Prosecutorial Misconduct in Twin Peaks: Waco DA Dismisses and AG Refuses to Prosecute
Two weeks ago, Waco Top Prosecutor Abel Reyna recused himself from the prosecution of two cases in the Twin Peaks shootout and successfully moved for dismissal of all charges against another 13 defendants.
This happened on the same morning that there was a hearing scheduled on the corruption allegations filed against Reyna in his role as District Attorney of McLennan County. (These were Motions to Disqualify Reyna). After all this stuff happened, the public hearing didn’t go forward.
Remember now, these 13 cases have been filed of record and pending against these defendants for almost three years now. Poof! They’re gone.
Allegations of Prosecutorial Misconduct by District Attorney
There are some serious allegations that the Waco DA has done (or is doing) bad things. We discussed the affidavit filed by Reyna’s former first assistant, Greg Davis, in an earlier post.
Former Waco Assistant DA Davis’ Affidavit
In short, Greg Davis quit his job as prosecutor for the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office back in 2014. Greg Davis then signed a sworn affidavit explaining his position: he had to resign from the DA’s Office down in Waco because of the prosecutorial misconduct that was happening there.
For details, read our earlier post entitled “Prosecutorial Misconduct By Waco District Attorney Alleged By His First Assistant.” It’s worth noting that Davis isn’t a newbie: he’s a lawyer with decades of criminal law experience behind him.
Additional information concerning Greg Davis’ concerns can be found in the article written by Tommy Witherspoon and published by the Waco Tribune-Herald on November 10, 2017, entitled “Affidavit Alleges Reyna Dismissed Cases For Friends, Campaign Donations.”
There’s more. Another sworn affidavit signed by another former Waco prosecutor also alleges bad acts by the current District Attorney.
Former Waco Assistant DA Scaramucci’s Affidavit
Like Davis’ affidavit, the affidavit of former McLennan County prosecutor Brittany Scaramucci was filed as an incorporated exhibit to motions filed in pending Twin Peaks shootout cases. The Scaramucci Affidavit is part of the record in proceedings against bikers Jorge Daniel Salinas and Billy Jason McCree as part of their defense motions to compel the District Attorney’s Office to turn over evidence.
Brittany Scaramucci’s sworn testimony states in 2014, one of her clients informed an agent for the Federal Bureau of Investigation that “… he personally delivered cocaine for Reyna’s use.”
She also provides sworn testimony that DA Reyna set up a special prosecutor in cases that the Waco DA was recused “… for the purposes of facilitating politically based dismissals on behalf of Reyna.”
For more on the Scaramucci Allegations, read “Affidavit Alleges Man Delivered Cocaine To DA Reyna,” written by Tommy Witherspoon and published by the Waco Tribune-Herald on December 7, 2017.
DA’s Explanation: Prosecutorial Discretion
So what’s the DA’s story? In each motion filed to dismiss the Twin Peaks cases, there appears the following statement, explaining all these dismissals as being based on the prosecutor’s discretion:
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 culpability.”
Texas Attorney General’s Office Declines Invitation to Prosecute
Also this month, we’ve learned that the Office of the Texas Attorney General is not going to take the reins of the prosecution in a case where McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna recused his office from last week.
Seems that Twin Peaks shootout defendant Billy Jason McRee (a member of the Cossacks biker gang) has the Honorable Judge Ralph Strother down in Waco presiding over the case. Judge Strother invited the Texas Attorney General’s Office to take over prosecution after Reyna’s recusal.
They politely declined the invitation. Reasoning: no can do … “largely due to nine death penalty prosecutions the office is involved in that are set for trial this year.”
Other Bad Acts Alleged in the Twin Peaks Shootout Prosecutions
There’s more misconduct being alleged down in Waco, involving the District Attorney’s Office as well as the local police.
1. Civil Rights Cases By 100+ Defendants
For one thing, there are lots of cases seeking civil damages. Over 100 civil lawsuits have been filed by Waco bikers for wrongful arrest by law enforcement (most of the defendants who saw their cases dismissed this month have filed these cases alleging violation of their civil rights).
The civil rights cases are on hold by court order until all this criminal litigation is finalized. But Federal District Judge Sam Sparks has made public statements that he might reconsider the Stay if the Waco District Attorney didn’t move forward in prosecuting the cases.
2. Two of the Shooting Victims Killed by Police Bullets
And then there are the underlying facts of the shootout itself. Media reports are that ballistics reveals that four of the bikers who were shot at Twin Peaks were hit by police officers. Two of the men who were shot by police bullets died.
There was a grand jury investigation of the police here, and the case was no-billed. And the internal police investigation failed to bring charges against the three officers.
3. Speedy Trial Concerns
The Twin Peaks shootout happened almost three years ago. And to date, only one defendant has had a criminal trial. That is Dallas Bandido president Christopher “Jake” Carrizal. And Mr. Carrizal’s trial back in November ended up in a mistrial.
4. Political Motivation and/or Incompetence Opines Waco Tribune Editorial
On February 10, 2018, the Waco Tribune-Herald published its own editorial about the Twin Peaks shootout prosecutions, entitled “EDITORIAL: DA Reyna’s desperate acts betray his true instincts.”
In it, the local newspaper wonders at the actions of McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna, pointing out the following:
“Reyna is credited with hijacking a Waco police murder investigation in 2015 and throwing 177 bikers in jail on dubious organized-crime charges and million-dollar bonds, then pressing for 155 indictments. As other county officials’ fears have mounted about potentially costly lawsuits over trampled civil rights and a half-million dollars in security for just the first Twin Peaks trial — a mistrial — Reyna didn’t budge in his supposedly tough DA convictions.
“Now he draws political opponents from all corners, including a fellow Republican who doesn’t balk at insisting what too many others hesitated to say: Whether from political aspirations, incompetence or both, Reyna has bungled the Twin Peaks cases from the very start. In past weeks he has quite obviously sought to block disqualification hearings and squelch damning testimony by former prosecutors and law enforcement officials about what they say are politically driven acts by Reyna such as quashing unrelated prosecution cases for campaign donors and friends and ties to illegal gambling.”
Prosecutorial Misconduct in Texas
Remember, prosecutorial wrongdoing can result in innocent people going to jail as well as prison, or even being executed for something they did not do. Imagine if you had a loved one with pending felony charges hanging over their heads for three years.
And it’s a huge problem here in Texas. Waco isn’t the only place where the top prosecutor does bad things. See:
- Texas Prosecutor on Trial for Prosecutorial Misconduct
- Prosecutorial Misconduct in Texas: Continuing Injustice
- Prosecutorial Misconduct Rules Issued by Texas Supreme Court: Where is Michael Morton’s Prosecutor, Ken Anderson, Now?
- Prosecutorial Misconduct Still a Big, Big Problem: District Attorneys Do Bad Things
- District Attorneys Keep Doing Bad Things: More Texas Prosecutorial Misconduct Stories.
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