McIver jury selection nears end … finally

THE LATEST: Selecting a jury for the Tex McIver trial has been more difficult than anticipated, but the process is almost over. Seventy-two prospective jurors have moved on to the next round of questioning, from which a jury of 12 Fulton County residents will sit in judgment of McIver, 75, charged with intentionally shooting his wife, Diane, in their SUV near Piedmont Park in September 2016. McIver says the shooting was unintentional, but that story has been a tough sell to many of the 145 people called in for jury-duty questioning. That’s the main reason it has taken so long to find enough eligible jurors. That, and an apparent epidemic of back injuries.

RARE EMOTION: The death-bed conversation between Diane McIver and Dr. Susan Hardy, who treated her at Emory Hospital, has rarely come up during four days of questioning. But it made a big impact on Juror 135, who was moved to tears when asked why she believed the shooting was no accident. “When Mrs. McIver was being treated, the doctor said that she knew she was going to die and asked her if she wanted to see her husband,” said the pre-K teacher, who was excused. “She said no. …. And she said it was an accident, which if it were me, and my husband had shot me, and I had a decent relationship, I would have wanted to see him to say, I forgive you for this happening. I love you. Goodbye.” As she spoke, McIver bowed his head, shielding his face with his left hand.

EVERYTHING IS POLITICAL, EVEN JURY SELECTION: Juror 121 had no opinion on McIver’s guilt or innocence, but he did have a strong bias against the defendant, who is an attorney and an active Republican who formerly served on the state elections board. The potential juror and Democratic Party operative alleged McIver “was involved in several cases of voter suppression” while on the board. “I believe it taints my view of his character,” said Juror 121, who was excused for cause.

WHAT’S NEXT: Three panels of 24 prospective jurors will be brought in Friday at 9 a.m., noon and 3 p.m. to undergo the second round of questioning. It is hoped that the final 16 — a jury of 12, plus four alternates — will be selected on Monday, followed by some lingering motions that must be heard before opening statements are delivered. That means, in all likelihood, the trial will begin in earnest on Tuesday — in Fulton County. A change of venue, raised as a possibility by the judge on Tuesday, is all but moot at this point.

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