All of the remaining cases against bikers in the Twin Peaks case are being dropped.
This comes after only one case went to trial and ended in a mistrial. The announcement came on Tuesday from McLennan County District Attorney Barry Johnson in a two-and-a-half page statement.
Part of the decision to throw away the remaining cases was the cost. According to the District Attorney’s Office, the Carrizal Trial cost McLennan County taxpayers over $1.5 million – a cost they say they do not want to rack up again with the remaining cases.
Johnson tells FOX44 that there was not enough evidence to try some of these cases. He also says some of the cases could not be brought to trial because of the statute of limitations on their charges. It was just within the last few days that the D.A.’s Office determined these cases were not going to stick, and the office thought it would be in the best interest for everyone to drop the cases.
“Then there would be a waxing and waning, where we said, we need to dismiss this cases. But ultimately, we had to make this difficult decision and that was that. It’s best for the voters, best for the citizens of McLennan County. Although it is a tragic loss of life and was a tragedy that happened out there that day, that it’s best to dismiss it and put this in our past,” Johnson says.
With the evidence they have or lack thereof, they will not retry Jacob Carrizal.
The statement as issued by Johnson is presented here in its entirety:
“I was sworn into office as the elected Criminal District Attorney of McLennan County on January
1, 2019, approximately 90 days ago.
During my campaign I was critical of the manner in which the prior District Attorney had conducted
the prosecution of the criminal offenses arising from the May 17, 2015, public violence between
rival motorcycle clubs which took place at the Twin Peaks restaurant located at the Texas Central
Marketplace shopping center. This brawl resulted in 9 deaths and at least 20 serious injuries. All
of the deaths and injuries were confined to the bikers who had gathered at Twin Peaks on that day.
Fortunately, there were no uninvolved persons or residents of McLennan County who were
physically injured by this public violence.
There were approximately 200 members of rival motorcycle gangs and their support groups, as well
as some independent bikers, involved in the incident at Twin Peaks. A majority were members of
either the Banditos or Cossack motorcycle gangs. At the direction of the prior District Attorney, 177
bikers were arrested as members of criminal street gangs. 155 were later indicted for the offense of
engaging in organized criminal activity. All but 24 of those indictments had been dismissed before
I took office on January 1st of this year.
I agree that there was reasonable suspicion to support the detention, and sufficient evidence to
provide probable cause to support the arrest and the grand jury’s subsequent indictment of the 155
persons for the offense of engaging in organized criminal activity. It is after the initial indictment
of the 155 individuals that I disagree with the manner in which the prior District Attorney handled
Following the indictments, the prior District Attorney had the time and opportunity to review and
assess the admissible evidence to determine the full range of charges that could be brought against
each individual who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl, and to charge only those offenses where the admissible evidence would support a verdict of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In my opinion,
had this action been taken in a timely manner, it would have, and should have, resulted in numerous
convictions and prison sentences against many of those who participated in the Twin Peaks brawl.
Over the next three years the prior District Attorney failed to take that action, for reasons that I do
not know to this day.
When I assumed office on January 1st of 2019, the statute of limitations had already expired on most
of these offenses. While there may be legal argument that could be made to attempt to avoid the
effect of the statute of limitations, I do not believe those arguments would be successful. I believe
that any effort to charge and prosecute these individual charges at this time would only result in
further waste of time, effort and resources of the McLennan County judicial system and place a
further unfair burden on the taxpayers of McLennan County.
As District Attorney, when my office presents evidence to a jury in McLennan County, I know the
jurors will conscientiously perform their duties. Regardless of whether a jury renders a verdict of
guilty or not guilty, every member of the district attorney’s office appreciates their service as jurors
and will accept and respect their verdict, even though we may on occasion disagree with the verdict.
The McLennan County residents were gracious enough to elect me as their District Attorney to make
decisions on their behalf as to the prosecution of crimes occurring in McLennan County. I will not
in the Twin Peaks matter, nor in any case, instruct the excellent assistant district attorneys in my
office to proceed to trial on any case where I do not believe there is a very strong likelihood of the
evidence establishing the guilt of the person charged beyond a reasonable doubt.
My opinions as to what the prior District Attorney should have done in prosecuting the Twin Peaks
matter is of less importance than what the he did do. I assume that it was only after a thorough reevaluation of the evidence, following the sole Twin Peaks case which was tried over a period of
several weeks and resulted in a hung jury and a mistrial, that the prior District Attorney dismissed
all but 24 of the indictments for engaging in organized criminal activity arising from the Twin Peaks
incident. As a result, most of those participants in the Twin Peaks brawl were beyond the reach of
criminal prosecution by my office by the time I entered office on January 1st, 2019. Although the
remaining 24 individuals remain indicted on engaging in organized criminal activity, the prior
District Attorney’s office advised the Court that our office would not proceed with prosecution of
that charge, and I will respect that decision. The prior District Attorney did, however, re-indict the
remaining 24 individuals on a charge of riot.
Riot is a class B misdemeanor punishable by up to 180 days in jail. However, provisions within the
riot statute provide that, under certain circumstances, the offense can be increased to the
classification of any offense of a higher grade committed by anyone in the riot. Thus, it would be
possible for our offices to proceed to trial on these 24 individuals and seek to hold all 24 responsible
for the conduct of one or more other persons in order to elevate a class B misdemeanor to felony
offense which would carry much greater potential range of punishment.
I believe that should I elect to proceed with the prosecution of these 24 individuals on the charge of
riot, and should my office obtain guilty verdicts as to one or more individuals, there are a number
of assertions of error that will be raised on appeal after any such convictions. One such assertion is whether the re-indictment was in fact an amendment of the prior engaging in organized criminal
activity indictment. If such assertion were successful on appeal, all convictions obtained would
likely be set aside, and the expended resources of our judicial system, and more importantly, the
expended tax dollars of our McLennan County taxpayers, would have been wasted.
A separate assertion of error that could be made post conviction of any of the 24 individuals on the
riot charge would involve the use of the misdemeanor riot statute to obtain felony convictions up to
and including murder against these individuals. I believe that without doubt, should we obtain such
convictions, the use of the riot statute in this manner will be appealed. As to whether the appellate
courts will uphold such a use of the riot statute, I do not have the degree of confidence that I believe
necessary to justify the large expenditures of judicial and law enforcement time and resources, as
well as taxpayer dollars, over a period of the next several years, while running a significant risk of
having the convictions set aside at a time far in the future by an appellate court.
I do not believe that it is a proper exercise of my judgment as District Attorney to proceed with the
further prosecution of what I believe to have been an ill-conceived path that this District Attorney’s
Office was set upon almost four years ago by the prior District Attorney, and I do not believe that
path should continue to be pursued.
This is a difficult decision which must be made based on the existing facts and evidence in
accordance with the laws of this state and in the interest of justice, and not a decision that can be
made based on emotions or personal feelings or preferences.
As such, I am today announcing that I am instructing members of my office to prepare and file the
appropriate documents to dismiss all remaining indictments arising from the Twin Peaks incident
which are currently pending in McLennan County, Texas.”
In the shootout that occurred May 17, 2015, a total of nine people died and over 20 others received serious injuries.
“Just as overwhelming. I’ve been in tears most of the time,” says Attorney Paul Looney, who represents the families involved in those cases. He was very emotional about the decision.
“I think you can never fully repair what was done to them by various people in Waco,” says Attorney Clint Broden, who also represented those facing charges. “I mean, one is certainly happiness that this stage is over and sadness that it’s taken so long to get here.”