An autopsy released today on Diane McIver, the Atlanta businesswoman shot by her husband in their SUV, confirmed earlier reports that she died of a gunshot wound to the back.
The Fulton County Medical Examiner’s report listed the cause of death as homicide, which only indicates that a person was killed by another person. It does not imply a judgment on the legality of the action.
Claud “Tex” McIver has said he shot his wife by accident. Atlanta Police continue to investigate and have said little about the case.
Diane McIver’s death has captured widespread attention. The McIvers were a wealthy, well-connected Atlanta power couple. He is a top labor attorney and influential member of the state Republican Party. She was president of Corey Airport Services based in Atlanta.
Tex McIver’s attorney, Stephen Maples, has said the couple were being driven home to Buckhead from their other home in Putnam County on Sept. 25 when they pulled off I-85 onto Edgewood Avenue due to traffic. Tex McIver was sitting in the rear seat and his wife in the front passenger seat when they spotted some people milling about and pulled a gun from the center console of the SUV. Maples said homeless people have been known to hang out under the overpass there.
Soon after, Tex McIver fell back to sleep while a family friend continued driving, Maples said. McIver told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he had the handgun wrapped in a plastic bag in his lap when he said he suddenly awoke near Piedmont Park and the gun went off.
The autopsy said the entrance wound was on the woman’s left middle back. It damaged her diaphragm, adrenal gland, left kidney, pancreas and stomach.
The bullet’s path was from right to left, from back to front and downward. The exit wound was on the left upper quadrant of the abdomen.
Maples, the attorney for Tex McIver, said he was surprised that the autopsy found that the bullet traveled downward, when his examination of the bullet holes in the leather seat indicated an upward trajectory.
Maples added, however, “I don’t know what her position was when she was shot.”
He said the other findings were largely consistent with what he knows.
Dr. Michael Heninger, who performed the autopsy for the medical examiner’s office, said he found that the bullet traveled downward about an inch and three quarters in her body. But he acknowledged that such measurements have a margin of error, and that consequently he believes the shot passed through her in a generally level trajectory. The trajectory could also have been affected by the position of the body.
The autopsy also said, “The entrance wound is not irregular which suggests the projectile did not pass through an intermediate target.”
Heninger said he cannot definitively say from the autopsy results whether the bullet traveled through the passenger seat. But the bullet entered her body cleanly. Often, when a bullet strikes an object beforehand the bullet begins to wobble or tumble, he said.
Maples has said the bullet traveled through the seat, and he has shown this reporter pictures of the seat, with a hole in the front and back. On Wednesday, he said the seat was so soft that it did not offer enough resistance to deflect the bullet or change its travel.
On Tuesday, the AJC reported that Tex McIver had been charged some 25 years ago with firing a gun at a car containing three teens in DeKalb County.
A grand jury indicted McIver but prosecutors declined to pursue the 1990 case after the parties settled it privately, according to court records obtained by The AJC. No one was injured in the incident.