CHAPEL HILL, Texas — One of three men who police say were involved in the shooting death of an East Texas motorcyclist in May 2020 pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 22 years in prison Monday.
Jeffery Ryan Griffin, 32, of Robinson, entered a guilty plea to engaging in organized crime in the 114th District Court in connection with the death of Brandon Edwards, 33, of Ben Wheeler.
Edwards was found shot to death in the 16400 block of FM 850 in Chapel Hill on May 2, 2020 after multiple shots were fired at his motorcycle while he was chased by a truck, according to police documents.
Following his plea, Griffin’s sentence of 22 years was handed down and he received 664 days of credit for time served in the Smith County Jail, according to court records.
Joshua Ray Tibbits, of Waco, and Jose Antonio Valenzuela, of Longview, are also charged with organized crime in this case. However, no upcoming court dates are currently set.
An arrest affidavit states Edwards, Valenzuela, Griffin and Tibbits were all a part of a motorcycle club.
At the beginning of the investigation, the East Texas Anti-Gang Center was notified because Edwards had on a jacket worn by members of 1%er Cossacks Motorcycle Club Rose City Chapter. The affidavit referred to the organization as Cossacks Motorcycle Gang.
Security footage shows a truck following Edwards’ motorcycle just before he was shot. Witnesses heard gunshots, the affidavit states.
Working with information from an interview, detectives located a Facebook page connected to Valenzuela that showed a similar vehicle to the truck from which Edwards was shot.
In an interview with detectives, Valenzuela said he was a Cossack club member for seven years throughout East Texas and is now the Regional Sergeant at Arms. He said he keeps all of his chapters in check and makes sure they’re abiding by the “Original Cossack way,” according to the document.
Detectives told Valenzuela about the security footage of the suspected vehicle driving behind Edwards’ motorcycle. He immediately said, “that’s not my truck, it just looks like my truck,” according to the affidavit.
The affidavit says several members of the Original Cossacks Motorcycle Club — including Tibbits and Griffin — had been at Valenzuela’s home before the shooting.