Prediction: Many Bikers Charged In Waco Shootout Will End Up Going Free


After a gunfight between rival motorcycle gangs outside a crowded Waco, Tx., restaurant left nine dead, police rounded up everyone on the scene wearing biker vests. As 174 people sit in jail on organized crime charges, legal experts tell the Dallas Morning News prosecutors face a massive challenge, and many of those arrested could end up going free. “They have bitten off more than they can chew,” said Robert Draskovich, a Las Vegas criminal defense lawyer who represents bikers. “Prosecutors often overreach and charge too many people, but I've never seen it to this extent.”

To prove the current charges, which have capital murder as the underlying crime, prosecutors must show each defendant took part in the shootout. Although the law allows for broad interpretation of participation, experts say the case is muddled by Texas' strong self-defense and gun rights laws, as well as issues with witness cooperation and credibility. The McLennan County district attorney's office won't say how its 26 prosecutors plan to tackle the case. Experts predicted they will divide the defendants into groups, offer plea deals to the less culpable suspects and try only the ones against whom they have the best evidence. “When these things happen, you just have to rise to the occasion,” said Jack Choate of the Texas District and County Attorneys Association. “It's definitely doable, but it's just going to take up a lot of court time and a lot of extra, over-and-above work.”

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