WACO, Texas (CN) – A Texas judge declared a mistrial Friday in the case of the Dallas leader of the Bandidos motorcycle gang involved in a deadly 2015 shootout with rival Cossacks at a Twin Peaks “breastaurant” that killed nine and injured 20.
Halfway through their second day of deliberations, the McLennan County jury convinced state District Judge Matt Johnson they were hopelessly deadlocked in the case against Jacob “Jake” Carrizal, 35, of Dallas. He was charged on two counts of engaging in organized criminal activity and one count of directing organized criminal activity. More than 150 people were charged after the shooting, with Carrizal being the first to go to trial. He faced up to life in state prison.
The jury first informed Johnson they were deadlocked as early as Thursday evening, where they spent sequestered at a hotel. The judge urged them to continue. They again informed Johnson they were deadlocked by lunchtime on Friday, a county holiday for Veterans Day.
Dressed in a dark blazer and light blue shirt, the heavily-tattooed and bearded Carrizal hugged his supporters and family members as the mistrial was announced.
Prosecutors declined to comment on the mistrial afterwards. Carrizal remains free on bond as they considered if and when they will retry the case.
Carrizal’s attorney, Casie Gotro, of San Antonio, credited her client testifying on his own behalf for swaying the jurors against conviction.
“Jake took the stand and the jury loved hearing from him,” she said afterward. “The evidence was insufficient for a conviction.”
During the five-week long trial, prosecutors portrayed Carrizal as getting his bikers ready for violence before a biker coalition summit at the Waco restaurant where the Cossacks were not invited. They called witnesses who testified he told fellow Bandidos to bring their guns, to not travel alone, to leave their women at home and to not tolerate disrespect. They argued the dispute was over the Cossacks wearing the “Texas” bottom rocker patches on their vests without permission from the Bandidos, who claim Texas as their territory.
Gotro flatly disagreed, arguing that it was the Cossacks who started the shootout, that they showed up wearing bulletproof vests and ambushed the Bandidos before they could dismount their motorcycles.
During two days of testimony in his own defense, Carrizal steadfastly denied that he is a criminal or that he is a member of a criminal gang. He downplayed the tough guy persona assumed by bikers that raises the suspicions of law enforcement and the general public, saying the lifestyle is more of a lifelong brotherhood. He noted how the Bandidos often holds charity toy runs for children.
Carrizal denied allegations that he was the one who started shooting, saying he only began shooting in self defense. A former Twin Peaks employee testified last month that the shooting started when a man in a “big yellow helmet” pulled a large “Dirty Harry” gun and shot a biker in front of him. Carrizal’s brother, Chuck Carrizal, later testified his brother owned a yellow biker helmet.
Carrizal admitted under cross-examination by Assistant McLennan County District Attorney Michael Jarrett that he was wearing a yellow helmet, but that there was at least one other person there with a yellow helmet.
He also admitted to lying to police at first about his helmet and about being armed, claiming he was afraid for himself and still coming to terms with what happened.
Carrizal’s defense only lasted three days after Gotro repeatedly complained that prosecutors and law enforcement deliberately failed to turn over evidence. Judge Johnson was forced to recess trial for several days on Nov. 1 after Waco police produced new audio interview evidence. In subsequent motions for continuance and for the charges to be dropped, Gotro argued the new evidence shows the “Texas” bottom rockers were not the cause of the shootout and that it changed how she would have cross-examined prosecution witnesses.