We’ll know next week whether Tex McIver will accept a plea bargain

Otherwise, his murder trial will begin October 30. A hearing today revealed new details about a 1990 shooting incident the prosecution argues is relevant to the case.
Tex McIver
Tex McIver in court earlier this year

Photograph by Bob Andres / bandres@ajc.com

An in-depth profile of McIver and a look at this case is featured in our November 2017 issue. You can read it online here.

Prosecutors have until Monday to offer to Tex McIver’s defense team any plea deal they would accept to resolve the charges against McIver in the shooting death of his wife.

McIver is charged with malice and felony murder in the death last year of his wife, Diane. He’s also charged with influencing witnesses.

The Monday deadline was set by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney in court this morning. McIver’s attorneys said they’d let McBurney know by next Thursday, October 19, whether they would accept any deal that is offered. McBurney asked chief prosecutor Clint Rucker if the district attorney’s office, as part of a plea deal, was considering dropping or eliminating any of the charges against McIver. “I could see that happening,” Rucker said, adding that he’d first consult with District Attorney Paul Howard.

If no plea deal is reached, McIver’s trial is slated to begin October 30. In court this morning, attorneys told McBurney they anticipated assembling a pool of as many 200 jurors to find the 12, plus two alternates, who would decide McIver’s fate. Given the publicity surrounding the case, McBurney said that jury selection will determine if the case needs to be moved out-of-county.

In court today, Rucker also argued that a 1990 incident in which McIver set loose his two German Shepherds on a red Mustang near his house on Cravey Trail in northeast Atlanta, then fired his gun at the car, would be relevant for a jury to hear. Kevin O’Neal, a passenger in the car at the time, took the stand to recount what happened that night 27 years ago. O’Neal, who’s 46 now, said he and two friends—all of whom lived in same DeKalb County neighborhood as McIver did back in 1990—were toasting his impending departure for Parris Island, where he was reporting for duty.

“We were having a couple of beers,” O’Neal testified. “At one point, we noticed a couple of dogs that were coming down the road toward us. Kevin [Blase, the Mustang’s driver] was being jovial and he barked at them. A few minutes later we heard what we thought were firecrackers going off. We noticed a man walking down the street. He was holding a gun. We decided we would get in the car and regroup around the corner, out of sight. We decided to leave. We weren’t going to ask any questions. We weren’t sure of his frame of mind. As we were leaving the area, he opened fire on us as we were passing directly by him.”

No one was injured in the incident. O’Neal testified that he knew it was McIver because O’Neal had attended school with McIver’s son Robbie from first grade through high school.

Although McIver was indicted on five counts stemming from the 1990 incident, the case was ultimately “dead-docketed”—dropped, essentially—after McIver paid $2,931.10 to Blase to pay for the damages incurred by the bullet holes in his car.

Bob Houman, who was a DeKalb assistant district attorney at the time, testified today that McIver submitted to a psychological test after the shooting. McBurney asked if the result of the test contributed to the decision to dead-docket the case. “Yes,” replied Houman, who is now the chief assistant district attorney in Rockdale County. McBurney has yet to rule on whether the incident will be allowed if McIver’s murder case goes to trial. Though no details about the psychological evaluation were discussed in court, last year the AJC reported that the test found McIver to be “extremely non-violent” and “would not be prone toward aggressing against others in any form.”

Rucker argued that the 1990 shooting, despite happening more than a quarter-century ago, is relevant in the shooting death of Diane McIver. “There’s a certain disregard that he has with respect to human safety when he is handling guns. This 1990 case is a classic example.” Rucker cited a police report from the incident in which McIver told police he never had a gun at all. Said Rucker: “He is dishonest about his handling of a firearm, much as what has occurred in [the current case].”

Related reading: Tex and Diane McIver had it all. Now she’s dead, and he’s on trial for his life.