Posted on 8/27/18

It is imperative for anyone accused of a crime to obtain strong and highly competent legal representation. The 1977 case of Randall Adams demonstrates just how important having strong representation is.

Randall Adams Case

Randall Adams arrived in Dallas, Texas on Thanksgiving of 1976. Two days later, on November 27, 1976, Adams’ car broke down, so he hitched with 16-year-old David Harris. The two immediately hit it off, so they spent the day drinking and smoking marijuana. Later that night, after Midnight on November 28, the car was driving in a Dallas neighborhood when it was pulled over by a police car for not having the lights on. As Officer David Wood approached the vehicle, two shots rang out and struck him. Wood died soon after. In the meantime, the car sped off. Teresa Turko, the other officer in the police car, chased the car holding Adams and Harris but was not able to catch them.

The prosecution charged Adams with murder. Harris claimed that he was not in the car at the time when the shots struck Officer Wood. In fact, Harris testified at trial on behalf of the prosecution. The prosecution also called Dr James Grigson to testify. Grigson claimed that Adams was a menace and should probably not be left alive (note that the American Psychiatric Association expelled Grigson in 1995 due to unethical conduct).

The testimony against Adams was compelling. According to the testimony, he was the only one in the car when shots were fired and hit Officer Wood. He was, according to a medical evaluation, a menace. Adams sat on Texas’s death row.

During the course of the trial and afterward, Adams continually maintained his innocence.

Proescutorial Issues

It came to light that the prosecutor, Doug Mulder, had a win-at-all-costs attitude with respect to his case against Adams. It was later demonstrated that a witness came to a lineup and was unable to pick out Adams. A police officer then suggested Adams, wherein the witness then pointed to Adams. It also turned out that a different witness who claimed that she saw Adams in the car at the night of the murder was found to perjure her testimony under Mulder’s instruction.


Harris, the other alleged occupant, was found guilty of murder for an unrelated killing in 1985. At the time he was in police custody, Harris recanted his testimony against Adams. Due to his recant, Adams’s new lawyer successfully petitioned a court for a new trial due to serious irregularities and new information about the case. The trial court exonerated Adams and he walked out of a prison as a free man in 1989.

Harris died of lethal injection in 2004 after sitting on death row for almost 19 years. Adams died of natural causes in 2010 at the age of 61.

Have you been accused of a crime? You may be facing a zealous prosecutor who will stop at nothing to get a conviction. You need strong and aggressive representation. Contact the law firm of Christopher Abel.

(image courtesy of Charlie Deets)


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