Waco – Just like any rule, there are exceptions, and the witness exclusionary rule is no different.
That’s why it came as such a surprise when Zach Carrizal answered the call to the witness stand in midmorning Tuesday during the comedy of errors the first Twin Peaks trial in the case against his brother Jake has turned out to be.
Zach is a wrench; he works on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Lives in Ruidoso, New Mexico, but he started out in Dallas, growing up in the same house with his brother Jake. On one side of his shaved head is the tattooed image of the Fat Mexican with the machete, revolver and sombrero.
His father, who now lives in Ruidoso, is also a Bandido, as is his uncle, the former President of the Dallas Chapter of the Bandidos, who was arrested and charged alongside his brother Jake after they arrived in a flurry of flying fists and bullets whizzing over the heads of cops and bikers alike at Twin Peaks Restaurant at noon on Sunday, May 17, 2015.
Zach had been subpoenaed and sworn as a witness, but he was not excluded from the courtroom. When lead prosecutor Michael Jarrett called him to the stand, he stood and strode to the box with confidence, wrote and printed his name on a tablet, and waited for the first question.
Jarrett asked him what does it take to be a Bandido, and Zach replied without having to stop and think.
“Being a man.”
How does one become a Bandido? You prosepect. How? By being a man. How do you do that? “Doing what you say you’re going to do.” Such as? You show up where you say you’re going to show up. If not? “Make a phone call.”
What if you don’t do what you say you’re going to do?
“You’re no longer a member of the club.” They pull the patch. You’re out in bad standing.
On cross examination by his brother’s attorney, Casie Gotro, he testified the entire amount of the $400 dues paid by member chapters to the natioinal Bandidos club he earlier told Jarrett goes for “all the legal expenses the brothers are facing nationwide.”
Ms. Gotro remarked, “It sounds like he’s accusing you of illegal activity. Is that what it sounds like to you?”
He answered, “Yeah. Kind of.”
And after he testified, he said though he was a surprise witness, and no one prepared him to answer the questions, he just spoke the truth. He testified he does not know just who it was who told his brother Jake that members of a Hells Angels support club are not allowed to wear their patches in the Dallas-Ft. Worth area.
THE SMOKING GUN TAPES OF THE DEFENDANT’S TEXTS
Similarly, text references from Jake Carrizal about the Junkyard Dogs said, “We took their heart patch. Now they’re just a mom and pop club. They are punks.” In another question, the reference to a text message stating the weather report for Waco where the Bandidos would meet at a Confederation of Clubs and Independents gathering to hear about legislative issues pending in Austin, Jake told his members that it looked stormy. “Remember, we are all in this together.” He said they should not bring their old ladies to the meeting. “At all.”
Zach disagreed with a question from Gotro stating it “looks like the Bandidos have some kind of regulatory authority.” Jarrett had earlier gotten his agreement that there is no law against wearing a patch, and that all the Bandios patches are “earned.” You can’t just go out and buy one and wear it. When it came to the “Expect no mercy” path, he said he does not know what it means because “I haven’t earned it, yet.”
He testified about the courtesy of a Devil’s Disciples member in calling to say they will be traveling through New Mexico. Lead Prosecutor Michael Jarrett quizzed him, asking the part of the message stating the Disciples are a “HA” support club, meaning Hells Angels. Zach was unruffled.
IT WAS MIDMORNING before the prosecutors finally got the text messages to load onto a reader so that defense counsel could compare them with what they have, even though they have insisted all along that she received “simulataneous discovery.” There’s something about the format. The computer is too slow.
Jurors were impatient when they were seated twice, then sent back to the jury room because the images were still slowly loading on a computer.
Judge Matt Johnson was more than impatient. He displayed his anger, saying the lawyers would work through their lunch break. “We can’t have the jurors waiting around like this.”
When they finally got the job done, and the action began, the prosecutors sat in stunned silence after Johnson delivered a sweeping series of sustainments to objections to the material on the phones of Jake Carrizal, Bandido Nomad Marshall Mitchell, and a man named Allen. Defense counsel’s motions were based on grounds of the confronation clause of the Sixth Amendment dealing with the witnesses against the defendant, and the evidentiary propriety of the discovery material and its distribution.
A seasoned attorney observing the action predicted that the sight of so much blood in the pictures the jury will eventually see will probably tip the scales against the Bandidos.
In this phase of the trial, they are seeing how the Bandidos made a brother.
They are also seeing how the ATF, DPS, and Waco police made a mess – a bloody mess.
They heard testimony from a certified officer named Chris Schaeffer who allowed that the only reason a criminal street organization, as he has branded the Bandidos, to come to the Twin Peaks meeting on Sunday, May 17, was to rumble violently with the Cossacks.
Defense counsel had to overcome vigorous objection by the prosecution to get testimony on the record that the reason for that meeting was for State COC Chair Paul Landers to give an update on what he learned at a national meeting in Denver the previous month. Jarrett insisted the answers to those questions called for speculation. The judge gaveled him down.
Probably the most telling testimony came from the Waco SWAT Sgt. Stephen Druze, who recalled how he and other special weapons squad members deployed in five marked Ford SUV’s, clad in traditional blue uniforms, locked and loaded.
He let the jurors know that there had been decisions made and he was following orders, that the decisions came from a gang unit honcho, Officer Rogers and by the top brass. They visited the owners of the Twin Peaks Restaurant and were unable to persuade them to not allow the meeting to go forward because of their concerns over a recent violent attack on a Bandido by Cossacks wielding hammers at the I-35 322 mile marker on March 22 – 3/22 – and its aftermath jat the Bar B Truck Stop at Gordon, Texas on I-20 later that afternoon by what a Palo Pinto Deputy named John Hardeman testified he thought were a group of Bandidos. They visited the President of the Waco Chapter of the Cossacks, John Wilson, at his motorcycle shop then located near the Valley Mills exit on I-35.
Defense counsel asked about phones thrown down at the scene of the bloody attack at Gordon and the costume worn by the assailants. She asked if he thought they could have been from another group. His answers were inconclusive. He never apprehended any of the assailants, and an attendant at the filling station said she thought they were Bandidos because of the shirts they were wearing.
Druze testified on cross examination that he knew of no undercover officers in the crowd, that he was unaware of a man in a blue shirt at the entrance to Don Carlos who signalled with his right hand when everyone was in position and then ran for cover, and that he had no direct knowledge of the plans made by the federal and state authorities.
Said Druze, “There were a lot of people out there that day.”
They visited everyone involved and cautioned them, but they never visited the Bandidos, less than 10 of whom rode into a bloody ambush, attacked before they could get off their scoots.
RITUAL VIOLENCE FROM THE EAST IS A CAUTION, TO BE SURE