Oklahoma Railroad

Accused of killing a cop's son, Emily Dowdy learns the hard way that in Oklahoma City justice isn't blind. It works for the prosecution.

Dallas-area toxicologist Gary Wimbish testified outside the presence of the jury that Dowdy's blood alcohol wasn't high enough to account for someone driving the wrong way on the interstate for two miles.

Wimbish believed Dowdy had been slipped GHB sometime before midnight, "had lost her will" and was given more to drink. At the time of the accident, Dowdy was functioning "robotically" because of the double whammy of alcohol and GHB. As for evidence of the GHB, Wimbish pointed to:

··· Dowdy's "pristine" memory loss, inconsistent with alcohol blackout or head trauma--Dowdy described it like the loss of memory she'd had when previously given surgical anesthetic

Emily Dowdy graduated with honors from Hillsboro High School in 1991. At right, Dowdy went blond at Oklahoma University.
Emily Dowdy graduated with honors from Hillsboro High School in 1991. At right, Dowdy went blond at Oklahoma University.
Charlie and Nancy Jackson spent more than $140,000 
defending their daughter; 45 percent came from 
supporters and fund-raisers, the rest from loans and 
their savings.
Tom Jenkins
Charlie and Nancy Jackson spent more than $140,000 defending their daughter; 45 percent came from supporters and fund-raisers, the rest from loans and their savings.

··· Dowdy's disappearance from the bar between midnight and the accident

··· Hillin's dramatic symptoms, which were consistent with GHB, not the quantity of alcohol she had consumed

The prosecutors countered with the fact that Hillin got violently sick well before Dowdy's memory loss, but GHB is notorious for affecting people in different ways. Alcohol exacerbates symptoms, and Hillin had consumed two gin-and-tonics by the time they reached the club. Dowdy had no alcohol in her system.

And it was impossible to say which drinks were dosed, the cocktails or the shots. (Jägermeister and Goldschlager are notorious for being used by GHB rapists because the strong taste disguises the drug.) Did each woman drink the same amount of their cocktails? Did each drink get the same dose? Caswell would allow none of it, repeatedly admonishing defense attorney Williams to present only facts that could be proven, not "speculation" of how GHB might have affected Dowdy.

But when it came to the prosecution, Caswell allowed Miller and Smotherman to elicit testimony from witnesses that it is "common" for drunken drivers to say they had only two drinks, that criminal defendants lie and that Dowdy's memory loss could have been caused by anything from alcoholic blackout to head trauma. All rank speculation.

Caswell barred any testimony about involuntary intoxication because "there has been no evidence presented by this defendant that proves beyond a reasonable doubt that this defendant had GHB in her system."

Caswell's conduct at times was surreal. At one point, the judge refused to let Williams recall a witness "just because you forgot to ask them a question." Williams hadn't forgotten; the judge had barred her from doing so. Williams flailed about, stymied by the judge, prosecutors and her inexperience in criminal trials. Damaging evidence was admitted; mitigating evidence was excluded.

Inexplicably, Williams had called off investigator Frye. (Williams couldn't be reached for comment.) No one interviewed the Crosswinds' doorman, the bar's security guards, the other bartender or the female bar-back. And Williams had interviewed few of the witnesses. But Miller and Smotherman had contacted key people and prepped them for the witness stand.

Dan Gallant, Dowdy's former supervisor, thought he was going to be subpoenaed by the defense. "I thought Emily was a great girl," Gallant says. "She had a great personality, was friendly, very upbeat. She was going to college and did the normal college things."

But he was contacted by Miller, who told him Dowdy was claiming she was a teetotaler. Gallant knew that wasn't true, so he agreed to testify. (Miller was on vacation and couldn't be reached for comment.)

Miller also contacted Scott Perry, a self-described "fair-weather friend" who had gone on a ski trip with Dowdy and seven others, to ask about Dowdy's finances. "They [the prosecutors] were really trying to imply that she was easy," Perry later told Frye, "that she'd gotten her money in unscrupulous ways and...they were really trying to tear her down."

Perry had his own opinions about Dowdy. Though he hadn't seen her in a year, in his opinion, Dowdy didn't seem contrite. And she'd invited Perry to meet her socially at Brothers. He thought Dowdy's working there was "inappropriate" because it served alcohol.

Both Gallant and Perry would give damaging testimony, but the most important witness was Hillin.

Down for the Count

Katie Hillin, 28, now works for an event planner. But in 1999, she worked at the postal training center. Hillin didn't care for most of her co-workers, but she liked Dowdy. Everybody liked Dowdy, who was upbeat, outgoing, friendly and nonjudgmental.

Hillin's memory of the evening tracks closely with Dowdy's until she got sick. Neither woman has a good sense of timing for events that night. After they went to the dance floor with their cocktails--"it could have been an hour; it could have been 15 minutes"--Hillin felt suddenly hot, then very nauseated.

"I felt really, really drunk," Hillin says. "I've been intoxicated, but not like that. I couldn't even stand up. Emily came into the bathroom with me, and I couldn't get off the floor. I was throwing up. I thought, 'I can't believe I'm this drunk and I've only had three drinks and a shot.'"

The prosecution portrayed this sudden onset as the result of too much booze and too little food, but Hillin says it was something she'd never felt before or since. She now believes she was drugged.

After getting to the car, Hillin urged Dowdy to go back to the club, saying she just needed some air. Then Hillin passed out.

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