Tex McIver left a Fulton County courtroom in handcuffs on Wednesday, his bond revoked after a Glock pistol was found in the Buckhead condo he had shared with his late wife.
The decision by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney puts McIver behind bars, at least for a while. McBurney said he is open to releasing McIver soon under more restrictive bond conditions.
“Mr. McIver and firearms don’t mix well anymore,” said McBurney, raising concerns about the safety of McIver and others. He added that, at least for a while, “Mr. McIver will be in a place where I can be most assured he is not around a gun.”
Prosecutors had sought to have McIver’s bond revoked after finding the gun in his sock drawer while searching his residence for financial documents earlier this month. The bond, which he received after being charged in December with killing his wife, stipulated that he was not to be around firearms.
McIver’s legal team maintained their client did not know how the gun got there, and suggested during the hearing that it was planted in an effort to discredit him.
McIver shot his wife, Diane, in the back as they rode in their SUV near Piedmont Park in September. He has said it was an accident.
His bond revocation hearing - typically a routine legal affair - lasted three days and took on the trappings of a full-blown trial. Prosecutors and defense attorneys traded verbal blows as they questioned multiple witnesses, a cavalcade of investigators, experts and people who’ve moved through the McIvers’ lives, including their housekeeper and the man who washes their cars.
Even veteran legal observers said they were struck by the drama surrounding the simple bond revocation hearing. The action took place before a grand jury had even decided whether to indict McIver.
McIver’s lawyers said they would have a bond proposal to McBurney Thursday in the hopes of getting him out of jail quickly, perhaps days.
McBurney suggested that that he would only approve a plan that kept McIver away from guns and should include measures such as an ankle monitor.
“Mr. McIver is effectively on house arrest,” McBurney said.
The Buckhead condo would also be subject to random searches, and no one under the age of 18 could visit him, the judge said.
Wednesday’s proceeding turned up the heat even more as prosecutor Clint Rucker scoffed at the defense’s explanations about the appearance of the gun. On Tuesday, the prosecution had revealed that the gun had been purchased by McIver’s brother.
“There really is no good explanation as to why this man has a gun in his sock drawer,” Rucker said. “Why would he have a gun? It’s because he is infatuated with guns.”
Often raising his voice in outrage, Rucker said McIver purposely placed the gun in the sock drawer, and that he used the drawer daily.
Since the gun was discovered, and even during these legal proceedings, people around McIver have worked to create a “shield” to protect him from being sent to jail, Rucker said.
McIver’s attorney William Hill took a more measured tone, recounting the ways in which McIver worked to abide by the bond conditions. He said McIver removed over 20 guns from his two properties and even handed in his license to carry a gun.
“Mr. McIver has taken Herculean efforts to comply with his bond,” attorney William Hill said. “Mr. McIver is not a threat to the public. He is a 74-year-old man. He cannot survive in jail.”
McIver’s lawyers argued that prosecutors want to put their client behind bars to “sweat him” for several months so he would be more inclined to take a plea deal.
Atlanta police have charged him with reckless conduct and involuntary manslaughter, suggesting he didn’t mean to pull the trigger.
Prosecutors, however, are investigating whether the crime was intentional. In a filing made in probate court, they suggested that Diane McIver, herself a successful business woman who ran Corey Airport Services, may have had a second will and that document may provide a motive for the shooting.
Rucker, for his part, hinted Wednesday that the DA’s office may prosecute him on more serious charges.
The police charges, he said, “have nothing to do with what the Fulton County DA’s Office is going to do,” Rucker said. “Taking pleas on murder cases is not what I do. I go to trial on murder cases, and I fully expect to go to trial on this one.”
The prosecutor also lashed out at McIver’s statements that the shooting of his wife was an accident.
“A bunch of malarkey,” Rucker said. “Guns just don’t go off. You got to pull the trigger.”
Judge McBurney also suggested that McIver may have to step down as executor of his wife’s estate to fulfill the conditions of his bond. One condition, the judge said, would be that McIver have no contact with Tammy Johnson, the manager of Diane McIver’s estate.
The judge added that, once McIver is out of jail on bond, “I have a limited view of Mr. McIver leaving his apartment other than coming to court.”
Support real journalism. Support local journalism. Subscribe to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution today. See offers.
Your subscription to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution funds in-depth reporting and investigations that keep you informed. Thank you for supporting real journalism.