Three Bikers Charged With Murder in Waco Shootout

May 9, 2018
By David Lee

WACO, Texas (CN) – A Texas grand jury indicted three members of the Bandidos motorcycle gang on murder charges Wednesday for their alleged role in a deadly 2015 restaurant shootout with rival Cossacks and police that killed nine and injured 20.

A McLennan County grand jury filed murder charges against Jeff Battey, Ray Allen and Glenn Walker – the first such charges in the case. Their attorneys did not immediately respond to requests for comment, according to The Associated Press.

Waco police say Battey and Allen were seen “triangulated” over deceased Cossacks member Matthew Smith. Ballistics evidence suggested Walker also fired his weapon, the AP reported.

The trio were among 38 remaining defendants who were re-indicted Wednesday. They were first indicted in 2015 or 2016 of engaging in organized criminal activity. The superceding indictments now include counts of murder, first-degree and second-degree rioting and tampering with physical evidence.

The dispute between the gangs was allegedly over the Cossacks wearing the “Texas” bottom rocker patches on their vests without permission from the Bandidos, who claim Texas as their territory.

The most noteworthy defendant to be re-indicted was Jacob “Jake” Carrizal, president of the Dallas Bandidos chapter. He is the only defendant to have gone to trial. A mistrial was declared in his case six months ago on three organized criminal activity charges.

Prosecutors unsuccessfully argued that Carrizal had prepared his bikers for violence before a biker coalition summit at the Twin Peaks restaurant, where the Cossacks were not invited.

Carrizal’s attorneys disagreed, arguing Cossacks started the shootout, showing up wearing bulletproof fests and ambushing the Bandidos before they could dismount.

The new indictments come one day after charges against 63 other bikers were dismissed. McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna said the dismissals were due to his office focusing on “more culpable” defendants, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.

In February, charges against 13 other bikers were also dismissed.

Defense attorneys argued at the time the dismissals were to prevent politically damaging testimony against Reyna leading up to March’s Republican primary election. His office has dismissed 117 of the 155 original indictments in the case.

From Courthouse News.

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Charges Dropped in Texas Biker Shootout Case

February 8, 2018
By David Lee

WACO, Texas (CN) – Texas prosecutors dropped criminal charges Thursday against 13 defendants in the deadly 2015 biker gang shootout at a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” in Waco, in another setback in the criminal prosecution of over 150 bikers that were initially charged.

The dismissals came hours before a hearing in the case of defendant Jorge Salinas, whose charges were among those dismissed. Salinas and several other defendants sought to have McClellan County District Attorney Abel Reyna disqualified from handling their case, alleging corruption.

Defense attorneys and Barry Johnson, Reyna’s opponent in next month’s Republican primary election, have said Reyna wanted to avoid the disqualification hearing where politically damaging testimony could be given about him, the Waco Tribune-Herald reported. The hearing is now cancelled.

Prosecutor Michael Jarrett told two state district judges that Reyna also intends to refuse seven more cases against bikers who have yet to be indicted.

Reyna also agreed to recuse himself in the case against biker Billy McRee. McClellan County Judge Ralph Strother said he plans to ask Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s prosecutorial assistance division to take over that case.

“While probable cause for the defendant’s arrest and prosecution remains based on continued investigation, the state is exercising its prosecutorial discretion in dismissing this matter in order to focus its efforts and resources on co-defendants with a higher level of culpabilities,” Jarrett’s motions to dismiss state.

Salinas’ attorney, Brian Bouffard of Fort Worth, said Thursday that Reyna “arrested, charged and indicted a very large number of these men for purely political reasons, apparently without any intent to take them to trial.”

Reyna steadfastly denied Thursday that the dismissals were motivated by politics. He said more cases may be dismissed, while others would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

“This decision should not be viewed as folding or giving up by any means,” he said at a press conference. “Rather, this is an effort to narrow in on those more culpable without expending your precious judicial resources on lower level gang members.”

Reyna also denied accusations he showed favoritism to his friends and supporters.

The violent May 2015 shootout between the rival Cossacks and Bandidos biker gangs killed nine and left 20 injured. Thursday’s dismissals come three months after the mistrial of Bandidos leader Jacob “Jake” Carrizal on two organized criminal activity charges.

Carrizal had faced up to life in state prison and has so far been the only defendant to have gone to trial.

The prosecution in his case was dogged by complaints that police failed to timely turn over new audio interview evidence to the defense, who claimed the evidence disproved the prosecution’s assertion that the dispute was over the Cossacks wearing the “Texas” bottom rocker on its patches without permission from the Bandidos.

From Courthouse News.

