Both the defense’s and the prosecution’s theories “found at least some support in the evidence,” McBurney said. But he found there was sufficient evidence to support the felony murder verdict and allowed it to stand.
The judge also rejected defense lawyers’ arguments that racial issues so inflamed the jury that McIver did not get a fair trial.
McBurney noted there was testimony that McIver said he had asked to be given the handgun from out of the vehicle’s center console because they had driven upon a Black Lives Matter protest. There was also testimony that McIver called a doctor’s Black colleague “boy” when told his wife had just died.
“It was not pretty evidence, and it was prejudicial to (McIver),” McBurney wrote, “but not so wholly unfair or inflammatory as to require exclusion.”
Race only became an issue “because of choices (McIver) made in what he said to others, both soon and long after he had killed his wife,” McBurney said.
Among other issues the defense raised — and McBurney rejected — was the admission into evidence of a photo showing a sign posted outside McIver’s ranch house in Putnam County. It read “We don’t dial 911″ with a picture of a handgun.
McBurney found this item “more ironic than prejudicial” because the evidence showed that McIver did not call 911 after he shot his wife.