Famed Hous­ton lawyer Richard ‘Race­horse’ Haynes dies

Cape Breton Post - - In Memoriam -

Hous­ton lawyer Richard “Race­horse’’ Haynes, famed for his flam­boy­ant but suc­cess­ful trial de­fences of mil­lion­aire and bil­lion­aire clients in some of Texas’ most no­to­ri­ous mur­der cases, has died at age 90.

Haynes died early Fri­day at his home sur­rounded by fam­ily in the East Texas town of Trin­ity af­ter years of de­clin­ing health, said fam­ily spokesman Chris Tritico, a Hous­ton crim­i­nal de­fence lawyer Haynes once men­tored.

Ini­tial fame came when Haynes de­fended wealthy Hous­ton plas­tic sur­geon John Hill at trial over the 1969 slay­ing of Hill’s so­cialite wife, Joan Robin­son Hill, whom in­ves­ti­ga­tors said died af­ter eat­ing an eclair se­cretly laced with E. coli bac­te­ria.

The 1971 trial ended in a hung jury _ but Hill was gunned down in the drive­way of his man­sion be­fore he could be re­tried. The case was the sub­ject of Thomas Thompson’s best­selling book “Blood and Money,’’ which later was made into the 1981 film “Mur­der in Texas’’ star­ring Sam El­liott and Far­rah Fawcett.

Haynes later rep­re­sented Fort Worth oil­man T. Cullen Davis, the first bil­lion­aire to be in­dicted for mur­der in the United

States. Davis was ac­cused of open­ing fire inside his man­sion in 1976, killing his 12-year-old step­daugh­ter, An­drea Wil­born, and his es­tranged wife’s boyfriend, Stan Farr. His es­tranged wife, Priscilla, and fam­ily friend Gus Gavrel Jr. were wounded in shoot­ings.

The first trial ended in a mis­trial be­cause of ju­ror mis­con­duct. The sec­ond ended in an ac­quit­tal in 1977.

Davis was later in­dicted on a cap­i­tal mur­der so­lic­i­ta­tion charge, ac­cused of try­ing to ar­range a hit on his es­tranged wife and the judge in their di­vorce case. Haynes won an ac­quit­tal of Davis in that case, too.

On Fri­day, Davis re­called Haynes’ cross-ex­am­i­na­tions in his tri­als, how he never let up if dis­sat­is­fied with wit­ness re­sponses or a judge’s rul­ing.

“I was think­ing about him yes­ter­day,’’ Davis, now 83, told the Fort Worth Star-Tele­gram. “He wouldn’t give up even when the judge tried to get him to quit ask­ing the ques­tion, and he fi­nally would get the an­swer he wanted.’’

For­mer prose­cu­tor Jack Strick­land tried the cases against Davis, with Haynes at the de­fence ta­ble.


At­tor­ney Richard “Race­horse” Haynes speaks at a state bar as­so­ci­a­tion con­ven­tion in 1988.

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