Biker’s Testimony Leads to Waco Shootout Mistrial

November 13, 2017
By David Lee

WACO, Texas (CN) – A Texas judge declared a mistrial Friday in the case of the Dallas leader of the Bandidos motorcycle gang involved in a deadly 2015 shootout with rival Cossacks at a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” that killed nine and injured 20.

Halfway through their second day of deliberations, the McLennan County jury convinced state District Judge Matt Johnson they were hopelessly deadlocked in the case against Jacob “Jake” Carrizal, 35, of Dallas. He was charged on two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of directing organized criminal activity. More than 150 people were charged after the shooting, with Carrizal being the first to go to trial. He faced up to life in state prison.

The jury first informed Johnson they were deadlocked as early as Thursday evening, where they spent sequestered at a hotel. The judge urged them to continue. They again informed Johnson they were deadlocked by lunchtime on Friday, a county holiday for Veterans Day.

Dressed in a dark blazer and light blue shirt, the heavily-tattooed and bearded Carrizal hugged his supporters and family members as the mistrial was announced.

Prosecutors declined to comment on the mistrial afterwards. Carrizal remains free on bond as they considered if and when they will retry the case.

Carrizal’s attorney, Casie Gotro, of San Antonio, credited her client testifying on his own behalf for swaying the jurors against conviction.

“Jake took the stand and the jury loved hearing from him,” she said afterward. “The evidence was insufficient for a conviction.”

During the five-week long trial, prosecutors portrayed Carrizal as getting his bikers ready for violence before a biker coalition summit at the Waco restaurant where the Cossacks were not invited. They called witnesses who testified he told fellow Bandidos to bring their guns, to not travel alone, to leave their women at home and to not tolerate disrespect. They argued the dispute was over the Cossacks wearing the “Texas” bottom rocker patches on their vests without permission from the Bandidos, who claim Texas as their territory.

Gotro flatly disagreed, arguing that it was the Cossacks who started the shootout, that they showed up wearing bulletproof vests and ambushed the Bandidos before they could dismount their motorcycles.

During two days of testimony in his own defense, Carrizal steadfastly denied that he is a criminal or that he is a member of a criminal gang. He downplayed the tough guy persona assumed by bikers that raises the suspicions of law enforcement and the general public, saying the lifestyle is more of a lifelong brotherhood. He noted how the Bandidos often holds charity toy runs for children.

Carrizal denied allegations that he was the one who started shooting, saying he only began shooting in self defense. A former Twin Peaks employee testified last month that the shooting started when a man in a “big yellow helmet” pulled a large “Dirty Harry” gun and shot a biker in front of him. Carrizal’s brother, Chuck Carrizal, later testified his brother owned a yellow biker helmet.

Carrizal admitted under cross-examination by Assistant McLennan County District Attorney Michael Jarrett that he was wearing a yellow helmet, but that there was at least one other person there with a yellow helmet.

He also admitted to lying to police at first about his helmet and about being armed, claiming he was afraid for himself and still coming to terms with what happened.

Carrizal’s defense only lasted three days after Gotro repeatedly complained that prosecutors and law enforcement deliberately failed to turn over evidence. Judge Johnson was forced to recess trial for several days on Nov. 1 after Waco police produced new audio interview evidence. In subsequent motions for continuance and for the charges to be dropped, Gotro argued the new evidence shows the “Texas” bottom rockers were not the cause of the shootout and that it changed how she would have cross-examined prosecution witnesses.

From Courthouse News.

Biker Tells Jury He Acted in Self-Defense at Waco Shootout

November 8, 2017
By David Lee

WACO, Texas (CN) – An emotional Dallas leader of the Bandidos motorcycle gang testified on his own behalf Tuesday in a case over a deadly shootout with rivals, denying he is part of a criminal gang and claiming he fired in self-defense.

Jacob Carrizal, the first biker to be prosecuted for his alleged role in the May 17, 2015, Twin Peaks shootout heads to court Wednesday Oct.11, 2017, in Waco, Texas. (Jerry Larson/Waco Tribune-Herald via AP)

Jacob “Jake” Carrizal, 35, of Dallas, is charged with two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of directing organized criminal activity in the violent shootout with the Cossacks gang at a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” in Waco on May 17, 2015. Nine bikers died and 20 were injured.

More than 150 people were charged in the aftermath of the shootout. Carrizal is the first to go to trial. He faces up to life in state prison if convicted.

Carrizal told his attorney, Casie Gotro, under direct examination Tuesday that he only shot Cossack member Jacob Rhyne because Rhyne pointed a gun at him. Rhyne later died from his injuries. He said the dispute started when his group of Bandidos tried to park at the restaurant and Cossacks surrounded them and said they could not park there.

Carrizal said he was surprised so many Cossacks were at the biker coalition meeting, and that the Cossacks are not members. He blamed the Cossacks showing up uninvited for causing the violence.

