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Hamby was tough and nearly fearless, say those who worked with him. Those attributes may have cost him his life.

Hamby was killed in a 1978 shoot out during a robbery attempt at the Catoosa Tag Agency that led to the death of one gunman and a life sentence for the other. Hamby. He wasn’t scared of anything,” said T. Jack Graves, who successfully prosecuted the only surviving participant of the shoot out.

Graves’ success in obtaining a life sentence for David Gordon Smith is made bitter by the knowledge that Smith has not been seen since Oct. 28, 1985.

On that day, Smith walked away from a minimum security prison in McAlester.

Now, nearly six years later, a nationally broadcast television program will re enact his crime and escape in the hope that someone will turn in the convicted killer, now 38.

“America’s Most Wanted” will air the episode on the Fox Network this fall.

State corrections officials took a lot of heat for allowing the convicted killer of a lawman to earn weekend passes and participate in out of town excursions. Prison officials were subject to severe criticism after Smith escaped, and Graves led the way.

“I was pretty upset, for sure. I thought it was pretty ridiculous. No, I thought it was a whole lot ridiculous,” said Graves, who stepped down as Rogers County District Attorney in 1989.

“He’s a murderer,
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he should be treated like a murderer. ” Hamby cultivated a reputation as a strict enforcer of the law.

Some say he may have been too strict, but Graves disagrees.

“I won’t say that. He was a tough minded law officer. He had an old time attitude toward law enforcement you know, ‘hang ’em. ‘ But he was well respected by his contemporaries,” Graves said.

That attitude was echoed at Hamby’s funeral at the Catoosa Middle School gymnasium, filled with hundreds of law officers, politicians and local residents. The Rev. were here in the audience, he would rise up and say ‘amen'” About two dozen of those Catoosa residents appeared before the state Pardon and Parole Board in 1984 to protest clemency for Smith.

Because of his excellent record in prison, the inmate was brought up after serving just over five years of his life sentence.

But those opposed to his release were emotional and effective.

“I’d like for the board to think about the serious void this man has created,” said David Hamby, brother of the slain chief. “He is a convicted killer, and he is also a confirmed liar. ” Graves told the board that evidence in Smith’s trial “conclusively showed” that Smith was the chief’s killer.

Smith claimed he handed his loaded gun to the other robber after entering the tag agency.

Graves said, “That’s bull. ” Smith said in 1984 that he had spent the previous six years “doing everything I can to prove what kind of man I am, and if it isn’t adequate for you, I’d like the opportunity to come back” before the board again.
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