Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy

Cullen Tempts Fate

T. Cullen Davis kept a low profile in the months following his acquittal. He would occasionally talk to reporters about the case, but for the most part he had little to say.

The prosecutors saw their strongest case go up in flames when their star witness had her reputation already not one of Texass best flayed by Racehorse Haynes. If they couldnt convict Davis in the killing of a 12-year-old girl, they were very likely not going to bring a guilty verdict in the killing of the lover of the defendants wife. The assault charges against Bubba and Bev Bass were even less likely to put Cullen behind bars. The prosecutors seemed resigned to the fact that Cullen was probably going to walk free forever.

Then he presented them with a second chance.

On August 20, 1978, a year to the day from the opening arguments of his murder trial, Cullen Davis was observed meeting with FBI informant David McCrory, who had approached the bureau with the astonishing allegation that Cullen had hired him to kill more than a dozen people on an enemies list. Among the targets were Priscilla, Bev, Bubba, and the judge who was overseeing the still-unresolved divorce process.

A picture shown to Davis as proof that Judge Eidson had been killed

McCrory was wearing a pair of microphones as he presented Cullen with evidence that Judge Joe Eidson had been killed. McCrory had a photograph of Eidson in a blood-soaked T-shirt with powder burns lying in a car trunk. He presented Davis with Eidsons judicial ID and drivers license.

I got Judge Eidson dead for you, McCrory said.

Good, Cullen replied.

Cullen handed McCrory an envelope containing $25,000 cash.

Ill get the rest of them dead for you. You want a bunch of people dead, right?

All right, Davis is heard replying on the tape.

Within 45 minutes of the conversation, T. Cullen Davis was back behind bars, this time charged with solicitation to commit murder. The case was even more open-and-shut than the previous one and prosecutors quickly went to trial. Cullen stuck with Racehorse Haynes, who had been able to sew a silk purse from the last crop of sows ears. This time, Hayness fee would top $2 million.

McCrory had started out as an investigator for Cullens divorce and said Cullen approached him about hiring a hit man.

He said he was going ahead with a plan to kill [Bev], McCrory testified. And youre going to help me and hire someone to do it.

Davis promised to pay from $25,000 to $200,000 for the killings, McCrory said.

There were several plans, McCrory testified.

The first one was to have someone hide in the bushes at Bev Basss house and shoot her, put her in the trunk of a car, take her off, cut her body up and leave it in an area where it would never be found, he said. Another plan would be to shoot her with a shotgunmake it look like narcotics. Theyd think it was drug-related.

David McCrory testifies at the second Cullen Davis trial

Instead of hiring a hit man, McCrory went to the FBI, which set up the sting.

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