Don Crowder, a prosperous attorney, gained notoriety for his defense of Candy Montgomery, who fatally attacked her friend Betty Gore with an ax in 1980. Despite successfully securing her acquittal by asserting self-defense, Crowder’s professional and personal life experienced a decline following the contentious case.

The Rise and Fall of Don Crowder

Don Crowder, once a football player turned lawyer in 1970, co-founded a law firm alongside his classmates Jim Mattox and John Allen Curtis. Specializing in personal injury cases, Crowder was renowned for his courtroom passion, humor, and tenacity, coupled with a reputation for generosity and a strong faith beyond legal proceedings. His path intersected with Candy Montgomery at the United Methodist Church of Lucas, where she sought his assistance in the highly publicized case of her alleged murder of Betty Gore, a fellow church member and friend.

Despite lacking criminal law expertise, Crowder embraced the challenge, defending Candy by employing psychiatrists, presenting her on the stand, and using dramatic tactics to convince the jury she was a victim of Betty’s violent attack upon discovering an affair. Crowder’s confrontations with the judge and prosecution, which led to his brief imprisonment for contempt of court, played a role in Candy’s surprising not guilty verdict, sparking public and media astonishment.

The high-profile case left a lasting impact on Crowder’s reputation, with criticism mounting against him for defending what some deemed a “brazen hussy” who had allegedly committed murder. Financial challenges followed as he spent extensively on the case and received limited compensation from Candy. An attempt to run for governor in 1986 proved unsuccessful, but Crowder continued his legal practice, serving as the city attorney for Allen, Texas, for 22 years. In 1991, he opened Gameday, a sports bar in Plano, Texas, in the hopes of revitalizing his fortunes.

The Suicide of Don Crowder

In the late 1990s, Don Crowder’s life took a distressing turn. His sports bar closed in 1997, pushing him toward bankruptcy. Struggling with mental health issues, he faced depression, alcoholism, and a potential bipolar disorder. The tragic loss of his brother Barry in 1997, who accidentally shot himself while cleaning a gun, added to Crowder’s emotional distress and guilt.

On November 10, 1998, at the age of 56, Crowder tragically ended his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. Survived by his second wife, four children, and grandchildren, he found his final resting place at Ridgeview Memorial Park in Allen, Texas. His obituary portrayed him as a “loving husband, father, grandfather, brother, and friend” with a “zest for life” and a “heart of gold.”

Crowder’s suicide marked a poignant conclusion to a life characterized by both triumphs and tribulations, renown and notoriety, joy and sorrow. A complex and controversial figure, he played a pivotal role in one of Texas’s most sensational murder cases. His legacy continues to spark interest and debate as media outlets and adaptations revisit his involvement in Candy Montgomery’s case.