“I was surrounded,” he said. “Not just a few, there were dozens.”

Carrizal said punches were soon thrown and he tried to get away while his helmet’s face shield was being torn away. He said the Cossacks tried to punch him with brass knuckles.

“I was in the middle of a pile,” he said. “I remember waiting for a knife to go into me or a bullet to hit me. I knew I was fighting and I knew it was coming.”

Carrizal defended the Bandidos, saying the group does not condone violence and it often performs charity toy runs. He described the Bandidos as more of a lifelong brotherhood, admitting he had violated conditions of his bond to speak with other Bandidos.

“I am being judged by everyone in here and everyone on that camera,” he said. “I can expect no mercy from society, I am a Bandido and I looked like a criminal so I expect no mercy from anyone else.”

Prosecutors argue the dispute between the motorcycle gangs that sparked the shootout revolved around the Cossacks starting to wear “Texas” bottom rocker patches on their vests without permission from the Bandidos, who claim the state as their territory.

Carrizal said that after he got away from the pile, he found his wounded father, fellow Bandido Christopher Carrizal, and broke down as his father told him to take care of his family.

Carrizal also admitted under direct examination that he lied to police about not having a gun because he had never been in trouble with the law before. He credited police present at the restaurant for opening fire when the shooting started, saying they saved lives – including his, twice.

Assistant McLennan County District Attorney Michael Jarrett criticized Carrizal’s testimony about the Bandidos’ charitable work, asking him on cross-examination how many toy runs would make up for the nine deaths during the shootout.

Carrizal’s testimony will continue on Wednesday, with the jury expected to begin deliberations by the end of the week. It comes at the end of a tumultuous week where his attorney accusedprosecutors of illegally withholding evidence through the trial.

From Courthouse News.

Texas Judge Won’t Drop Charges in Biker Shootout Trial

October 7, 2017
By David Lee

WACO, Texas (CN) – A Texas judge refused Monday to drop charges against a Dallas leader of the Bandidos motorcycle gang after defense attorneys argued the prosecution had been intentionally withholding evidence in the case over a restaurant shootout that killed nine bikers.

McLellan County District Court Judge Matt Johnson rejected the motion by Casie Gotro, attorney for Jacob “Jake” Carrizal, 35, of Dallas, who is charged with two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of directing organized criminal activity in the violent shootout with the rival Cossacks gang at a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” in Waco on May 17, 2015. Nine bikers died and 20 were injured.

Gotro’s request came five days after the judge abruptly recessed the trial due to new audio evidence turned over hours earlier by police. Johnson granted a defense motion for continuance on Nov. 1 so Gotro could identify a police officer speaking during the recorded interview.

The prosecution rested its case minutes before the recess was ordered. The judge had given police until Nov. 3 to turn over any remaining evidence to the defense despite concerns about privileged information within the statements.

Prosecutors contend the dispute between the motorcycle gangs that sparked the shootout revolved around the Cossacks starting to wear “Texas” bottom rocker patches on their vests without permission from the Bandidos, who claim the state as their territory.

More than 150 people were charged in the aftermath of the shootout. Carrizal is the first to go to trial. He faces up to life in state prison if convicted.

Gotro argued Monday the newly revealed police recordings with a Cossack member indicate the dispute had nothing to do with the “Texas” patches.

Before she began Carrizal’s defense, Gotro complained the withheld recordings with biker Mark White, who is also awaiting trial, would have changed how she cross-examined prosecution witnesses presented during the first three weeks of trial.

“This district attorney’s office, including [prosecutors Michael] Jarrett and [Amanda] Dillon and [McLennan County District Attorney Abel] Reyna, are sitting in a room when witnesses two and a half years ago are making exculpatory statements,” Gotro told the courtroom without the jury present. “They say they don’t have possession of the recordings, but they had actual knowledge of the contents of the recording and I’m happy to recite page and verse of the witnesses and the statements that they made that should have prevented the state from sponsoring the testimony of all three of their ‘experts’ and would have materially changed my cross-examination.”

Prosecutor Jarrett frowned and looked back into the gallery during Gotro’s request before repeatedly objecting to her statements. The confrontation boiled over when Gotro accused prosecutors of being “unethical” and “criminal.”

Judge Johnson told Gotro she would have the opportunity to cross-examine prosecution witnesses again. When asked for a second continuance, the judge gave Gotro 45 minutes before calling her first witnesses.

Yvonne Reeves, the mother of killed Cossack Richard Jordan, wept as she gave emotional testimony about how she found out on the phone that her son was shot. She said the Cossacks were not looking for a fight when they appeared at Twin Peaks, echoing the defense’s argument.

The defense also called Waco police detective Jeff Rodgers, who was present during the interviews with White. He testified the dispute started when Carrizal arrived at the restaurant and that the Bandidos felt disrespected by the Cossacks taking over the patio of the restaurant.

