McLennan County prosecutors dismissed 15 more Twin Peaks biker cases Thursday afternoon, saying they are exercising "prosecutorial discretion" while focusing on others indicted in the May 2015 shootout with "a higher level of culpability."
The dismissals come on the eve of a status conference 54th State District Judge Matt Johnson has called for Friday afternoon. The conference, like one last week in 19th State District Court, was called to let the judge know how the DA's office plans to proceed with the remaining Twin Peaks biker cases.
Those dismissed Thursday were members of the Cossacks motorcycle club and its support clubs, all of which were at odds with the Bandidos motorcycle group. The two sides clashed at Twin Peaks May 17, 2015, leaving nine dead and 20 injured.
McLennan County Assistant District Attorney Amanda Dillon told Judge Ralph Strother last week she expects all but 25 to 30 cases of the 155 initially indicted will be dismissed. The latest batch of dismissals brings the total of indicted Twin Peaks defendants to 111.
Johnson had summoned 23 bikers for this Friday's court date. Late Thursday, his court coordinators informed attorneys for the 15 bikers of their dismissals, leaving eight bikers set to report for the hearing Friday.
Those whose cases were dismissed Thursday are Nathan Grindstaff, John Craft, Robert Bucy, Michael Baxley, Ronald Atterbury, Nate Farish, Dalton Davis, Laurence Kemp, Noble Mallard, Joseph Matthews, Dustin McCann, Doss Murphy, David Rasor, Jeffrey Veillon and John Wiley.
Farish, a contractor from the Dallas area who was standing in front of the porch at Twin Peaks when the gunfire erupted, is represented by Waco attorney Phil Frederick.
"It has been a long time coming, and we are glad his case has finally been dismissed and he can move on with his life," Frederick said.
Frederick said Farish, a Cossack member at the time, can be seen on a surveillance video crawling into the patio area, where he and others provided first aid to a biker who had been shot in the neck.
District Attorney Abel Reyna's office has dismissed 43 indicted bikers' cases and refused prosecution on 32 others who were not indicted.
Reyna, who was defeated by Barry Johnson in the Republican primary and will be leaving office Jan. 1, did not return phone messages Thursday.
Special prosecutor Brian M. Roberts, of Houston, dismissed the case against Hewitt biker Matthew Clendennen on Monday, saying there wasn't sufficient probable cause to arrest him.
Roberts is among four special prosecutors appointed to handle four Twin Peaks cases from which Reyna recused his office.
“In Clendennen’s case, I don’t think the case should have been filed in the first place based on all the facts and evidence that I saw,” Roberts said last week. “I think there was a (video) clip where Abel Reyna stated that his basis for filing the engaging charges was because these are criminal street gangs and everyone who was a supporter was being filed on.
“In my opinion, that just wasn’t a sufficient basis to charge someone without any evidence that they were involved in any wrongdoing that day,” he said. “…There was just no evidence to show he was involved in anything that happened there, other than being present, and that ain’t enough.”
Reyna's new first assistant, Robert F. Moody, and prosecutors Hilary LaBorde and Gabrielle Massey signed Thursday's dismissals. The reason stated on each dismissal stands in stark contrast with the reason Roberts gave for dismissing Clendennen's case.
"While the grand jury has determined probable cause for the defendant's arrest and prosecution exists, 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," the dismissals state.
Attorneys for Twin Peaks defendants have said the wording on Reyna's dismissals is drafted to take into consideration the 130 civil rights lawsuits bikers have filed against Reyna, McLennan County, the city of Waco, former Waco Police Chief Brent Stroman and others in an Austin federal court.
Waco attorney Alan Bennett, who represents former defendant Robert Bucy, said his client, a Kansas trucker, was "thrilled to see that justice ultimately prevailed in his case."
"The arrest and indictment of Robert Bucy for being a participant in the murder and assault of the men who were killed and injured at Twin Peaks was a gross injustice," Bennett said. "I have said from the beginning that the state should have focused on the 20-something people who were actually involved. After allowing this flimsy case to hang over Mr. Bucy's head for nearly three years, the state has apparently now decided to concentrate on those who might actually be guilty."
Bucy, a Cossack formerly from Midlothian, was sitting at a table on the porch at Twin Peaks when the shooting started. He ran to the freezer and he and others helped Twin Peaks employees take refuge in the freezer until police came to escort them from the building, Bennett said.