The Private Trial of Donald Davis

A Houston attorney who specialized in saving killers' lives couldn't handle his own. So he took it.

Veteran homicide investigators who spoke with the Presssay the autopsy report raises no red flags with them. However, they point out that in most gun-related male suicides, the victim shoots himself in the head; women and gay men are more likely to shoot themselves in the stomach.

Davis's family in Grambling plans to ask Houston Police Chief C.O. Bradford to reopen the investigation. (The Press contacted Wayne Arnold's wife, who referred all questions to her husband, but the paper was unable to reach either Arnold, Johnson or Sergeant Tom Ladd, the homicide investigator who conducted the department's probe.)


Houston police officer Randy Carodine and Donald Davis were more like brothers than cousins.
Deron Neblett
Houston police officer Randy Carodine and Donald Davis were more like brothers than cousins.
Houston police officer Randy Carodine and Donald Davis were more like brothers than cousins.
Deron Neblett
Houston police officer Randy Carodine and Donald Davis were more like brothers than cousins.

Randy Carodine is not sure what to think about the death of Donald Davis. Like the other members of the Davis family, he can't help but have his doubts. But for the most part, he believes the tragedy is what it seems to be: a suicide.

"I don't think I've come to grips with it yet," says Carodine. "I've had to be strong for his family."

Davis's other family members -- the people at the criminal courthouse -- also are trying to come to terms with the death. In September, in response to Davis's death, the Harris County Criminal Lawyers Association hosted a seminar in Houston titled "Coping with the Practice," which focused on helping attorneys spot fellow lawyers on the edge, or realize when they are out there on that ledge themselves.

But the grieving continues. At Davis's funeral, attorney Connie Williams, who shared office space with Davis, told mourners that he could always count on Davis to have his back. Robert Morrow, in the three minutes he was allowed to speak, said he remembered the things Davis could do in three minutes: cross-examine a witness, decide whether he liked a prospective juror and make a spaghetti dinner.

As for Carodine, he continues to hear rumors that Davis was dying of cancer or had AIDS. Rarely a day goes by that someone doesn't ask him about Davis or say that they miss him.

"And it's almost like I want people to ask, because I feel myself getting depressed," says the police officer. "But I sit there and think about what I would be doing if he was there. I miss watching The Practice and calling him to say, "Oh, those no-good attorneys.' Then NYPD Blue would come on, and he'd call me and say, "Oh, those no-good police officers.' To this day, I still e-mail him. I haven't taken his phone number out of my automatic dial. I know he's gone, but..."

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