A Devil's Deal in Dallas Court

A terrible crime plus skaky evidence tempts prosecutors to play a secret game of "let's make a deal"

"I really worked this case hard," Warder says. "I even took one whole evening and took all the documents and photos to Bill Parker's house. I think I did everything in my power to see that Pabst was telling the truth."

Pabst's new story meshed with her own gut instinct and experience: Intravenous meth users such as Clay Chabot were more likely to commit violence than fat drunks. "You get tremendous mood swings, and when speed users are coming down, they are flat-out mean," Warder says.

She offered Loving the no-deal deal: If Pabst testified, she would do what was "fair and right." Loving understood: If Pabst told the truth, he would not be prosecuted for murder.

Mark Graham
Mike Ware is reviewing the Crosby murder to determine if Clay Chabot will be retried.
Mark Graham
Mike Ware is reviewing the Crosby murder to determine if Clay Chabot will be retried.

At the trial, Warder quizzed her witnesses with brisk efficiency. Though she had not included rape in the charge, one of Chabot's drug buddies claimed Chabot had threatened to "butt-fuck" and "kill the bitch" over the bad drugs. That lurid threat hung in the courtroom air, though there was no evidence Crosby had been sodomized.

Before Warder's star witness testified, Warder assured Judge Thomas Thorpe that Pabst was receiving no favor in return for his testimony: "Your honor, the state has absolutely no deal, no offer."

Pabst told the jury he and Chabot had stayed up the night before the murder drinking beer, with Chabot also injecting speed and cocaine. Pabst claimed they drove his car to Graham's house about 6 a.m., trying to catch him before he left for work to get some more crank. Graham had already left; Crosby was alone, getting ready for work.

Wild-eyed and hyper, Chabot grilled her about getting money as repayment for the bad dope or, failing that, "stash." After Crosby said she had neither, Chabot pulled his gun, forced Crosby into the bedroom and ordered Pabst to tie Crosby's feet together—according to Pabst.

At Chabot's direction, Pabst said, he went into the den to unhook the TV. While he struggled with power cords, he heard a gunshot. Grabbing the TV, Pabst ran out the door and thrust it in the back seat. Instead of leaving or calling 911, Pabst went back into the house and saw Chabot standing over Crosby, a pillow on her head.

Chabot told an entirely different story. He said the night before the murder the two men had stayed up late drinking beer. Chabot said he gave Pabst about $30 of speed about 3:30 a.m. But Pabst wanted more and called Graham two hours later to try to catch him before work. As Pabst left for Crosby's house, Chabot asked him to give Graham a message: He wanted his money back. Pabst left soon after, and Chabot went to sleep.

Sandra Chabot said her husband was at home when she woke up at about 7 a.m. to take care of their newborn. Her brother returned about 2 p.m. with her gun, which he claimed he'd borrowed the previous night. The bullets were gone.

She claimed that when Garland officer Dennis Wheatley arrested her husband on May 3, he said he had "enough evidence to burn Clay [Chabot]." (Wheatley was also an investigating officer in the case of David Shawn Pope, exonerated by DNA from a 1985 rape that got him sentenced to 45 years.)

In closing arguments, the prosecution again emphasized that Pabst received no deal to testify. Warder asked the jury to consider the two men and their credibility: "Does [Pabst] look like the type of man who would go in and sexually assault Galua? Did he look like a violent type of man?"

The jury took only a few hours to convict Chabot and sentence him to life in prison.

The call this spring to one of Galua Crosby's relatives left the entire family reeling with shock, disbelief and fresh grief.

Crosby's mother sank into depression so severe after her daughter's death that she had to be hospitalized. Crosby's late father and brother had attended the trial every day. For 20 years, they had believed Pabst was rotting in prison for his role in Crosby's death. Now a relative in Ohio was calling to tell them that a local newspaper reported Pabst had been arrested while sitting in a bar and had been charged with murder anew.

"We thought Gerald Pabst was in jail all these years," says Susan Campbell, Crosby's sister-in-law and a spokeswoman for the family. "It's always been that the two of them were convicted."

No one had bothered to tell the family what happened after Chabot was led off to prison in handcuffs.

Warder and Judge Thorpe have testified that as the courtroom cleared, Warder turned to the judge and asked, "What is Gerald guilty of?"

"He's guilty of pawning the radio," Thorpe told her.

The Monday after Chabot's Friday conviction, Warder met with Pabst and his lawyer and said she was dropping the murder charge, replacing it instead with felony theft of the TV and boombox. Warder didn't think Pabst had stolen the TV; she had used that as a device to keep the case in Thorpe's felony court.

Loving protested, telling Warder charging Pabst at all was "petty." On Tuesday Warder reduced the charge to misdemeanor theft for pawning the radio. Sentenced to 30 days in jail, Pabst was released on time served.

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