Twin Peaks jury panel readies for Carrizal trial

The first trial of a biker arrested in the May 2015 skirmish between rival motorcycle groups at Twin Peaks in Waco inched a bit closer to reality Friday with the impaneling of about 150 potential jurors.

Judge Matt Johnson of Waco’s 54th State District Court excused 33 of the 181 potential jurors who reported Friday after hearing exemptions and excuses and instructed the remaining panel to return Oct. 9 to fill out a 60-question questionnaire. The judge scheduled jury selection in Dallas Bandidos chapter President Jacob Carrizal’s trial to start the following day.

Johnson had intended the jury panel to fill out the questionnaires on Friday. However, that had to be postponed because of last-minute changes to a number of the questions submitted by prosecutors and Carrizal’s attorney, Casie Gotro, of Houston.


New Motion filed to remove D.A. from trying Twin Peaks biker case

WACO,Texas (KWTX) A Dallas attorney representing a Twin Peaks biker has filed a new motion to have the McLennan County District Attorney's office removed from his client's case.

Last July, F. Clinton Broden, the defense attorney for Matt Clendennen of Hewitt, filed a similar motion but was denied by 54th District Court Judge Matt Johnson. That decision was upheld by the Tenth Court of Appeals.

In today's motion, Broden claims that District Attorney Abel Reyna was a material witness in the July hearing, "the rules are crystal clear, Judge Johnson should have recused himself from making any ruling because of that."

Broden cites Judge Johnson and Reyna's past history of being law partners as problematic.

The motion and recusal request seek a new judge to re-hear the motion to remove Reyna and his office from trying Clendennen's case and name an attorney pro tem.


4th Bandido gang member admits to role in killing Hell’s Angels rival

A fourth member of the Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Organization pleaded guilty Wednesday for his role in the killing of an Austin man who tried to start a chapter of rival group, Hell’s Angels.

Norberto “Hammer” Serna, Jr., 35, pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting by using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to the shooting death of Anthony Benesh at a hearing in San Antonio’s federal court.

Three other Bandidos have also pleaded guilty to similar federal charges.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.


Third member of Bandidos pleads to homicide charges from 2006

SAN ANTONIO - A man faces life in federal prison after pleading guilty to a charge in connection with the murder of Hells Angel Anthony Benesh, which took place in 2006, the Department of Justice said Monday.
Jesse James Benavidez, sergeant at arms with the Bandidos Outlaw Motorcycle Organization, San Antonio Centro Chapter, pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting using and discharging a firearm during and in relation to a crime -- specifically, murder in aid of racketeering, officials said in a news release.
Benavidez is the third member of the group to plead guilty.


Date set for first Twin Peaks trial


The date for the trial of the first biker indicted in the Twin Peaks shootout has been set for next month after several delays in the process.

Christopher “Jacob” Carrizal, president of the Dallas chapter of the Bandidos, faces charges accused of engaging in organized criminal activity outside the Twin Peaks restaurant on May 17, 2015. The shootout left nine bikers dead and dozens injured.

The jury qualification process was delayed after Carrizal’s attorney Casie Gotro filed a motion to recuse 19th District Court Judge Ralph Strother and 54th District Judge Matt Johnson earlier this month. Johnson is now presiding over the case after Strother’s recusal was granted.


Bandidos to plead guilty in 2006 murder of rival biker

Four reputed members of the Bandidos Motorcycle Club have signed plea deals in which they will admit to their roles in the killing of a man in Austin who reportedly tried to start a chapter of the California-based rival, the Hells Angels.

The Bandidos have long been suspected of the hit on Anthony W. Benesh III, who was gunned down March 18, 2006, in front of his girlfriend and two children as they left Saccone’s Pizza in Austin.


Benesh,44, had been wearing a motorcycle vest depicting the Hells Angels’ death head and colors, despite being told by the Bandidos that he could not do so in Texas, which is Bandidos territory, and that he would be killed if he didn't stop, according to federal court documents.


Judge denies speedy trial motion in Clendennen Twin Peaks case

A judge on Friday rejected a motion from former biker Matthew Clendennen to dismiss the charges against him on a claim his right to a speedy trial has been violated.

Judge Matt Johnson of Waco’s 54th State District Court considered a variety of motions Friday from Clendennen’s attorney, Clint Broden, including a motion to disqualify the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office because it has a tape recording of Clendennen and Broden speaking by phone while Clendennen was still in the county jail.


Twin Peaks defense attorney tries to get second judge tossed from case

One day after a visiting judge yanked 19th District Court Judge Ralph Strother off the first Twin Peaks biker trial, the defense attorney for defendant Jake Carrizal -- a member of the Bandidos motorcycle club -- filed a motion to also recuse the new Judge Matt Johnson from presiding over the case.

The move delays Carrizal's jury selection for yet another day. A deputy clerk told the jury to leave and return Wednesday at 9 a.m.

A panel of about 150 showed up for jury duty in the Twin Peaks biker trial. Many of them were angry that the selection process was stopped. 

The motion's filing was no surprise. Defense Attorney Casie Gotro had previously stated she would file such court documents and implied she believed Johnson and Strother would both be biased toward the prosecution.

The state claimed Monday that Gotro was just trying to delay the trial.


Leaked Documents Show Waco Police Knew “Potential For Violence” Ahead Of Twin Peaks Shootout Was ‘Very High’

Police had reason to believe violence would occur, but failed to intervene. Twin Peaks management didn’t take proper precautions to protect customers. One state law enforcement agency was kept completely in the dark.

It’s been more than two years since one of the deadliest criminal shootouts in American history. But the bloody clash involving motorcyclists at a Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco continues to be shrouded by a veil of secrecy. Criminal trials are scheduled to start next week, and thanks to a trove of leaked documents obtained by the Texas Standard, we now gain a fascinating insight into the lethal fray.


Bad Judge Recused

According to multiple sources, McLennan County Judge Ralph T. Strother has been removed from presiding over the trials of at least three defendants in the Twin Peaks Biker Brawl case.

The recusal was ordered by retired judge James Morgan in response to three motions filed June 30. Those motions were filed by Dallas attorney Clint Broden who represents defendant George Bergman; Galveston attorney and former district judge Susan Criss who represents Rolando Reyes; and Austin attorney Millie L. Thompson who is defending Thomas Landers.

Bergman’s motion accused Strother of doing “everything in his power to accommo- date the State’s wishes and turn them into realities.”

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