Cullen Davis: A Night of Murder for the Richest Man in Texas
In his latest Caprock Chronicle, Chuck Lanehart uncovers the drama, crimes and trial of Cullen Davis. The son of a legendary oilman who inherited a fortune, Davis created a lavish lifestyle in Fort Worth until it came crashing down.
On the night of August 2, 1976, Cullen would be accused of attempted murder of his wife, murder of his stepdaughter, murder of his wife’s boyfriend and attempted murder of another friend. Despite the killing spree in his own mansion, Cullen would post a cash bond of $80,000 and was free the next day.
Like many other “celebrity” and high publicity cases, the district attorney was under intense pressure for justice. The charges were eventually upgraded to capital murder, to deny bond. The criminal defendant, Cullen Davis was a flight risk and was about to get on a private jet out of the country when he was arrested and held without bond for capital murder.
The trial date was set for 1977 in Amarillo. The venue was changed from Fort Worth, to a small city in the Texas panhandle to find a fair and impartial jury. One of the most regarded criminal defense attorneys for winning impossible cases, was hired by Davis, Richard “Racehorse” Hayne.
Hayne would justify his high fees after seven days of cross examination of the medical examiner. Afterward, the jury was left with ignoring scientific evidence, relying instead on testimony from Priscilla, the wife of Cullen Davis. A second eye witness at the home was called to the stand who’s boyfriend was paralyzed by Davis on the night of August 2, 1976.
Despite two eyewitnesses, the Amarillo jury ultimately found Cullen Davis not guilty! This case shows how the power of the media can impact a criminal trial. How a criminal defendant looks, their background, story and wealth can captivate a jury. It also reveals how the credibility of eyewitnesses can be tarnished by experienced criminal defense attorneys.
Read the full story for all the juicy details and to learn the fate of Cullen Davis and his wife. There is a lot more to unpack in this Caprock Chronicle.