Jurors in first Twin Peaks trial express disappointment on mistrial

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On Monday, three McLennan County residents who served on the jury for the first Twin Peaks trial expressed disappointment about not being able to reach a unanimous verdict.

Christopher Jacob Carrizal, the president of the Dallas Chapter of the Bandidos, was the first biker to go on trial for the deadly shootout that left nine dead and dozens injured outside the Waco Twin Peaks restaurant in 2015. 

He was indicted on one count of directing activities of a criminal street gang and two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity.

It was the first time J.C. Crow and one man who only wanted to be known as Mr. Smith served on a jury.

"I felt in a way honored to serve my civic duty but at the same time it was a month away from work and life, regular life," Crow said.

Mr. Smith said he had concerns about serving in a high-profile case the first two days of the trial.

"Reservations about safety, security. How it would impact my daily life, as far as work and family." Smith."You hear the reputation of the motorcycle gangs and you don't know whether that is an issue when you serve in a high-profile case."

Both men and Sonya Guerrero, a juror who didn't want to go on camera, said they did not feel intimidated at any point while serving.

Crow, Smith, and Guerrero agreed Carrizal was not guilty of directing activities of a criminal street gang after deliberating for nearly 16 hours.

"The evidence suggested they were ready for a fight or ready to engage on the road, perhaps on the way there," Smith said. "We couldn't say the information that was provided would've promoted that activity. I had to see something more."

The 48-year-old said he was looking for additional evidence beyond text messages.

For Crow, 44, jurors were not presented with all the evidence needed to convict Carrizal on that count.

"The State did not, probably because they weren't able, but didn't present evidence that showed regular or continuous evidence of the Bandidos or the Dallas Chapter of the Bandidos, Crow said.

Crow and Smith also agreed on Carrizal being guilty on the third count of engaging in organized criminal activity involving aggravated assault.

"It was a challenge to determine if he acted in self-defense or if he made attempts to mitigate the events that were occurring," Crow said.

The only one both jurors disagreed on was the second count, which was engaging in organized criminal activity involving murder.

54th District Court Judge Matt Johnson declared a mistrial after members of the jury did not reach a unanimous verdict on any of the three counts.

Both Crow and Smith said one of the jurors who believed Carrizal was not guilty on all three counts had a negative perspective on the Cossacks. Both men believed the jury would have been able to reach a verdict if he was not a part of it.

"I felt we failed the system. I also felt very cheated that, that juror was allowed to be on the jury and that he prevented justice from happening," Crow said.

Guerrero who believed Carrizal was not guilty of any of the charges said deliberating was a very emotional process for the jury. 

"I felt like we would've failed [Carrizal] if we would've compromised on a verdict. His life was in our hands and I didn't think it was fair to compromise what we individually believed. The jurors did not want a mistrial, even when it was over, the judge told us not to feel bad. We still felt like we failed the system," Guerrero said.

The retrial for Carrizal is now scheduled for April 2. Another jury is expected to be selected for that trial.

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Estephany Escobar
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