A biker indicted in the Twin Peaks shootout who was denied an early trial setting last month because prosecutors said they were not ready for trial is asking a Waco appeals court to order a judge to set a speedy trial date in his case.
Houston attorney Paul Looney, who represents Cody Ledbetter, a member of the Cossacks motorcycle group, filed a petition asking Waco’s 10th Court of Appeals to order 19th State District Judge Ralph Strother to set a trial date for Ledbetter.
Ledbetter, of Waco, is one of 106 bikers indicted in November on first-degree felony engaging in organized criminal activity charges, with underlying offenses of murder and aggravated assault. Prosecutors say those indicted are members of criminal street gangs who attended the May 17 meeting of a biker coalition at Twin Peaks as a show of force.
Nine bikers were killed, some shot by police, and dozens more were injured.
Looney unsuccessfully argued last month that the indictment against Ledbetter should be quashed because the language in the charging instrument is overly vague and not specific enough to inform defendants what they are accused of doing.
Looney then asked Strother to essentially move Ledbetter to the front of his already busy trial docket because he is ready to go to trial while others aren’t and the delay is causing Ledbetter “serious and long-standing harm.”
“I filed the petition to get Judge Strother to set a trial date and then we get to argue whether or not it was quick,” Looney said Friday. “The bottom line is the law says that when a defendant requests a trial, one of a speedy nature, he has the right to go ahead of others who are not making a similar request. That is a right. It is not something where he has to get lucky to get a speedy trial date. He has a right to a speedy trial date.”
At last month’s hearing, 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 witnessed his stepfather, Daniel “Diesel” Boyett, get killed in the shootout at Twin Peaks.
‘The only defendant’
“As far as I can tell, my client is the only defendant on the judge’s whole docket who is requesting a speedy trial, so yes, he should go first,” Looney said. “In my entire career, I have never had a judge deny a trial date when I asked for one. I don’t give a damn if the state is saying it is not ready. If they didn’t have their evidence in a condition for going to trial, then they should have waited to get an indictment.”
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna did not return phone messages seeking comment for this story.
Michael Jarrett, Reyna’s first assistant, argued last month that the local courts have systems and procedures in place and Ledbetter has no right to change the system by 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, DNA and ballistics evidence and the examination of thousands of biker Facebook posts, including ones by Ledbetter.
No date has been set for the Twin Peaks grand jury to return.