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Smith County grand jury indicts 3 accused of killing motorcyclist

Smith County grand jury indicts 3 accused of killing motorcyclist
Jeffery Ryan Griffin, Joshua Ray Tibbits, and Jose Antonio Valenzuela (Source: Smith County Sheriff’s Office)

A Smith County grand jury has indicted the three men who are accused of chasing a motorcycle rider down on FM 850 before they shot and killed him in early May.

The grand jury, which met in the 114th Judicial District Court on June 6, indicted Jeffery Ryan Griffin, 30, of Robinson, Joshua Ray Tibbitts, 29, of Waco, and Jose Antonio Valenzuela, 31, of Longview on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity.

All three men are still being held in the Smith County Jail. Each man’s bond was set at $2.5 million.

According to an arrest affidavit obtained by KLTV, on May 2, officials responded to the 16480 block of FM 850 in Arp for a reported motorcycle wreck. When they arrived, they found the victim, Brandon Edwards, who had been fatally shot.

The affidavit said upon processing the scene, detectives learned there were several handgun shell casings in the area, both before and after the location of Edwards, both on the roadway and the grass beside the roadway. Casings for both 9mm and 40 caliber handguns were discovered indicating the possibility of multiple shooters.

Responding Smith County Sheriff’s Office deputies noticed that Edwards was wearing a jacket that indicated he was a member of the 1%er Cossacks Motorcycle Gang – Rose City Chapter, the affidavit stated. When SCSO deputies interviewed a member of the club, he said the only know hostility toward the club was from the Original Ugly man Cossack Club and mentioned the name “Barcelona.”

Detectives also spoke with neighbors and located a security camera approximately a quarter-mile from the location of the accident. The owners of the camera agreed to share the camera with detectives.

Detectives reviewed the footage and found footage of the victim driving east on FM 850 on his motorcycle with what appeared to be a white Dodge Ram four-door flatbed truck following close behind. Both appeared to be traveling at a high rate of speed according to the affidavit.

Detectives were also told by witnesses in the area it was apparent the motorcycle was being chased by the truck and shortly afterward, they heard multiple gunshots.

The affidavit said, later on, detectives began researching the Original Ugly Man Cossack club to attempt to locate or identify “Barcelona.” SCSO detectives were able to locate a Facebook profile with the name “Jose Cossack Barcelona.” Further research revealed the account belonged to Jose Antonio Valenzuela, AKA “Barcelona.” Detectives also found a photo of a flatbed truck similar to the description of the truck depicted on the security camera on the Facebook account.

The affidavit said after locating the photo of the truck, detectives sent a team out to attempt to locate Valenzuela or the suspect vehicle at a known address in Longview. Upon arriving, detectives observed a white 2018 Ram Flatbed leaving the location, ultimately getting on I-20 heading west towards Dallas.

The affidavit said after observing the truck make multiple lane changes without signaling, patrol deputies conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle. Valenzuela and four others were removed from the vehicle, detained, and taken to Tyler for an interview.

The affidavit said the four that were detained along with Valenzuela were interviewed first.

After further investigation, Smith County Sheriff’s Office detectives drove to Waco an attempt to locate the other two people suspected of being with Valenzuela when Edwards was shot and killed. After they found Griffin and interviewed him, he told them that he and Tibbitts had been in Longview to help “Barcelona” move into a new house, the affidavit stated.

At that point, the SCSO detectives told Griffin that there was surveillance footage of him at Whataburger in Liberty City and showed him the video of the victim being chased down by a flatbed truck, the affidavit stated.

Griffin ‘s demeanor changed, the affidavit stated. He then allegedly said if the detectives believed he was guilty of murder, then he needed an attorney.

The affidavit said the statements given to detectives led them to believe probable cause existed for the arrest of the three individuals.