Prosecutors Drop Plea Agreement In Tabb Case

It appears accused killer and minister Michael Tabb will face a jury of his peers after all. The former Troup minister is accused of beating his wife Marla Tabb to death inside their church parsonage.

Tabb's appearance in Smith County court on Tuesday, marks his first court date since skipping his plea hearing a month ago. Rather than accepting a 50-year prison sentence in exchange for his guilty plea, Tabb never made it to court. Police later found him bleeding from an apparent self-inflicted stab wound on UT Tyler's campus.

Tabb's case has been nothing short of a mini-series, taking twists in directions that seem utterly unpredictable.

Tabb--still bearing a scar across his neck--was stoic as Smith County prosecutors told the court they expected to go to trial. The state anticipates a trial in this case, said Smith County District Attorney Jack Skeen on Tuesday. Skeen said Tabb's actions and his failure to appear in court caused them to drop the initial plea agreement.

Judge Dianne Devasto set Tabb's trial date for August 25, 2003 and a pretrial hearing 24 days before. Tabb's defense attorney Buck Files told the court he might need more time for preparation, since the case had been about to plea out of court.

Files told the court it's possible he'll file a change of venue because of extensive media coverage on the case.

Judge Dianne Devasto sent Tabb back to Smith County jail on the same bond after his status hearing Tuesday. Before dismissing the court, Devasto made one final ruling and restricted parties involved in the case from talking to the media.

   Kerri Panchuk, reporting.