Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy

Trial Within a Trial

When the trial was moved to Amarillo, Tarrant County Sheriff Lon Evans called his Potter County counterpart to put in a good word for his friend Cullen Davis.

I was permitted outside my cell every day, Cullen recalled years later. He also enjoyed a freedom seldom seen for defendants who faced a possible death penalty. He was taken once for cocktails at the home of a defense lawyer after a visit to a local chiropractor.

Another time, left alone in an office near the radio room outside the lock-up area, Cullen even answered the phone when the deputies were away.

Meanwhile, the waitress at the Executive Inn, where the jurors were sequestered, kept the defense team well informed about the conversations of the jurors, who werent supposed to be talking about the case at all, let alone to an outsider.

She was constantly telling me we didnt have anything to worry about, Hudson said. She told me day after day they were all on our side.

Haynes was aggressive, but not overly so during the early prosecution witnesses. He grilled Bev Bass and Bubba Gavrel extensively, but it was clear he was holding back the big guns for the day Priscilla Davis took the stand.

When Priscilla arrived for her first day of cross-examination, she already had a pretty good idea of what to expect from Haynes. The defense had vociferously objected to much of her direct testimony in the days before and prosecutors had warned her that she, not Cullen, was going to be on trial when Haynes got a hold of her.

The cross-examination was direct and brutal. Haynes attempted to introduce a photograph of Priscilla and a former boyfriend posing in various states of undress. The boyfriend was wearing only a red, white and blue sock over his genitals. The judge ruled the photo was irrelevant.

For nearly a week, Haynes kept Priscilla on the stand, calling her the corrupter of young people, the Machiavellian influence behind this whole thing, the lady in the la-di-dah pinafore.

He accused her of taking part in orgies, of being addicted to Percodan which she only started taking after the shooting and of orchestrating the whole thing to get her hands on Cullens millions. He forced her to admit sharing her bed with a biker and a drug dealer before taking up with Stan Farr.

Haynes explored the possibility that Farr was the real target that night and that either Priscilla had wanted him dead or some unknown drug dealers had pulled the trigger. Priscilla denied that she wanted to end her relationship with Farr to take up with a teenager she had met at a pot party.

When Haynes finished with her, the jury had practically forgotten that her own daughter had been murdered, wrote Skip Hollandsworth.

Priscilla had been on trial for 13 days and by the time it was finished Haynes had transformed her into the biggest slut in the state, a reporter wrote criticizing Haynes courtroom demeanor.

When her testimony was over and she left the courtroom, some of the women in the audience hissed at her.

One observer was overheard by reporters to say, I can tell shes guilty just by looking at her, clearly forgetting who was on trial for murder.

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