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Jack Favor


Sentenced to two life terms in prison in 1967 for the robbery and brutal murder of Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Richey in Bossier City, Louisiana, Jack Graves Favor was exonerated seven years later after a fellow prisoner and jail-house lawyer filed a successful appeal on his behalf.
 
In his youth, Favor was a renowned cowboy as well as a family man, married with three children. He retired from his career as a cowboy in his 50s and became a traveling salesman. On April 16, 1964, Favor was traveling to Tulsa, Oklahoma, as part of his work. On his way there, he stopped to eat lunch in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where he met two men, Floyd Edward “Chigger” Cumbey and Donald Lee Yates, in need of a ride. Remembering all the years when he had to hitchhike to cowboy shows because he was poor, and how much he appreciated the people who gave him a ride, he was accustomed to picking up hitchhikers, and he agreed to give these two men a ride. At the end of the day, Favor and the hitchhikers stopped at a hotel with only one vacant room. Favor paid for the room, and since there was nowhere for the hitchhikers to go, Favor allowed them to share his room.
 
On the morning of April 17, 1964, on his way to a meeting with another salesman, Favor drove the hitchhikers out of his way to Bossier City, Louisiana, so that they would have an easier time hitching a ride since Louisiana had more lenient hitchhiking laws than Oklahoma. Favor then continued on his way to meet with another salesman at the White Swan Café. Meanwhile, Mr. and Mrs. W.R. Richey, a couple who owned a fish bait business, were robbed and brutally murdered in their home in Haughton, Louisiana. The murderers placed the Richeys on their bed, covered their heads with a pillow, and shot them through the pillow several times. Although the investigators were certain that three people were somehow involved, they were unable to find the perpetrators.
 
In December 1964, Cumbey was awaiting trial for another robbery. He had a long criminal history, and this robbery would now increase his prison sentence. In order to avoid this, Cumbey decided to talk. He described the details of the Richey murder to the Chief Deputy Val Dooley, a deputy sheriff from Bossier Parish in Louisiana. According to Cumbey’s description, he was the driver of the get-away car and the lookout, while Yates was the triggerman, and Favor was the instigator. On September 1, 1965, Dooley arrested Favor in Texas for the robbery and double murder of the Richeys.
 
On November 12, 1965, Favor’s extradition hearing was held in Texas. He presented receipts kept for tax purposes from the Oklahoma restaurants and a Fort Worth gas station he had visited on April 17, 1964. Favor also brought in many witnesses who verified his presence in Oklahoma that day, including Willard Combs and his wife, who visited Favor at a ranch near Reynoldsville on that day. Despite all the evidence, after hearing Cumbey’s testimony, Favor was extradited to Louisiana. Cumbey also took this opportunity to threaten many of Favor’s key witnesses, some of whom would later refuse to testify at the trial.
 
With the judicial process lagging, and extradition pending, in October 1966, Favor called Dooley and volunteered to take a lie detector test. Dooley brought him to Bossier Jail in Louisiana, where he was refused permission to take a lie-detector test and was told that he could only talk to Dooley if he wanted to confess. During his one-month stay in Bossier Jail, Favor lost 50 pounds.
 
Favor’s trial before Judge O.E. Price, began on April 24, 1967, at the Twenty-Sixth Judicial Court of Bossier Parish. Cumbey pleaded guilty to murder with an understanding that he would not be given a death sentence. His testimony now included specific dates, times, and locations which he had not mentioned previously. Some of Favor’s key witnesses, threatened by Cumbey, did not testify on his behalf. In addition, the gas station receipt which proved that Favor was in Fort Worth on the day of the murders was not admitted as evidence because the gas station attendant who signed it was absent. Other receipts were ignored for various reasons. Yates, who had told his defense lawyers that Favor was not involved in the crime, was not allowed to testify.
 
On April 29, 1967, the jury was asked to reach a verdict. They could not. Frustrated, the district attorney requested that the judge allow him to talk to the jury for a moment. Shortly thereafter, the jury found Favor guilty. He was sentenced to life in prison in Angola, the Louisiana prison where prisoners often slept with mail-order catalogues on their chests in order to avoid being stabbed.
 
