T. Cullen Davis

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Thomas Cullen Davis (born September 22, 1933 in Fort Worth, Texas) is an American oil heir. He was acquitted of the murders of his stepdaughter and his estranged wife's boyfriend, then hiring a hitman to kill his estranged wife and a judge. A billionaire at the time, he is the wealthiest man to have stood trial for murder in the United States.

Early Life[edit]

Thomas Cullen Davis was born on September 22, 1933, in Fort Worth, Texas. He was the second son of Kenneth William "Stinky" Davis and Alice Mae Bound. His father founded and owned Kendavis Industries International, Inc., which at the time of his death was an $800 million conglomerate.

Davis' first marriage was to Sandra Masters on August 29, 1962, in Tarrant County. The couple had two sons Cullen, Jr. and Brian Davis.

Davis' second marriage was to Priscilla Lee Childers Baker Wilborn. They were married on August 29, 1968, only hours after the death of his father. She had a daughter, Dee, from her first marriage to Jasper Baker. In 1959 she married Jack Wilborn, a Houston car dealer, and they had a son, Jackie, and a daughter, Andrea Wilborn.

Davis' third marriage was to Karen Master on June 5, 1979, in Fort Worth. Davis adopted Trey Davis and Chesley Davis, Karen Master's two sons from a previous marriage.

Criminal trials[edit]

In August 1976, Davis was charged with the murder of his estranged wife's boyfriend, Stan Farr, and her daughter, Andrea Wilborn. Davis' wife, Priscilla Davis, had filed for divorce in 1974, but in 1976 the divorce proceedings were still ongoing and the divorce had not been made official.[1] Farr and Wilborn had been shot dead, and Davis' wife Priscilla wounded, by a gunman who entered their home in Fort Worth on August 2, 1976.[2] In November 1977, after what has been called "one of the most expensive murder investigations and trials in Texas history,"[3] a jury found Davis not guilty.[4] The children of Stan Farr later sued Davis for wrongful death and were awarded $250,000 in a settlement.[5]

In 2004, Billy "Sonny" Vickers, [6] a man sentenced to death in an unrelated case, confessed that he had been the person who murdered Farr and Wilborn. His claim, and the fact that he had been convicted multiple times of burglary with force and was on death row for a murder committed during a burglary that generally matched the Davis case, seemed to settle the issue of Cullen Davis' innocence in the case. Vickers was executed a week after confessing. [7] [8]

In 1978, Davis was arrested again, this time for allegedly hiring a hitman to murder his wife Priscilla, as well as the judge overseeing their ongoing divorce litigation.[9] The case hinged around a tape-recorded conversation between Davis and an undercover employee posing as a hitman, during which Davis was alleged to have asked the undercover employee to murder his wife; this trial, Texas v. Davis, has been called one of the first uses of forensic discourse analysis of tape-recorded evidence in a legal setting.[10] A discourse analyst testified that Davis' words in the tape did not constitute solicitation of murder;[10] and Davis was ultimately acquitted.[11]

Later life[edit]

According to truTV, Davis lost most of his oil fortune in the recession of the 1980s, and eventually declared bankruptcy. Cullen and Karen Davis sold their home to a real estate developer in 1984. The 300 acre property has been fully developed.

Priscilla Davis died of breast cancer on February 19, 2001.[12]

According to the profile on Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege, and Justice entitled Oil, Money, and Mystery and on A&E's American Justice, Cullen Davis is a born-again Christian.

In books and television[edit]

A book on the murder trials entitled Blood Will Tell: The Murder Trials of T. Cullen Davis (ISBN 0-15-169961-5) was written by Gary Cartwright and published by Harcourt in 1979.

A book on Cullen Davis, Texas vs. Davis (ISBN 0-451-17054-7), was written by Mike Cochran. Davis was also the subject of the book Texas Justice by Cartwright, which was made into a TV movie starring Peter Strauss as Cullen and Heather Locklear as Priscilla.

The case was covered in a chapter of Creating Language Crimes (ISBN 978-0195181661) by Roger W. Shuy, a linguistics professor who was a witness in the case.

The case has been profiled on TruTV's Dominick Dunne's Power, Privilege and Justice - Oil, Money, and Mystery, A&E's American Justice as well as on Investigation Discovery's Behind Mansion Walls.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Gribben, Mark. "T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy". Notorious Murders. Retrieved 28 October 2008.  Page 2.
  2. ^ Gribben, Mark. "T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy". Notorious Murders. Retrieved 28 October 2008.  Page 1.
  3. ^ Gribben, Mark. "T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy". Notorious Murders. Retrieved 28 October 2008. 
  4. ^ Gribben, Mark. "T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy". Notorious Murders. Retrieved 28 October 2008.  Page 8.
  5. ^ Maidment, Paul (09/14/07). "All The Money In The World: Criminally Rich". Forbes.com. 
  6. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4091255/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/texas-death-row-inmate-admits-morekillings/#.UKv-dYZSNkw
  7. ^ "Vickers, Billy #999087" (28 January 2004). Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Retrieved on 28 October 2008.
  8. ^ http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4091255/ns/us_news-crime_and_courts/t/texas-death-row-inmate-admits-morekillings/#.UKv-dYZSNkw
  9. ^ Shuy, Roger W (2001). "Discourse Analysis in the Legal Context." In The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Eds. Deborah Schiffrin, Deborah Tannen, and Heidi E. Hamilton. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 438.
  10. ^ a b Shuy, Roger W (2001). "Discourse Analysis in the Legal Context." In The Handbook of Discourse Analysis. Eds. Deborah Schiffrin, Deborah Tannen, and Heidi E. Hamilton. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing. 439.
  11. ^ Gribben, Mark. "T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy". Notorious Murders. Retrieved 28 October 2008.  Page 9.
  12. ^ Gribben, Mark. "T. Cullen Davis: The Best Justice Money Can Buy". Notorious Murders. Retrieved 28 October 2008. . Page 12.