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Final Justice: The True Story of the Richest Man Ever Tried for Murder Hardcover – September 8, 1993


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Amazon.com Review

This story is remarkable not for the actual amount of money that T. Cullen Davis had, but for the way in which he was allowed to spend it during his murder trial. Not only did he bring into Dallas the best, the flashiest, and the most vindictive defense attorney money could buy, he also was allowed to turn the whole trial into an unbelievable (at least outside of Texas) circus in which even the jury members were treated to prime steaks every night, courtesy of the defendant. Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith deliver this tale with both tact and panache: they discover the sad substance beneath the surface glitter, they bring to life the many eccentric characters involved, and they have a fine sense of the absurd. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Most true crime tales are brutal and sad, but the case of Cullen Davis is doubly wrenching because it is also a story of justice miscarried. Cullen was one of three sons of Kenneth ("Stinky") Davis, who built a Texas empire and amassed a fortune by questionable means. Brutalized by his father throughout his childhood, Cullen grew into a shy, introverted adolescent and a monstrous adult. In 1976 in Forth Worth, he was accused of wounding his second wife, Priscilla, with whom he was wrangling over a divorce, and her friend, Beverly Bass, and of killing Priscilla's 12-year-old daughter, Andrea, and Bass's boyfriend, Bubba Gavrel. Acquitted, Cullen was subsequently in the courts again in two murder-for-hire trials, both cases ending in hung juries. He has never been convicted, thanks to a legal staff that eventually numbered 30 and the expenditure of perhaps $20 million, the authors show. Others have written about this classic case, but none so searchingly as have Naifeh and Smith, who previously collaborated on The Mormon Murders and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Jackson Pollock . Cynically, they conclude that Cullen had the right of it when he bragged that "Money can buy anything." Photos not seen by PW .
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; 1st edition (September 8, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525934529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525934523
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #577,116 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Gregory White Smith and Steven Naifeh are graduates of Harvard Law School.

Mr. Naifeh, who has written for art periodicals and has lectured at numerous museums including the National Gallery of Art, studied art history at Princeton and did his graduate work at the Fogg Art Museum of Harvard University.

Together they have written many books on art and other subjects, including four New York Times bestsellers. Their biography Jackson Pollock: An American Saga won the Pulitzer Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Award. It also inspired the Academy Award-winning 2000 film Pollock starring Ed Harris and Marcia Gay Harden as well as John Updike's novel Seek My Face.

Naifeh and Smith have been profiled in The New Yorker, The New York Times, USA Today, and People, and have appeared on 60 Minutes, The Oprah Winfrey Show, Larry King Live, Charlie Rose, and the Today show.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 16, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
At the time of the Davis murders, I was living in Fort Worth and had a second-hand acquaintance with some of the people involved. Smith and Naifeh got it exactly right: not merely the facts but the "feel" of the case. Texas is a microcosm of the U.S., with all our best and worst qualities exaggerated. The Davis case exemplified our fascination with sex and sleaze, our love/hate relationship with the wealthy, and a legal system that's as much showmanship as The Majesty Of The Law -- and the results were an ironic commentary on what we truly value. (Somehow, the fact that Priscilla Davis was a mother whose 12-year-old daughter was brutally murdered got lost in the shuffle.) The book is engrossing and truly scary, and I highly recommend it.
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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Dennis Littrell HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 26, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a fascinating and disturbing tale that illustrates just how hard it is to convict somebody who has a lot of money and power. Cullen Davis, warped little rich boy dominated by his incredibly wealthy and megalomanic father, grows up to inherit most of the fortune and position. What does he do with it? He chases sex kitten type women, showers them with lavish gifts, and abuses them.

Naifeh and Smith raise the true crime genre to something close to literature here. We have the usual litany of sickies and psychopaths, the usual police incompetence, prosecutors who can't prosecute, etc. The "final justice" in the title is somewhat ironic since multimillionaire Cullen Davis is never found guilty of any of his crimes, the worst of which was the cold-blooded murder of his wife's 12-year-old daughter; the least of which, perhaps the killing of her kitten. The juries in Texas just would not convict him (although they have put a number of poor people on death row). Instead they admired him for his money, stupidly since he just inherited it. And before the book is over, he blows most of it.

We get a terrible sense here that people with riches in positions of power really can get away with murder. People look up to them regardless of their crimes. It helps us to understand how murderers like Sadaam Hussein and what's his name in Yugoslavia continue in power. It's not just that people are afraid of them, they look up to them and find ways to excuse their crimes. This is the human tribal mind at work: better our corrupt and evil leader than theirs, and better a corrupt and evil leader than no leader at all. The women in this one come off as particularly subject to manipulation by power and money, although that was not necessarily the authors' intent.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Panage2000 on October 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had seen the lifetime movie a while back and wanted to learn more about the crime. This book leaves nothing untruned. I was so greatful to find it (tried all the book stores to no avail). You will not want to put it down!!! It was just so incrediably good!!! You think stuff like this never happens in real life!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve Reina VINE VOICE on March 8, 2013
Format: Mass Market Paperback
On August 2 1976 Texas oilman Cullen Davis was worth 100 million dollars.

It was in part to salvage as much of this wealth as he could that he went to home occupied by divorcing spouse, Prisilla Davis that day. He took with him a weapon. And he used that weapon killing Davis' 12 year old daughter Andrea and Davis' boyfriend Stan Farr. At that time he also shot Priscilla who was able to flee the scene because in his gunplay Davis had emptied his weapon.

In 528 pages, this book, by Pulitzer Prize winning authors Steven Naifeh and Gregory White Smith, tells the story of how Cullen Davis used his millions to outmanuever justice winning no less than four different jury trials. The first trial, for murder, resulted in a quick acquittal. The second and third trials related to allegations where Cullen Davis was accused of trying to have his wife and others (including the judge presiding over his divorce trial) killed. Ultimately he was also acquitted of these charges. Finally the last trial was for civil damages owing to the death of his wife's daughter Andrea, which resulted in a hung jury...again the equivalent of another Cullen Davis victory.

It doesn't take long into this book for Cullen Davis to surrender his starring role to Attorney Richard "Racehorse" Haynes the lawyer who piloted him to victory in three out of four of his wins (by the time of the fourth case, the civil one, Davis could no longer afford Haynes). In this book one discovers a Racehorse acting and being pretty much like what one would expect...sleazy, unethical and basically willing to win at any cost as long as he was paid any price.

In all the book makes for sobering reading.

In the end the book describes Cullen Davis' final fall when he at last loses his millions but by that time Davis was able to so abuse the justice system that one can only wonder whether that even begins to give him the punishment he deserves.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 3, 1999
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is really, the most precise account of the murders and trials. Some of the other books on the murder trials of Mr. Davis are very goddy and don't focus on the facts of the case. I really think that Mr. Naifeh did an excellent job with the content and details of this novel.I hope that people will not simply judge a case or story by one book, and know that you must have a numerous amount of facts and reality before you try to judge someone or something.
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