What happened to Candy Montgomery's attorney, Don Crowder?

Where is Candy Montgomery's attorney now? He described the trial as 'zenith of an extraordinarily successful career, or the demise of what could have been'

Pictured: Tom Pelphrey as Don Crowder, Candy Montgomery attorney, in Love and Death
(Image credit: Jake Giles Netter/HBO Max)

Despite the circumstances, Candy Montgomery left the McKinney, Texas, courthouse a free woman in 1980; her attorney, Don Crowder, seemed to struggle in the wake of the trial more so than his defendant. 

For those who are unfamiliar with the story, Candy Montgomery killed Betty Gore, a friend and fellow parishioner, by stabbing her 41 times with an ax. All of this transpired after Betty approached Candy about her extramarital affair with her husband, Allan Gore. Crowder had never taken on a murder case prior to the Candy Montgomery trial, yet at the end of the day, his client was let go, as the jury found she had acted in self-defense. 

The unbelievable story has become the subject of many projects: Candy on Hulu in 2022, and currently, Love & Death on HBO Max. Questions abound when it comes to Candy Montgomery today—or should we say Candace Wheeler—but what about the man who helped her regain her freedom?

Candy Montgomery attorney: who was Don Crowder?

Don Crowder, played by Ozark alumn Tom Pelphrey in Love & Death, was considered an ambitious, optimistic and giving person. He was the star of the football team at Southern Methodist University and eventually made his way into law, according to The Cinemaholic. When his professional life took off, he decided to give back, primarily to the United Methodist Church of Lucas...which is where he met Candy. 

"When you know what an underdog he is and what a champion of kids, children and the disadvantaged, you really get a sense of this guy," Pelphrey told E News! on researching his character. 

But his public persona began to change once Candy came into the picture—especially after the trial when he received death threats as a result of the verdict. Crowder was the one who encouraged his client to enlist the help of a psychiatrist, Dr. Fason, who hypnotized her to help her recall the details of the murder. 

When all was said and done, Candy Montgomery's lawyer considered the events "maybe the zenith of an extraordinarily successful career, or the demise of what could have been," according to The Dallas Observer

Crowder tried to carry on as usual post-trial, and he even ran for governor of Texas in 1986, though ultimately lost the race with 118,530 votes. He had opened a sports bar, Gameday Sport Cafe, which was in business for roughly six years. Life took a turn in 1997 when Crowder lost his brother in an accident. 

What happened to Don Crowder, Candy Montgomery's lawyer?

After his brother's passing, Crowder's mental health suffered extraordinarily, he began drinking excessively and even received a DUI. At 56 years old, sadly, he took his own life.

"He had always been so strong. He was always the one to motivate us," his youngest daughter, Christy, told The Dallas Observer back in 1999. "Toward the end, he just wasn't like my dad anymore."

You can watch the fictional takes of the Candy Montgomery story now: Candy is streaming in full on Hulu, and Love & Death is being released weekly on Thursdays through May 25 on HBO Max. 

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.