Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy

Racehorse Haynes

Richard Haynes was born and raised poor, the son of a San Antonio, Texas, plasterer. He worked summers in the oil fields before winning a scholarship to the University of Houston. College was interrupted twice by military service, first in the Navy, where he was decorated for heroics at Iwo Jima, then as an Army paratrooper. He graduated from Bates College of Law in 1956, and set himself up in private practice. "I think it's part of his ego he has to do everything just a little differently," said Naomi Haynes, his wife of 27 years and the mother of their four children.

Racehorse earned his nickname back in junior high school when he played football. A protégé of the legendary Percy Foreman who defended, among 1,000 other accused killers, James Earl Ray, Racehorse never shied away from the big cases. It was Foreman who encouraged Ray to plead guilty to avoid dying in Tennessees electric chair. But Haynes was well-known in his own right. Time magazine once referred to him as one of the top six criminal lawyers in America and shortly before Cullens trial, Haynes was asked by a reporter if he was the best criminal defense lawyer in Texas.

James Earl Ray
James Earl Ray (AP)
  
He barely paused before replying, I believe I am. Then, he immodestly added, I wonder why you restrict it to Texas.

Haynes successfully defended John Hill, a Houston plastic surgeon accused of murdering his socialite wife by letting her die after she ate allegedly poisoned French pastries that he served her.

Despite his nickname, Haynes is more of a bulldog in appearance than a racehorse, although at 50 years old during the trial of Cullen Davis, he bobbed and weaved and skittered around the courtroom with the agility of a greyhound.

Haynes would receive at least $1 million for defending Davis, but he didnt take the case for the money. He was the type of lawyer who loved a challenge and a man facing capital murder charges with three eyewitnesses was just the type of scrap Haynes looked for.

I met the man [Davis], and I like him, Haynes told reporters as he prepared for the trial. I like the direct look in his eye. Id like to do what I can to assist him in his difficulties.

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