Sketchy Characters

The drawings of courtroom artist Gary Myrick did more than reveal the faces of some of Texas’s most infamous defendants over the past 35 years. They showed them in all of their arrogance, sadness, and humanity.
Sketchy Characters
Photographs by Scogin Mayo

Gary Myrick will admit, with minor grumbling, that he’s a dinosaur. When his career as a courtroom artist began, in the seventies, cameras weren’t allowed to record the proceedings and America tuned in to the news each night expecting to see sketches of the era’s big trials. For the next twenty years, if those dramas played out in or near Texas, the definitive images belonged to Myrick. He established himself at the two murder-for-hire trials of T. Cullen Davis, the millionaire Fort Worth oilman who’d already been acquitted of killing the daughter and boyfriend of his estranged wife, Priscilla. Myrick, now 58 and still living in his hometown of Fort Worth, remembers the cases vividly. “One judge smoked like a chimney,” he says. “You could smoke in the freaking courtroom then. Talk about nice.”

He went on to cover the Whitewater prosecutions, the Paula Jones sexual harassment suit against Bill Clinton, and the trial of socialite Pamela Fielder, whose manslaughter conviction for killing her husband helped establish the battered-wife defense in Texas. He drew self-proclaimed serial killer Henry Lee Lucas; pediatric nurse Genene Jones, who was thought to have murdered some fifty infant patients; and suburban housewife Darlie Routier, who killed two of her children. But as state courtrooms around the country started allowing cameras in the nineties, calls for Myrick’s talents dropped off. “I’ve got an unfinished sketch of a gaggle of cameramen shooting a witness on the stand,” he says through a smirk of resignation.

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