Testimony concludes in Tex McIver case

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action news are bringing you LIVE gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Tex McIver murder trial. Check back each day for a live blog from the courtroom and daily video recaps. Visit myajc.com/crime/ for previous coverage of the case and a link to our Breakdown podcast. 

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This is our live recounting of today’s testimony:

5:19 p.m.

Court adjourns for the day.

4:30 p.m.

Jurors were allowed to look inside McIver’s Ford Expedition, which looks as it did the night Diane McIver was shot and killed.Some jurors took a little more than an obligatory glance; others sat in the back passenger seat, from where Tex fired the gun, and in the seat occupied by Dani Jo Carter, who was driving the vehicle. They were not allowed to sit in Diane’s seat. Whether McIver was asleep, as he claims, or wide awake, as the prosecution alleges, would determine the launch angle of the bullet, one of the things jurors were investigating. But was Tex slumped over or sitting up? No one really knows.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

2:08 p.m. 

Testimony has concluded in the McIver case. The state declined to call additional rebuttal witnesses.

“Ladies and gentleman, the evidence in this case has closed,” McBurney said.

The jury is told to return at 9 a.m. Tuesday.

2 p.m. 

The jury has returned to the court room after going to see the Ford Expedition.

12:41 p.m.

The jury is traveling in two groups to see the Ford Expedition. McBurney said the jurors may look at the vehicle, sit in it and shut the doors to gain a good sense of the interior, which has been talked about in great detail during the trial.  There is no time limit on the visit.

12:06 p.m.

Pressman has wrapped up his testimony.

The jury will now get to see the McIvers’ Ford Expedition where the shooting took place.

“Ladies and gentlemen we’re going to go on a field trip,” McBurney told the jurors. They will get to see the vehicle in two groups.

A dowel will be in the passenger seat to show the trajectory of the bullet as it passed through and stuck Diane McIver.

11:51 a.m.

The jury has some questions for Pressman.

One asks Pressman why he thought it was impossible for McIver to have fallen asleep again in the SUV after obtaining his Revolver from the console.

“It’s just what we know about the relationship of stress, anxiety and fear. He asked for the gun because he felt danger,” Pressman said.

“He became so fearful that he had biological signs of it, his hair stood up on end,” he continued.

“You can’t be extremely fearful and relaxed enough to fall asleep within moments,” Pressman said.

11:30 a.m.

Clark Palmer asks Pressman about the sleep study McIver at Emory in January. As part of that, McIver was asked to take several naps to gauge how easily he fell asleep. In one nap, she says, he fell asleep in two minutes. She asks Pressman if that is fast.

Pressman says he doesn’t think that is particularly fast. He volunteers that it’s more unusual that in three of the nap opportunities McIver didn’t fall asleep at all.  That’s in part because of his age, Pressman says.

Clark Palmer also asks about whether it was possible that McIver fell back asleep after becoming alarmed exiting the interstate the night of the shooting. This is when McIver asked his wife and Dani Jo Carter for his gun and told police he was so concerned his “hair stood up.”

“Based on current sleep science, I believe he did not fall back asleep,” Pressman said.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

11:17 a.m.

Defense lawyer Amanda Clark Palmer is now cross examining Dr. Pressman.

He says he does not dispute that Tex McIver suffers from REM behavioral disorder. His medical records are fairly clear on that point, Pressman agrees.

11:01 a.m.

Dr. Pressman is raising questions about whether McIver’s behavior in the SUV the night of the shooting could be linked to a sleep disorder.

“Based on what you have reviewed, was the defendant’s behavior consistent with someone suffering from REM behavioral disorder?”  Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Adam Abbate asked.

“No,” Pressman replied.

“Was the behavior consistent with someone suffering from confusional arousal?” Abbate asked.

“No,” Pressman said.

“Was the (defendant’s) behavior consistent with someone who was awake when the gun was fired on Sept. 25, 2016?” Abbate asked.

“Yes,” Pressman said.

10:40 a.m.

The jury has entered the courtroom and testimony has begun.

The first rebuttal witness for the prosecution is Dr. Mark Pressman, a sleep disorder expert from Pennsylvania who also teaches at the Villanova School of Law.

Dr. David Rye, an Emory University sleep expert, testified for the defense that Tex McIver suffers from REM sleep behavior disorder, or RBD. Defense lawyers have suggested that disorder is, at least in part, to blame for the shooting.

Pressman says he has reviewed the records from Tex McIver’s sleep studies, one conducted in January at Emory and another previous study from the Mayo Clinic.

10:08 a.m.

The defense is concerned that Grover — following his own direct testimony — has been in the courtroom for most of the trial and has heard other witnesses testify. Clark Palmer said he should have been sequestered.

“It is a dilemma,” Judge Robert McBurney said, noting that Diane McIver’s work colleagues are “family” and have a right to be in the courtroom to follow the trial.

McBurney said he would allow Grover to be recalled but would limit the questioning. Grover cannot, for instance, show the jury a picture of boots similar to the ones he bought Diane McIver from Cracker Barrel in 2015.

“The two sides have made these boots a lightning rod from long, long ago,” McBurney said.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

9:46 a.m.

The jury has not entered the courtroom yet. But Jay Grover, who worked for Diane McIver at U.S. Enterprises, has been sworn in and is discussing the now notorious rain boots be bought for his onetime boss.

Grover testified that when he visited the McIvers’ Putnam County ranch a few days after Tex McIver shot his wife he saw masseuse Annie Anderson wearing the same cowboy-style rain boots he had purchased for Diane as a gift.

Anderson told the jury last week that she was wearing a different pair of boots. The prosecution wants to call Grover to refute that testimony.

Defense lawyer Amanda Clark Palmer is examining Grover outside the presence of the jury.

Credit: Bob Andres

Credit: Bob Andres

9:35 a.m.

Good morning.

It is Day 20 of the trial. Lawyers from both sides are talking to the judge as they prepare to hear from the prosecution’s rebuttal witnesses. Today is expected to be the final day of testimony. The jury is also planning to get a firsthand look at the McIvers’ 2013 Ford Expedition where the shooting took place.

Closing arguments are expected tomorrow and then the case will go to the jury.

BREAKDOWN: Listen to the AJC’s podcast on the McIver case. Episode 10 is available now

INDICTMENT: Here are the charges filed against Tex McIver

TIMELINE: Events in the Tex McIver case