The biker scheduled to be tried first for his alleged role in the Twin Peaks shootout was named Wednesday in a three-count superseding indictment.
A McLennan County grand jury charged Christopher Jacob Carrizal, 35, with one count of directing activities of a criminal street gang, a count of engaging in organized criminal activity with an underlying offense of murder and one count of engaging in organized criminal activity with an underlying offense of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna and his first assistant, Michael Jarrett, have made it clear that they want Carrizal, a Bandido from Dallas, to be the first in a long line of 155 bikers indicted after the May 2015 shootout to stand trial, even while passing over other bikers who were clamoring for quicker trial settings.
Carrizal’s trial is set to start Sept. 11 in Waco’s 19th State District Court.
Houston attorney Casie Gotro, who represents Carrizal, said all defendants have a right to request a chance to present evidence to a grand jury. However, she said, Reyna “did not even provide me the courtesy of informing me he was taking Jake’s case to the grand jury.”
“I was informed of this new indictment by you, the newspaper,” Gotro said. “The fact that Reyna has to sneak around and present evidence behind a defendant’s back just goes to show he is still trying to make chicken salad out of chicken feathers.
“I haven’t had a chance to read the indictment, but adding that charge this late in the game feels like vindictive prosecution. It’s like spaghetti charges when they throw it all against the wall and see what sticks.”
The superseding indictment takes the place of the original indictment against Carrizal, which, like the matching arrest warrant affidavits used to take 177 bikers into custody the evening of the shootout, was identical to the other indictments charging engaging in organized criminal activity with underlying offenses of murder and aggravated assault.
The new charges
The superseding indictment charges that Carrizal, “as part of the identifiable leadership of a criminal street gang,” directed or supervised the commission of a conspiracy to commit murder and/or aggravated assault, “by members of a criminal street gang, Bandidos.”
The first count carries a punishment range of 25 years to 99 years or up to life in prison.
The second count charges that Carrizal, “with the intent to establish, maintain or participate as a member of a criminal street gang, to wit: Bandidos,” did commit or conspire to commit murder by causing the death of Wayne Campbell, Matthew Smith, Charles Russell, Daniel Boyett, Jacob Rhyne, Richard Kirshner, Richard Jordan II, Manuel Rodriguez and Jesus Rodriguez.
The second count carries a penalty range of 15 years to 99 years or life.
The third count charges that Carrizal, as a member of a criminal street gang, committed aggravated assault with a deadly weapon against 18 bikers injured or wounded in the melee. The count charges that Carrizal used or exhibited a “firearm, and/or a knife or a sharp object and/or a club and/or an asp and/or a whip and/or brass knuckles and/or a chain and/or feet and or/hands and/or an object unknown to the grand jury.”
The third count carries from five to 99 years in prison or up to life upon conviction.
Reyna, who is attending a conference this week of the Texas Gang Investigators Association in San Antonio, came back to Waco with Jarrett and prosecutor Amanda Dillon on Wednesday to present the superseding indictment and returned to the conference. Reyna did not return a phone message on Wednesday.
Reyna had hoped to push the bikers’ trials into next year, asking Judge Ralph Strother to postpone the trials until after federal authorities try national leaders of the Bandidos group in San Antonio. That trial is set to begin in February.
Reyna and Jarrett told the court in March that Reyna received a letter from U.S. Attorney Richard Durbin telling him that federal authorities prosecuting the Bandidos in San Antonio have information that relates to Twin Peaks cases but said they will not share it with McLennan County prosecutors until after the federal trial.
Jarrett said at previous hearings that under the Michael Morton Act, prosecutors are bound to wait so they can review the federal evidence and share it with defense attorneys now that Durbin has notified Reyna’s office that they have evidence that relates to the Twin Peaks cases.
The Michael Morton Act requires prosecutors to reveal all evidence, especially favorable evidence, to defendants’ attorneys.
Gotro asked Strother in May for a summer trial setting, saying she didn’t need to wait on evidence from federal authorities because it does not pertain to Carrizal.
Gotro told Strother that much of the evidence against the Bandidos charged in San Antonio was obtained through wire intercepts. When the investigation is done, defendants either get indicted or they receive a letter from the government that says they were the target of wire surveillance, she said. Carrizal was not indicted in San Antonio and did not receive such a letter, Gotro said.
Also, she asked for a list of all Department of Public Safety troopers and agents and Texas Rangers who were listed as case agents in the federal Bandidos investigation, Gotro said. She compared that list to officers listed in the Twin Peaks investigation, and there was no overlap, she told the judge.