Vehicle forfeiture efforts could be lucrative, but difficult in Twin Peaks shooting
May 24, 2015, 11:32 pm
By J.B. SMITH
As if they weren’t busy enough pursuing charges against some 170 suspects in the deadly Twin Peaks shooting, local criminal justice officials also face the question of what to do with their belongings.
Waco police have impounded about 135 motorcycles and 80 cars and trucks from the parking lot where nine people were shot dead on May 17. Police have said the vehicles were needed for evidence.
It’s possible some of the vehicles could be declared illegal contraband associated with a crime, and ownership transferred to the county through a process known as civil forfeiture. The collective value of the vehicles likely exceeds $1 million, assuming typical vehicle values.
As of Friday afternoon, McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna had not filed any civil forfeiture notices with the McLennan County district clerk. Reyna declined through a spokesperson to discuss this or any other aspect of the Twin Peaks case.
Waco police also have publicly stated that owners can request their vehicles back by calling the police department at 750-5700. Sgt. W. Patrick Swanton told the Tribune-Herald on Friday that he had no information on any vehicles that may have been released.
“However, if they are not evidence, people are certainly able to come get them,” he said in a text message.
But Reyna is known for aggressive pursuit of civil forfeiture, and defense attorneys are watching his moves in this case where so much property is at stake and so many owners are in jail.
About 170 still jailed
Some 170 people remain in the McLennan County Jail, each on $1 million bond, on charges of engaging in organized criminal activity in the Twin Peaks shooting. But, the arrest warrant affidavits are practically identical and don’t point to any one person’s specific role in the shootings.