The request comes as the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office continues to provide hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of pages of discovery materials to the bikers’ defense attorneys, including copies of police reports, hundreds of hours of audio and video recordings of the incident and subsequent interviews with bikers, 700,000 pages of cellphone records, tens of thousands of photographs and Facebook posts.Discovery had been repeatedly delayed but now:
defense attorneys involved in the Twin Peaks cases have been given five rounds of discovery from the DA’s office, which is required by statute to provide any and all evidence to the defense, regardless of whether the evidence points to guilt or innocence.
The DA’s office recalled the sixth round of evidence last month after it was discovered some of the bikers’ cellphone images that were released contained child pornography.County officials have been keeping the public in the dark about the expense of the prosecutions, but Witherspoon takes a stab at estimating the different components of the cost:
In the meantime, county officials are contemplating how to fund the huge expense of prosecuting all the cases. McLennan County Auditor Stan Chambers said the county has paid $62,026 so far in court-appointed attorneys’ fees. That total will multiply dramatically as the cases drag on and as the 70 to 80 court-appointed attorneys continue to review the mountain of discovery at $75 an hour for out-of-court time and $80 an hour for in-court time.
As the first cases are tried in McLennan County, the potential remains for changes of venue for remaining defendants. Trying the cases away from Waco would double or triple the cost to the county, officials say.
As more bikers go to trial, their attorneys likely will feel the need to hire experts in a number of subjects, including ballistics, crime scene analysis, DNA and others, which also will increase the costs to the county.
And it has been suggested the DA’s office could upgrade the charges against a few of the bikers to capital murder and seek the death penalty in those cases. Capital murder cases are extremely expensive and include year after year of appeals if there are convictions.The defense attorneys for the first guys up say that, despite hundreds of thousands of pages of discovery, they have yet to find any inculpatory evidence accusing their clients of crimes. Earlier a defense attorney speculated that no one may be successfully prosecuted since the actual shooters involved in the massacre were all killed by police snipers. So the overwhelming majority of defendants were simply witnesses at a crime scene, not perpetrators, a fact which raises the question: Why hasn't DA Abel Reyna dropped charges against un-involved parties long ago?