From Courthouse News.

New Evidence Appears in Waco Biker Shootout Trial

November 2, 2017
By David Lee

WACO, Texas (CN) – An apologetic judge on Wednesday recessed the trial of a Dallas leader of the Bandidos motorcycle gang for the rest of the week, citing new audio evidence turned over by police.

“I am sincerely sorry for the delay, but it is unavoidable,” state District Judge Matt Johnson told jurors. “We have to make sure the trial is tried correctly and in accordance with all the rules.”

Jacob “Jake” Carrizal, 35, of Dallas, is charged with directing organized criminal activity in the violent shootout with the rival Cossacks gang at a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” in Waco on May 17, 2015. Nine bikers died and 20 were injured.

More than 150 defendants were charged. Carrizal is the first to go to trial. He faces up to life in state prison if convicted.

The judge granted defense attorney Casie Gotro’s motion for a continuance due to an audio recording of an interview the attorney received from Waco police Wednesday morning. She told the judge the identity of one of the police officers is unknown.

“This recording contains statements that are inconsistent with what the state’s theory has been thus far, your honor,” Gotro said. “I need to know who that law enforcement official was that was present during the statements.”

After listening to the interview and two other recordings police turned over Wednesday, Johnson ordered the city to disclose the identities of the officers. He also issued a protective order to keep the identities and contents of the recordings private.

“I find a reasonable probability exists that the information on the exhibits produced by the city could potentially give testimony necessary to a fair determination of guilt or innocence,” the judge said.

Hours earlier, the city had filed a motion for protective order, citing privilege.

“The court’s order is broad enough to include the identity of a person or persons who have furnished relevant or useful information which is protected by this privilege,” the motion states. “Release of this information would put those person or persons at risk, and would jeopardize future cooperation of sources and other law enforcement agencies.”

The recess came the day after the prosecution rested its case. It called several dozen witnesses in three weeks of testimony.

Prosecutors said Carrizal told other Bandidos to “bring their tools,” or guns, not to travel alone, to leave women at home and not to tolerate disrespect.

Waco police testified that the owner of the restaurant declined to cancel the biker event, saying nothing bad had happened at previous biker nights there.

Shaniqua Corsey, a former employee of the restaurant, testified earlier in the trial that the shooting started when a man in a “big yellow helmet” pulled a large pistol and shot a biker in front of him. Jake Carrizal’s brother, Chuck Carrizal, later testified that his brother owned a yellow motorcycle helmet, ABC-affiliate KTRE reported on Wednesday.

From Courthouse News.

Police Sergeant Describes How Waco Biker Carnage Began

October 18, 2017
By David Lee

WACO, Texas (CN) — A Waco police officer testified Tuesday that the owner of a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” declined to cancel a biker event where a deadly 2015 shootout broke out between the rival Cossacks and Bandidos motorcycle gangs.

Police Sgt. Stephen Drews testified that the owner said nothing bad ever happened during previous bike nights at the restaurant. He said police planned a large, visible presence at the restaurant as a deterrent for violence, but did not expect and were not prepared for the shootout.

“It looked like somebody took Cabela’s [hunting and fishing supplies] and turned it on end and shook it into the parking lot,” Drews testified. “There were so many knives, guns, clubs, you name it.”

Drews testified for the prosecution during the second week of the trial of Jacob “Jake” Carrizal, 35, of Dallas, in McClelland County Court.

Carrizal, a leader of the Dallas chapter of the Bandidos, is charged with directing the operations of a criminal gang, and two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity. The shootout on May 17, 2015 killed nine bikers and injured 20.

More than 150 people have been charged. Carrizal, the first to go to trial, faces up to life in state prison if convicted of all charges.

Tensions ratcheted up between the gangs when the Cossacks started wearing “Texas” bottom rocker patches on their vests without permission from the Bandidos, who claim the state as their territory.

Drews said police planned for the biker event with assurances that both gangs considered it foolish to have a violent confrontation in such a busy place on a Sunday afternoon. He testified that nothing happened between the two gangs until a column of Bandidos, led by Carrizal, rode into the parking lot. He said gunfire broke out seconds after hearing a fellow officer report heavy tension.

Prosecutors say Carrizal directed members to Waco and told them to be ready for a violent confrontation. A gang expert testified Monday that he saw evidence on Carrizal’s cellphone instructing members to “bring their tools,” or guns, not to travel alone, to leave women at home, not to tolerate disrespect and that “this is the life” they have chosen.

Carrizal’s attorneys disagree. They say the Cossacks instigated the shootout, that they showed up wearing bulletproof vests and ambushed the Bandidos before they could dismount their motorcycles.

From Courthouse News.