Aug. 25, 2017 - Atlanta, GA - Claud “Tex” McIver stands with his attorneys, William Hill (left) and Steve Maples Friday in Fulton Superior Court. He faces murder charges in the shooting death of his wife, though he says it was an accident. A judge is weighing whether to grant McIver freedom from jail to visit his dying mother. BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM

Tex McIver asks to leave jail to see dying mother

Looking haggard as he walked into court Friday, a shackled Claud “Tex” McIver asked the judge to let him leave his jail cell to visit his dying mother in Texas.

The once finely attired attorney, now accused of killing his wife for her money, made the request in a written motion. He said his 98-year-old mother, Winnie, is in hospice suffering from pelvic fractures and end-stage lung problems.

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IN-DEPTH: Is Tex McIver influencing his murder case from behind bars?

The motion presented to Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said the 74-year-old McIver “prays to be near his mother while she is still in life. His suffering, having lost his wife and fearing the loss of his mother, is unimaginable.”

McIver attorney William Hill brought up the motion at the tail-end of a two-hour hearing that addressed several other motions. The judge said he would review it and respond next week.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has obtained exclusive audio recordings of three jailhouse phone calls and a videotaped visit. The recordings show McIver reaching out to influential people and a witness. Now you can decide for yourself.

A disappointed Hill said afterward, “She’ll be dead by then.”

Nearly a year has passed since McIver shot and killed his wife, business executive Diane McIver, while they were driving near Piedmont Park on Sept. 25. He has said the shooting was an accident, but Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard has charged McIver with malice murder, felony murder and five other counts.

The fall-from-grace story has gripped the public’s imagination with elements of class, violence and even race. Early on, a spokesman for McIver said the attorney pulled a gun from the console of the SUV because he believed they had driven into a Black Lives Matter protest and was fearful. McIver has since said he never uttered the words Black Lives Matter.

RELATED: Prosecutor says Tex McIver shouldn’t get bill

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Friday’s hearing largely focused on McIver’s defense team trying to suppress evidence seized during five searches of his Buckhead condo, his ranch in Putnam County and a storage unit. Investigators seized some 30 boxes of financial and personal records and several computers under the auspices of searching for a second will they believe was drafted by Diane McIver. They suspect that will was intended to diminish the amount of money received by her husband.

McIver’s attorneys say no such will exists, and Hill asserted Friday that the investigators failed to obtain the search warrants legally. He asserted that the DA’s office neglected to include details of the shooting that pointed to it being an accident. Had the judge known the full facts, he would not have granted the warrants, he said.

“The DA’s office was extremely selective in what they did not tell the judge,” Hill said.

During the hearing, Assistant District Attorney Adam Abbate questioned the DA investigator who obtained the search warrants.

Investigator Johnna Griffin said the investigators were searching for evidence of a second will, and whether “there was any financial motive, and we wanted to get a big picture of what was going on with the McIvers.”

Aug. 25, 2017 - Atlanta, GA - Prosecutors Clint Rucker (left) and Adam Abbate confer during hearing in Fulton Superior Court Friday. Claud “Tex” McIver faces murder charges in the shooting death of his wife, which he says was an accident. A judge weighed whether to grant McIver freedom from jail to visit his dying mother. . BOB ANDRES /BANDRES@AJC.COM
Photo: Bob Andres/The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

She indicated that the DA’s office followed proper procedure.

Arguments on the warrants will continue at a later court date.

Sitting at the defense table in a navy blue jail uniform, McIver looked a physical mess. Whereas he once had the well-coiffed visage of a high-powered attorney, he has, after nearly four months behind bars, let his white hair and beard grow long and ragged. He looked noticeably thinner, and his attorneys say he’s lost more than 20 pounds.

His appearance seems to grow worse with every court appearance, and while some observers expressed concern for him, others suspected he might be doing this to engender public sympathy.

McIver was jailed in April when he violated his bond conditions by having a handgun in his condo.

The DA’s office said they are reviewing McIver’s request to see his mother.

Legal experts say such requests are rare but that some are granted. In such cases, the judge may make the person wear an ankle monitor and pay the costs of a law enforcement escort.

“In a situation like this, where the person is up in age and a prominent attorney, the risk of him fleeing is slim, the risk of him harming the public is slim,” said Mike Puglise, a criminal defense attorney in Gwinnett County. “The judge may allow it.”

Prosecutors re-indicted McIver Tuesday on the same charges, saying they did so to correct the misspelling of a name in the original indictment. Defense attorneys, for their part, say they believe the DA took the case before another grand jury due to a decision by the state Supreme Court, which said the selection process for Fulton County grand juries was improper.

By taking the case to a new grand jury, prosecutors were trying to avoid being overturned on appeal due to that earlier Supreme Court court decision, Hill said.

McIver’s trial is slated to begin Oct. 30.

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