Judge recused from first Twin Peaks trial - KXXV Central Texas News Now

Judge recused from first Twin Peaks trial

(Source: KXXV) (Source: KXXV)

A McLennan District Court Judge will not preside over the first Twin Peaks biker trial. 

On Monday, visiting Judge Dan Mills granted the recusal of 19th District Court Judge Ralph Strother after listening to more than five hours of testimony. 

Strother was expected to preside over the trial of Christopher Jacob Carrizal, the president of the Dallas Chapter of the Bandidos. He is the first Twin Peaks biker scheduled to go on trial. 

Carrizal was indicted on engaging in criminal activity charges stemming from the shooting on March 17, 2015, outside of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco that left nine dead and dozens injured.

Judge Mills said he decided to grant the recusal in part because of the same reason Strother had been recused three other biker cases. In those cases, defense attorneys claimed their clients had been ordered to go to court for the District Attorney’s Office to collect DNA evidence.

Judge Morgan who ruled on the recusal of those cases called the issue surrounding the DNA docket bothersome.

Mills who granted the recusal in Carrizal's case said that by asking the court to facilitate their presence, it gives the appearance the court is helping the DA’s office to gather evidence.

Carrizal’s attorney Casie Gotro also claimed Strother had not allowed her to have access to evidence, including audio recordings. In addition, she said he had usually sided with the state.

"It's long overdue because it feels we've been without a judge for a long time. It's nice to see the playing field leveled,” Gotro said.

Prosecutor Michael Jarrett said Gotro had being given the evidence the DA’s office had received. In addition, he said if she disagreed with the court rulings that did not make judge Strother recusable.

He also added that the perception of Strother’s bias may come from her demeanor in court.

She replied that she thought it was fair to demand her client to get a fair trial. 

Throughout the hearing, Jarrett stated several times, the DA’S office was ready for trial regardless of the judge chose to preside over the case.

Third Judicial Region Administrative Judge Billy Stubblefield will decide who will preside over the case. However, during the hearing, Mills said 54th District Court Judge Matt Johnson was likely to take over the trial.

Gotro said she planned to file a recusal motion for Johnson on Tuesday morning because she believes the facts are the same.

District Attorney Jon Gimble said 150 potential jurors are still expected to appear in court for jury selection on Tuesday at 8:30 a.m.

The jury selection process has been delayed at least twice. Two weeks ago, the jury selection process was halted when Carrizal's attorney, Casie Gotro, filed a motion to recuse Strother.

Strother has already been recused from three cases involving Twin Peaks bikers.

Read more: 
Judge recused from three Twin Peaks biker cases

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