Cumbey, on the other hand, changed his plea to manslaughter on December 11, and was sentenced to two consecutive 21-year sentences to be served in Angola. Although he was scheduled to be transferred to Angola, he never arrived. It was later learned that the records showing his transfer were faked for the trial. Instead, on December 12, Cumbey was released from custody and driven by Dooley to the state line at Texarkana under the pretense that he would work as an undercover agent in Oklahoma. According to some accounts, Dooley handed Cumbey a gun and $25 in cash. On December 14, Cumbey murdered his former girlfriend and her roommate for not returning his valuables that he had left with her. He later committed an armed robbery, after which he was again arrested. Meanwhile, Dooley became a sheriff, and Judge Price moved on to the Court of Appeals. District Attorney Louis H. Padgett became a district judge. Yates pleaded guilty to the Richey murders and was sentenced to 17 years in Angola with the possibility of parole. He later robbed a bank and was sent to federal prison in Kansas.
 
In Angola, Favor crossed paths with Yates, who informed him that Cumbey had never arrived there. In 1971, a jail-house lawyer and Favor’s fellow prisoner, Ron Wikberg, took an interest in Favor’s case and encouraged him to file an appeal, which, for some reason, his original defense attorney had failed to do. After completing the writ of habeas corpus, someone sent Favor a newspaper clipping describing the manner in which Cumbey had killed the two women in Oklahoma. This allowed Favor, with Wikberg’s help, to claim in the writ that Cumbey, the Bossier Parish authorities, Judge Price, and Padgett had all conspired against him. Louisiana law, however, required that the appeal be filed within 30 days after the verdict, which had long expired. The appeal had therefore been denied by the state courts as well as the Louisiana Supreme Court, forcing Favor to file a writ of habeas corpus in the U.S. District Court. In July 1971, Favor filed his writ with the United States District Court, Western District of Louisiana, Shreveport Division. On May 16, 1972, Judge Ben Dawkins became interested in the case and ordered the State of Louisiana to either retry Favor or to release him. The decision was later upheld by Judge Alvin Rubin of the United States District Court after the Louisiana State Court overruled Dawkins’s decision.
 
In April 1974, Favor was tried again in the Twenty-Sixth Judicial District Court in Bossier Parish before Judge C.J. Bolin by the Office of the State Attorney—the district attorneys refused to prosecute the case. This time, Yates was allowed to testify. He confirmed that Favor did not take part in the murder of the Richeys. Yates also revealed that the third party involved was an important politician, and that he and Cumbey were ordered to kill whoever gave them a ride and to steal the car. Favor was so nice, however, that they were unable to kill him.
 
Judge Price testified that he had a very vague recollection of the trial, and that he did not recall promising Cumbey a suspended sentence.
 
Dooley testified that when he released Cumbey in Texarkana, he believed that Cumbey’s sentence was suspended. He only learned later that it was not. He also testified, however, that the day before Cumbey’s release, he and Padgett had prepared fake papers authorizing Cumbey’s transfer to Angola. Cumbey testified that he did not mention his plea bargain because the Bossier Parish officials did not want him to. He also testified that Padgett promised him freedom if he testified against Favor.
 
On April 19, 1974, after deliberating for less than one hour, the jury acquitted Favor. The judge allowed Favor to be released on a $5,000 bond until the State decided to drop the charges. However, because of court and medical expenses, Favor did not have the money. A complete stranger, Alfred Cloud, provided the bond so that Favor was able to go home to his family. The charges against Favor were dismissed on May 7, 1974. After finally arriving home, Favor suffered a stroke. He underwent a triple bypass and had a pacemaker installed, which was replaced three more times before the end of his life on December 27, 1988.
 
Favor also suffered from pancreatic cancer. In 1976, Favor sued the State of Louisiana for wrongful imprisonment for $7,000,000. He settled for $55,000, all of which was used to pay his court and medical expenses.
 
- Natalya Murashev
State:LA
County:Bossier Parish
Most Serious Crime:Murder
Reported Crime Date:1964
Convicted:1967
Exonerated:1974
Sentence:Life
Race:Caucasian
Sex:Male
Age at the date of crime:52
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation