Minister Accused Of Murder Found Stabbed On Plea Date

A Troup minister accused of beating his wife to death last August landed in a Tyler hospital with violent injuries Tuesday morning.

It came on a day when prosecutors thought their case against Michael Tabb was finally coming to an end. Tabb (41) charged in the death of Marla Tabb, was expected to plead guilty in Judge Diane Devasto's court early Tuesday. Instead, a faculty member at UT-Tyler found Tabb bleeding from multiple stab wounds next to a lake on campus. There's no word yet on whether the wounds were self-inflicted.

Tabb failing to make his 10 a.m. hearing at the courthouse prompted Smith County authorities to launch a Tyler search. Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen said authorities quickly geared into an area where Tabb's parents lived. Skeen says the former minister left his parents residence around 8 a.m. for a walk that same morning.

"They're going to start looking in the areas around his parents house because he was on foot," says Skeen. "His vehicle is still at home."

Around 9 a.m, a few miles down the road from the Tabb home, a UT-Tyler employee reported finding an injured man laying next to a lake on campus. Authorities confirmed the man laying there bleeding from stab wounds, one to the neck, was 41-year old Michael Tabb.

EMS teams moved Tabb to East Texas Medical Center, where he underwent approximately three hours of surgery, according to Tabb defense attorney Buck Files. The latest reports have Tabb listed in critical condition.

Prosecutors later in the day requested that Tabb's bond be increased to a million dollars saying he's now considered a potential flight risk. Tabb's attorney Buck Files says he assumes Tabb would still accept a plea agreement, but say it's too soon to explain why Tabb never made his court date.

"The course of where we are is we don't know why he's in the hospital. We just know he's in the hospital," says Files. "Could it have been a suicide attempt? Sure. Could it have been a victim of crime? Sure. Until we figure out where he is, it's premature to figure out where we're going in the future."

As for Tabb's plea agreement prosecutors say they want to consult Marla Tabb's family before making their next move.

Authorities say they're not ruling out the possibility someone else knows more about the stabbing. They did get a description of a man seen leaving that area. But at this time, its not a substantiated claim.

Troup residents who've spent months dealing with the case had varying reactions to Tuesday's events.

"Personally, I can understand it," I can feel sorry for him. He's in such a state of distraught," says Norman Warren.

Others prefer to move on and heal.

   "I think originally it was a black eye on the city of Troup. "It has been some time," recalls John Whitsell with First United Methodist Church of Troup. "Certainly time can heal some wounds. I think the city has moved past this, and this is certainly a tragic twist to what was already a tragic situation.