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T. Cullen Davis surrounded by defense lawyers Richard Racehorse Haynes, Phil Burleson, Dee Miller, and Mike Gibson. Priscilla Davis Judge George Dowlen LETTER FROM AMARILLO Fort Worth multimillionaire T. Cullen Davis is charged with murder in the death of his twelve-year-old stepdaughter during a midnight shooting spree at the $6 million Davis mansion on Aug. 2, 1976. Four people were shotPriscilla Davis, Cullen’s estranged wile; Stan Farr, her lover; Andrea Wilborn her daughter; and Bubba Gavrel, the 21year-old boyfriend of a girl who had planned that night to visit Priscilla’s other daughter, Dee. Stan Farr and Andrea Wilborn died; Gavrel is partially paralyzed. Priscilla Davis filed for divorce two years before the murders, but a protracted dispute over the division of the couple’s property had stalled the proceedings. The shootings complicated them farther. Cullen Davis, now standing trial in Amarillo, could receive the death penalty if convicted of capital murder in Andrea Wilborn’s death. Eds. Back one time when another cowboy and I were holding down a cowcamp up north of the Canadian River, we sat one night at supper chowing down on some quail we had trapped and I mused aloud that although I wasn’t much for eating fowl I thought I could eat quail three meals a day forever. He bet me a brand new hat I couldn’t eat even one quail a day for a month. I called him mid-bite, though not before I had my hat picked out in my mind. The quail was good rich stuff, but too much the same thing. I lost the bet. In its present jury selection phase, the T. Cullen Davis murder trial, moved here to the far-famed Potter County Courthouse Bigtop on a change of venue from Tarrant County, is like quail at meals daily for too longgood rich stuff, but too much the same thing. The press here welcomed the diet eagerly and started in on it with relish, but after six weeks of the same stuffover one hundred prospective jurors have been asked virtually the same questions; only eleven of the canonical twelve have been selected at this writingall show signs of retching. The reporters, in turn, have infected the reading and listening public with the same malady. But by the time this is published, the trial should have pointless maneuvers suggest the extra, for-show efforts outfielders make to impress management when they crash into the bleachers in pursuit of a foul ball clearly destined for twenty rows up. The opposing lawyers in this serious affair are, from time to time, as eager to please as salary-conscious outfielders. They should have no trouble finding people willing to sit on the Davis jury and be closeted for two months or so. When selection started the sheriff’s department switchboard was clogged with calls from people wanting on the jury. Such a volunteer system could never work since such eagerness would surely grow out of some prejudice. But one noted defense lawyer who lectures to law students that jury selection is the most crucial phase of a criminal trial tells me that 95 percent of jury verdicts would be the same if judges would just seat the first twelve qualified jurors available to them and gavel the trial in session. “Driven nearly buggy” In his present mood, 181st District Judge George Dowlen, who presides over this trial, would probably welcome such a system. Dowlen is an intelligent, fair, even-tempered man, but he has been driven nearly buggy by the redundant questioning. A man noted outside the courtroom for a Will Rogers kind of humor, he has, without much success, attempted to speed things along through cajolery. but with little luck. Up here in cattle and crop country, show is still the greater part of substance, and people take pride in their ability to make snap judgments of others, much in the way they judge the weight, quality, and worth of cattle on the hoof or the potential yield of grain in the field. These habits may have something to do Wyatt McSpadden Buck Ramsey begun with its varied fare, and appetites will have returned. The lawyers encamped here are the same who spent six weeks in Fort Worth selecting eight jurors only to have a mistrial declared after one of them talked too much when he was released from sequestration to attend a funeral. That calls up a coincidence which is my only hard news: there is current talk that sheriff’s bailiffs have allowed jurors already sequestered here to have visitors. If this incredible suggestion is true, there are at least these possibilities: another mistrial could be declared before the hearing of evidence begins; or no one will call for an immediate mistrial, leaving the defense free to use the illegal visitations as grounds for a mistrial if things go badly later. Nearly all trial lawyers, certainly those on both sides here, think themselves shrewd enough to be able to tell within a few minutes whether they should take or strike a prospective juror. Just the same, much time has been spent not only in efforts to disqualify undesirable jurors and keep good ones for the trial, but in occasional attempts to hold onto someone who has flagrantly and irretrievably disqualified himself. These