6 primary election.
Reyna denied Wednesday that the scheduled hearings had anything to do with his decision on the cases, which have been pending for 33 months.
Fort Worth attorney Brian Bouffard, who was set to participate in Thursday’s hearing, said he expected Reyna’s actions.
“The dismissals themselves aren’t surprising in the least, since anyone with two brain cells to rub together understands what Abel Reyna really wants here. He wants to avoid testifying under oath and having to face up to the people he calls ‘liars,’ but knows are truthful people who have far more personal integrity and sound professional judgment than he will ever hope to have,” Bouffard said.
“What’s surprising, I guess, is that he apparently thinks what he’s doing isn’t nakedly transparent. You would have to be a drooling partisan fool not to see this for exactly what it is. But Reyna certainly knows his core base, doesn’t he? But I hope and believe that the decent people in Waco will turn out and make better choices at the ballot box. Elections have consequences. The hard part, sadly, is to convince people they should actually care about other people. I don’t know how you teach that concept to people who missed it in kindergarten,” he said.
Johnson, Reyna’s Republican primary opponent, said Reyna is dismissing the cases to avoid answering for his “gross mishandling of these cases and dismissing other cases in exchange for political contributions.”
“His tenure as DA has been scandal after scandal and it is time for the citizens of McLennan County to vote Abel Reyna guilty,” Johnson said. “Enough is enough. How can he possibly look the voters of McLennan County in the eye and say this has nothing to do with politics when we are five days away from the Republican primary?
“All of these 58 cases were not all of a sudden bad. That means that these 58 cases were bad back in May of 2015 and he just did not investigate those cases before he filed them all, and a lot of people have gone through a difficult time because of his incompetence,” he said.
Editor’s note: Reyna announced the latest developments in the Twin Peaks cases in his office with local television stations. Rebecca Akins, Reyna’s administrative assistant, barred a Tribune-Herald reporter from entering the office and attending the press conference.