Slain professor focus of electoral campaign

The focus of the race for Tarrant County district attorney has turned to the 2004 murder of a former TCU professor.

The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported that in a mailer for Joe Shannon’s campaign for district attorney, Allen Walker, daughter of slain professor Laura Lee Crane, acknowledged Shannon’s pivotal role in sending one of her mother’s killers to Death Row.

Crane was abducted Jan. 30, 2004 by Edward Lee Busby Jr. and Kathleen “Kitty” Latimer while running an errand at the Tom Thumb at 3050 S. Hulen St. The former education professor and Star Point School director died of asphyxiation after her abductors wrapped her face in duct tape.

Busby, who was driving Crane’s vehicle, confessed to the crime after Oklahoma police pulled him over for an improper right turn. He led investigators to the body, which was discovered on Feb. 3, 2004 in southern Oklahoma.

Shannon, an assistant district attorney at the time, prosecuted the case along with another assistant DA. His opponent in the race, Kirk Claunch, has been a private attorney for 18 years but has never prosecuted a case, according to the Star-Telegram.

In Shannon’s mailer, Walker said she had “seen firsthand what it takes to fulfill the responsibilities and obligations of this office.”

Shannon’s mailer arrived three days after a Claunch mailer criticized Shannon for losing the 1977 murder trial of Cullen Davis, a man accused of killing his estranged wife’s 12-year-old daughter, according to the Star-Telegram.

James Riddlesperger, a political science professor at the university, said bringing up past successes or failures in a political race could affect the outcome because voters consider candidates’ records. However, Riddlesperger said he does not think Claunch’s mailer makes much difference because the Davis murder trial happened so long ago.