Waco Judges Gone Wild: Bikers Released, Rearrested and Released Again

AP Photo
AP Photo

Judges who originally set $1 million dollar bonds for Waco Twin Peaks bikers had three of them re-arrested after they bonded out on reduced bonds. Their bonds were reset to $1 million, but they were able to bond out again.

The three men, Juan Garcia, Drew King, and James Harris, are all from Austin.

The Austin American-Statesman reported that Garcia is a 45-year old engineer with the city of Austin public works department. He is on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of his charges and an investigation by the city.

The men were released last week after they were given lower bond amounts because their charges had been reduced. The men had been charged with offenses which carried a criminal penalty of less than the first degree felony of “engaging in organized criminal activity” – the charge given to the other bikers of the 170 arrested.

Agreements were reported to have been made between the McLennan County District Attorney’s Office and defense attorneys for the bikers. The men were charged with a state jail felony instead of a first degree felony charge, and their bonds were set between $20,000 and $50,000.

According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, state district judges Matt Johnson and Ralph Strother found out that the men had been released on reduced bonds, and Strother found the bonds insufficient and issued arrest warrants for the men. Their charges were upgraded and their bonds reset to $1 million.

The judges also issued an order that no bonds can be reduced for the bikers without approval by one of the district judges.

The men judges approved $25,000 bonds but ordered that the men must stay out of McLennan County and not associate with biker groups. They also have to wear ankle monitors and keep strict curfews. They were all reported to claim innocence saying they were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Breitbart Texas reported that an attorney out of Austin, Texas has filed motions to remove the three McLennan County judges who set and retained the $1 million bonds. He argued that the judges have demonstrated bias and should be recused from making future rulings.

A recusal motion had been filed asking that Justice of the Peace W.H. “Pete” Peterson be recused because he not only set $1 million bonds for 174 bikers, but added he was doing so to “send a message.” According to the Waco Tribune, Peterson said “I think it is important to send a message… We had nine people killed in our community. These people just came in, and most of them were from out of town. Very few of them were from in town.”

Motions to remove Judges Johnson and Strother had also been filed because they approved the $1 million bonds, and ordered no other judge could rule on motions to reduce the bonds.

These bonds have been decried by well-regarded criminal lawyers, and the Texas Criminal Defense Lawyers Association as “absurd” and “unconstitutional.”

Bail bondsmen have called the bonds improperly “punitive” and “astronomical” saying bonds are set to guarantee the appearance of a person in court, not punish them.

The motions to recuse the judges were sent to the Regional Administrative Judge, Billy Ray Stubblefield of Georgetown, Texas.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.