An attorney for six men arrested in a 2015 shootout between rival biker gangs in Waco that left nine people dead and at least 20 injured is seeking the return of items seized from the nearly 200 bikers who were detained.
Houston attorney Paul Looney asked District Court Judge Vicki Menard Wednesday in a civil petition to assign a special master to supervise the return of the belongings and “make order out of all this chaos,” the Waco Tribune-Herald reported.
Authorities seized items including wallets, cellphones, chains, belt buckles, money and vehicles after the shootout in the parking lot of the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco, according to Looney’s petition.
“There is no reason any of this property should not be returned without delay,” Looney said. “In fact, there is good cause to appoint a special master due to the volume of individual items of property involved, believed to be over 1,000 individual items.”
Law enforcement arrested 177 bikers and charged 155 of them with engaging in organized criminal activity. Prosecutors dropped all charges in April this year.
Tom Needham, McLennan County executive assistant district attorney, noted that there’s no statute of limitations in murder cases, so if murder charges are brought, evidence collected at the scene should be available.
“Murder cases don’t close,” Needham added. “So to the extent we become privy to additional information, however it comes to light, we need to have information that relates to the deceased people and those who may have shot them in order to pursue those murders. Normally, you don’t dispose of evidence in murder cases. That’s how you prosecute cold cases, so we want to maintain proper custody of some of this evidence.”
Judges presiding over civil cases brought by some of the bikers will also have a say in how to deal with the bikers’ belongings, Needham said.
Looney said those judges can issue a protective order if that is the case.
“In civil suits, there is no procedure to hang onto other people’s stuff while the suits are pending. If those courts feel they have a special reason to do so, let them come and argue it,” he said. “But until they do, we need to have something in place to restore these people’s wrongfully taken property.”
Information from: Waco Tribune-Herald, http://www.wacotrib.com