‘Breakdown’ S05, Ep. 9: The Pilloried Policeman

Tex McIver reacts to the testimony of a crime scene expert during testimony before the trial went on spring break. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

The Tex McIver murder trial returns from spring break this week. Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney told the jury before the break that prosecutor Clint Rucker still has witnesses to call, and he has already called more than 60.

The judge didn’t sound thrilled.

“Mr. Rucker and his team have helped me understand there are not a whole lot of witnesses left,” McBurney said. “I don’t think there are that many people left in the world.

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The AJC’s podcast, “Breakdown: The McIver Murder Case,” will post Episode 9 early Monday. Although the judge is looking forward, Episode 9 looks back – at the rough treatment of an Atlanta homicide detective by the prosecution. And it details some fireworks between the defense and Judge McBurney.

Detective Darrin Smith, who investigated the death of Diane McIver, concluded that the shooting was an accident. The district attorney, however, decided that Tex McIver intended to kill his wife. As the final witness before the break, Smith was compelled to answer for all the questions he didn’t ask, all the steps he didn’t take in his investigation.

Normally, the district attorney and the police department are allies, working together to win a conviction. Not in this case.

Defense attorney Bruce Harvey questions Det. Darrin Smith on the trial’s final day before the break. STEVE SCHAEFER / SPECIAL TO THE AJC

Defense attorney Bruce Harvey took Detective Smith through a lengthy cross-examination in which Harvey tried his best to rehabilitate the witness. But then Harvey stopped asking questions and just started making statements.

“You know what he’s saying,“ Harvey said of prosecutor Rucker. “He’s saying you did a crummy job. That’s what he’s saying. You didn’t investigate it right. So I’m going through these things because you did investigate it right, didn’t you?”

Rucker objects. McBurney tells the witness, “So, don’t answer that question.”

Then the judge addresses Harvey: “If you want to ask a question, then let’s do that. That’s not an appropriate question. I invite you to continue your thorough and sifting cross-examination.”

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Later, in response to an exchange that was not on the tape of the proceedings, McBurney instructed Harvey, “And don’t call me your worship again.”

Episode 9, “The Pilloried Policeman,” will go live early Monday on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcast platform. Or you can stream it right here, right now:

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