Trial record contains no exculpatory evidence because cop lawyer hired called no witnesses for defense, cross examined no one who testified
Cowtown – Bandido Drifter has a lot to think about during his first holiday weekend behind Texas prison walls.
While most people are fishing, skiing, camping or firing up the barbecue this weekend, Howard Wayne “Drifter” Baker, the 62-year-old former President of the Ft. Worth Bandidos Chapter, is in the Diagnostic Unit of the Texas prison system, under evaluation for his security rating and his eventual staus as a prisoner, as to where and how he will do his time.
He has 45 years to do for 9 felony counts including engaging in organized criminal activity that allegedly led to the December 12, 2014 murder of Geoffrey Brady, a member of the Ghost Riders Motorcycle Club, aggravated assault, and other crimes in connection with an ambush on himself, two fellow Bandidos and another member of a Bandidos support club.
The only charge for which the jurors acquitted him was for unauthorized possession of a firearm. Though a witness testified she saw a Bandido named Dobber brandishing one, Ft. Worth police never could locate the “silver colored” pistol she said she saw him pointing at his alleged victim. Drifter was never identified as the shooter. He was identified as the President of the Ft. Worth Chapter of Bandidos MC.
In fact, no one saw him pull the trigger, according to testimony. Not only that, but the only person whose hands were tested for gunshot residue, the deceased victim Geoff Brady, was also the only one whose hands tested positive for nitrate deposits.
Authorities tested no one else. They offered no ballistics test information.
Prosecutors also failed to produce the 30 fellow Bandidos the media claimed crowded into the Gators Jam Inn Bar in the 2800 block of Race Street near Riverside Dr. There were only four, as it turns out.
In fact, of all the witnesses who testified, four said they “never saw” Drifter.
According to a fellow Bandidos Chapter President, he was actually convicted for “being a Bandido.”
A close friend of the family who attended every day of his trial under heightened security at the Tarrant County Courthouse gave to gavel, said, “The whole trial, to me, like the investigators, when they asked them questions, there was no evidence that he did anything.”
The person who spoke to this journalist requested anonymity due to the possibility of extreme danger to Drifter’s grand children, friends, and family. “These people (Bandidos) are my family. I don’t think they would do anything to purposely hurt anyone.”
In fact, Bandido Drifter Baker’s attorney, Jim Lane, a Ft. Worth City Councilman for more than a decade who does legal work for members of the largest police union in Texas, the Combined Law Enforcement Agencies of Texas (CLEAT), not only did not call any witnesses in Drifter’s defense, he asked no questions of prosecution witnesses on cross examination. He also had no follow up questions for witnesses from whom his investigator Fred Pendergraf, a retired Ft. Worth cop, took statements.
According to the law firm’s website, Pendergraf is a co-founder of CLEAT.
Said the friend of the family who contacted us, a person in a position to know, Pendergraf appeared at Baker’s house one day during the two and a half years his case was pending and asked for an additional $6,000, something he said it would be best to “not tell the lawyers” about.
One of the most curious aspects of testimony was that Bandido Drifter, who was suffering from the effects of a traffic accident, and walking with a cane, was still outside the bar, slowing alighting from his scooter, when he began to hear gunshots. “He didn’t even get off his bike before he heard guns start firing.”
In fact, the way his friend tell it, the four Bandidos were ambushed, and not the Cossacks, Winos, and Ghost Riders the media and prosecutors claimed the Bandidos attacked.
“As soon as they (Bandidos) walked in the door, they shot two of them.”
So, why did Bandido Drifter hire Jim Lane, one of the city dads of Cowtown who serves on multiple airport, economic development, and other civic and association corporate boards?
One clue is that Drifter retired after 20 years as a municipal employee, a supervisor at the Ft. Worth Convention Center.
“He thought Jim Lane was about as good an attorney as there is to be found.”
Knowledgeable observers place the blame for the jury’s conviction of Drifter on the judge’s instructions under the Texas law of parties.
Under that law, a person is liable for the actions of another if he was with them and did nothing to prevent their wrongdoing. Any law of accomplices used in other states is void by the Texas law. The only affirmative defense is to prove that one did something to attempt to stop an offense another person committed, especially if the accused holds some position of authority.
Baker’s defense team offered no such evidence, nor did they elicit testimony to that effect from any witness called by the prosecution.
Jurors only heard the words of the prosecutor, Assistant District Attorney Allenna Bangs, who told them that the Bandidos “came in with a purpose,” to avenge the practice of other motorcycle clubs wearing rockers on their colors that claim “Texas” as their territory.
It is a similar allegation leveled at Bandido Jake Carrizal, a Bandido from Dallas involved in the gunfight at Twin Peaks on May 17, 2015 following the alleged declaration by John Portillo, National Vice President, that the Bandidos were “at war” with the Cossacks.
Of 155 indicted, his trial is the first scheduled to be held at Waco in August.
According to other bikers who are closely observing developments in the cases, the goal of prosecutors is to “draw a line” from one defendant to the other.
Baker’s close family friend finished by saying that an assistant prosecutor from the McLennan County Criminal District Attorney’s Office attended the trial each day until the jury delivered their verdict and assessed punishment of Drifter at 45 years confinement in the Texas Department of Corrections, Institutional Division.
So mote it be.