PART OF MY DEFENSE STRATEGY – I’LL JUST TELL THE COURT -THERE IS MOTORCYCLE PROFILING TAKING PLACE IN THE STATE OF TEXAS NOW IN WHICH FIREARMS ARE CONFISCATED WITHOUT INVESTIGATIONS TAKING PLACE… – CASIE GOTRO, DEFENSE COUNSEL FOR BANDIDO JAKE CARRIZAL
Waco – When they began to discuss the phones, their voices – the judge, the prosecutors, the defense counsel – they all lowered their voices, to the point where you could barely hear them.
The words “Adam Walsh Material” – a euphemism for child pornography – were audible – just barely – and there was a lot of drama about phones that have gone missing.
Out of 342 confiscated on May 17, 2015 at gunpoint at Twin Peaks Restaurant following a police ambush of hundreds of persons, 177 of them arrested for engaging in organized criminal activity, 20 of the wounded by gunfire, 9 of the left dead – most of them with quarter-inch bullet holes in the back, the prosecution and cops have tendered only 211, according to Casie Gotro . The cops have returned 42 to their owners, and that leaves 82 phones unaccounted for.
She can’t have a look at them, she said, due to resistance by law enforcement. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to investigate. I just want to see the phones,” she told Judge Matt Johnson of the 54th Criminal District Court.
Numerous women, all of them terror-stricken to this day, say that the uniformed patrol officers with the M-4 semiauto AR-15 style assault rifles told them to either give up their phones or they would shoot them in the head where they lay prone and helpless at point-blank range.
Judge Johnson replied, “I’ll allow you access to the phones.” DA Abel Reyna chimed in, “We can still take that date and return it. There is a way it can be done.”
That’s progress – after 29 months – you can call that progress.
Then there’s the matter of photo evidence. There is very little available, Ms. Gotro has found.
“Not one phone has photos on it.”
She has received a total of “sixteen fuzzy still photos” made by undercover DPS officers who were on-scene.
“You honor, they had five undercover people there. It’s hard for me to accept they only took 16 photos,” she said.
That set lead prosecutor Michael Jarrett in motion.
“You honor, it is what it is…They do not exist. She’s arguing with the Court. It is what it is. We could do this forever.”
Said Johnson, “If it can be produced, it should be produced.”
The conundrum centers around the necessity of the State to prove the chief allegation of complaint, that Carrizal was in charge of a criminal enterprise, that he directed the activities of that felonious throng of bad actors.
The pre-trial evidentiary hearing held on Tuesday morning, September 19, revealed the representatives of the State of Texas with dogging heels dug in, fully resisting the discovery efforts of the defense.
The second most consistent happening revealed in the hearing was the spectacle of the two elected officials, the District Judge and the Criminal District Attorney, both adamantly agreeing they have no problem, that they intend to cooperate fully – and yet there are still these pesky problems with those who have been ordered to turn over evidence.
For instance, everything started off with a bang when defense counsel Casie Gotro told the Court “It gives me a lot of anxiety” that Waco Police Offense Report No. 002 makes mention of 17 bulletproof vests.
“I’ve been through all the property rooms. Now I’ve got 17 people with bullet proof vests on…”
That sent the quartet of DA’s staffers scurrying in different directions with an investigator for the office, making copies and looking for more material. In the end, it was agreed that the software for the report form has a “pull-down” menu, and that this device has a rather vague reference about the vests on it.
Quizzed about just who was wearing the vests, was it the cops, Ms. Gotro said it was. Asked about the materiality of the bullet proof vests, she said, “I don’t know what they are, really.”
She shrugged at the mystery of it all.
The Office of the Attorney General fielded a young lady named Kelsey Warren who argued fiercely that any exposure of criminal records of those arrested that day is improper because the database – known as NCIC, and TexScan – is by statute reserved for law enforcement agencies only, under penalty of law.
For months, Ms. Gotro explained, she has been unable to get what she seeks through the DA’s office.
“It’s not an element for them to use,” said the AG’s representative.
Ms. Warren continued with the argument, saying that “We’re a third party.” Discovery procedure as defined in the the code of criminal procedure is between the two adversaries, prosecution and defense. “She couldn’t get what she wanted through the DA’s office, so she has gone around discovery…”
Judge Johnson answered both Jarrett and Ms. Warren by asking, “Where does it say they can’t subpoena anybody they want to?”
Ms. Gotro told the Court that an expert is scheduled to testify that 75 percent of the Bandidos are convicted felons.
“We do not anticipate any expert to testify as to the percentage,” said Jarrett.
Judge Johnson ruled against the state’s motion to quash the subpoenas served on the director of DPS or his designees, at least temporarily.
Both sides agreed to giving the state two weeks – until Tuesday, October 3 – to come up with the items sought, turn them over to the Judge, who will inspect them in his chambers, then make a judicial review of the law, and instruct them which parts to redact in accordance with the statutes.
Said Judge Johnson, “We’re going to slide everything back on my schedule.” The jurors summoned to appear on September 29 will be examined, the panel seated, and the trial will begin on October 9, he announced.