Judge to rule on motion to disqualify DA from Twin Peaks cases next week

Posted at 9:36 AM, Oct 14, 2016
and last updated 2018-07-24 21:30:28-04

Next week, a McLennan County District Judge will rule on whether District Attorney Abel Reyna will be disqualified from prosecuting the Twin Peaks shootout cases.

Nine bikers died and dozens were injured following the shootout at the Twin Peaks restaurant in May 17, 2015. In the aftermath of the shootout, 177 bikers were arrested. 

During a second hearing on Friday, the attorneys for indicted bikers Matthew Clendennen and Ray Nelson, tried to prove there had been inconsistencies in the testimony of Reyna during the first hearing of the case.

Clendennen’s attorney, Clint Broden, submitted Reyna’s phone records to be admitted into evidence stating at first they were from May 17, 2015.

"We were trying to test Mr. Reyna's veracity to see whether the phone records supported his testimony in the first hearing,” Broden said.

District Clerk Jon Gimble was called to the stand on Friday and questioned about a 30 minute phone call that Broden said had taken place the day of the shootout. However, after the judge had announced he would rule on the matter next week, it came to light the phone records presented were from May 17, 2016, a year later after the shootout.

“I don't think it hurts our case, it was a mistake. I don't like to make mistakes. It doesn't hurt, it doesn't help, they were just the wrong records,” Broden said. “I would like to have the 2015 records and I would like mistakes like that not to happen but I don't think it affects them one way or the other.”

Brandon Luce who is representing Reyna in this case said this shows claims about Reyna lying are not true.

“We know he talked to the chief that day an evening. The chief told us that, Mr. Reyna told us that. We know he was on the scene to provide assistance, if need be as well as the rest of his staff so it went to reinforce that that's in fact what happened,” Luce said.

At the beginning of the hearing, Tom Brandt, the attorney representing Reyna and McLennan County in the civil rights lawsuits stemming from the arrests of 177 bikers asked Judge Matt Johnson to quash the subpoenas for several county officials.

Those officials included, county commissioners, County Administrator Dustin Chapman and County Auditor Stan Chambers.

Broden said during the hearing he wanted to ask them whether county commissioners had agreed to pay for potential judgments against Reyna in the civil rights cases that exceed the $500,000 county’s insurance coverage.

Brandt explained the Texas Association of Counties had already disclosed and provided Broden with the Risk Management Pool insurance policy and any additional questioning would violate attorney-client privilege.

The motion to quash was granted after both parties agreed that the Commissioner’s Court had not taken an official action to pay for judgments that exceed the $500,000 insurance coverage.

After the hearing, Broden continued to state Reyna overstepped his role as prosecutor claiming Reyna advocated for the mass arrests.

“This is an unprecedented case. It's clear he was an active participant in the investigation of the case, beyond the legal part of it. He also has a huge financial interest that there are no judgments entered against him in the civil rights cases,” Broden said.

However, Luce said he had no conflict of interest because he is being sued by some of the defendants in the Twin Peaks cases.

“If that were the case any suspect, defendant, whoever it was charged with a crime could go ahead and sue the DA and remove the DA and appoint a new DA and the process would continue, Luce said.

He added Reyna did not overstep his role as prosecutor on May 17, 2015.

"He is supposed to be an investigator. He is supposed to be a law enforcement personnel as well as the attorney. It's well within his bounds to investigate a case, as he should. It's OK what happen in that situation. It's what should happen and it's completely and totally legal,” Luce said.

Both parties will have until Wednesday to submit briefs. Judge Johnson will rule on the motion before the end of next week. 

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