By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
The Davises had two children: daughter Lisa, born in 1971, and son Troy, born in 1975. Jim Davis worked as a title investigator for the Texas Department of Transportation and joined the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department as a reserve deputy. Barbara did secretarial work for several attorneys and in 1982 became a clerk in the Tarrant County District Attorney's office. By 1984 she had been promoted to work with survivors of violent crimes. Four years later she became court coordinator for state District Judge Everett Young.
The marriage was not without its storm clouds. In September of 1982, Bob Davis, living in Houston at the time, received a phone call alerting him that his brother Jim had been shot and was in the hospital. The shooter, he was told, was Jim's wife, Barbara.
At the hospital, where his brother was recovering from wounds to the stomach and leg, Bob Davis learned what had transpired.
According to Bob Davis, his brother had been concerned that Barbara was cheating, and he had confronted her about it one evening. In response, she stormed out of the house and drove to a neighborhood 7-Eleven. Her husband followed Barbara, and found her talking on a pay phone.
"She saw him and ran to her car, got in, and crouched down in the seat," Bob Davis says. "Jim had bought her this little chrome .25 caliber pistol, and she just pointed it out the window and emptied the clip."
With Jim Davis writhing in pain in the parking lot, his wife sped away. "She drove straight to an osteopathic hospital over on [Highway] 183 and checked herself into their loony bin [psych ward]," Bob Davis says.
"Now, Jim tells me all this, how he laid there until an ambulance came, and then asks me if I would go talk to Barbara for him, see if she's OK. I find her, and she wants me to go back and tell Jim that she was never unfaithful to him, how much she loved him, and all that."
Returning to his brother, Bob Davis passed along Barbara's message. "I could tell he was believing her story," Davis says. "A week later he got out of the hospital and went over and picked her up. Jim was a family man and felt whatever it took to make the marriage work, he'd do."
Barbara's account of the motive for the shooting and events that transpired afterward is quite different.
Her husband, she says, had been diagnosed as manic-depressive and was taking Lithium at the time. "I was getting ready to go to UT-Arlington, where I was taking a criminal justice course, and while I was getting dressed I sensed something was wrong with Jim," she recalls. "He was acting strange, and I asked if he was taking his medication. He gave me a hug and a kiss and assured me that he was.
"When I came home at around 8:30, I pulled into the driveway and saw that all the lights in the house were out, and I could hear the song 'War' playing loudly inside." Fearful of what she might find in the house, she decided to drive to a nearby convenience store and phoned the house, she says. "I knew if I could hear his voice I'd know everything was OK. I remember it ringing 13 times with no answer. Then I saw him pulling into the parking lot in his pickup, getting out, and coming toward me with a rifle. He was yelling something like 'Viet Cong...Viet Cong...' over and over."
Her husband, she says, had long been conflicted over the fact that he had been exempted from the draft and thus had not served during the Vietnam conflict.
"I had this little gun he'd gotten me, and I just started shooting. Then I ran into the store and told someone to call 911 because I'd shot my husband."
While she did check herself into Northeast Community Hospital, it was only after a visit to the Richland Hills Police Department in the company of officers investigating the shooting. "They never even cuffed me," she says. "In fact, one of the officers there told me that my husband had called from the hospital and asked that I be told he loved me and not to worry; that everything was OK."
Jim Davis, who his widow says was hospitalized only overnight, later filed an affidavit in which he swore the incident was his fault, and records were ultimately expunged. "Jim and I saw a counselor afterward," she says, "and he promised never to skip his medicine again."
Says Tom Carse, Barbara Davis' attorney, "It's not something that bears any relationship whatsoever to Troy being executed by the North Richland Hills Police Department. This is the Troy Davis case, not the family feud."
You couldn't tell it by listening to Bob Davis.
When Howard Davis died and the family farm was sold, each son -- Bob, Jim, and Dan -- received in excess of $300,000. "We were driving back from picking up the checks," Bob Davis remembers, "and Jim said, 'I've got to do something with this money so Barbara can't get her hands on it.' He kinda laughed and said, 'But if she can't get her hands on it, I'll be dead in two years.'"