Jurors hear Tex McIver, on tape, describe fatal drive

McIver, an Atlanta attorney, is accused of intentionally killing his wife, Diane, as they rode in their SUV in Sept. 2016. McIver claims the shooting was an accident.

Outside of a brief, desperate voicemail played in court earlier this week, jurors in the Claud "Tex" McIver murder trial had not heard from the defendant in his own words.


On Thursday, jurors watched McIver — in an interview with Atlanta police recorded Sept. 28, 2016 — describe the events before, during and after the shooting of his wife, Diane, three days earlier. And, as has so often been the case in this engrossing melodrama, the now-75-year-old attorney’s words left room for considerable interpretation.

McIver described a menacing scene as the couple’s Ford Expedition, driven by Diane’s close friend Dani Jo Carter, exited the Downtown Connector onto Edgewood Avenue.

“I quickly said this is a big mistake,” he said. “We’ve gone to an area we don’t belong. Here we are in an almost new SUV and two women in the front seat.”

That’s when he asked for his .38 revolver, wrapped in a plastic grocery bag.

“Seemed like every turn we made the street was darker and there were more people milling about,” he said, describing the 200 or so yards from the exit ramp to Piedmont Avenue.

And then … “I got to an area where I felt safe and went to sleep,” McIver said.

He remembered Carter coming to a stop. McIver said he was handling the gun. “I didn’t realize it was in my lap. It went off,” he said.

Lead prosecutor Clint Rucker seized upon what McIver didn’t say. There was no mention of Black Lives Matter, a bump or a sleep disorder, he said, three elements of accounts describing what prompted him to get his gun out and what caused it to go off.

McIver’s attorney at the time, Steve Maples, told investigators his client had not cocked the revolver, which means it could have already been cocked. It’s a significant distinction, one that has yet to be clarified.

Tex McIver was never asked about it by police, defense co-counsel Bruce Harvey pointed out.

Jurors are sure to hear more about this topic as the trial continues.


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While Thursday's session lacked the dramatic testimony of previous days, there was still plenty to digest.

Eavesdropped: Emory Police Officer Frank Stroupe testified that, at the hospital, he saw Tex McIver and Maples speaking in a room. When he walked by, Stroupe said he heard McIver say, "'What do I say? Or what's the plan?' Something like that."

Emory Police Department Officer Frank Stroupe testifies during Day 8 of the Tex McIver murder trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 22, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Emory Police Department Officer Frank Stroupe testifies during Day 8 of the Tex McIver murder trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 22, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Spring Break? Prosecutors say they are unlikely to rest their case before next Friday, March 30th. The following week is spring break for Fulton County schools, a time when many families have long-planned vacations. So Judge Robert McBurney is giving the jurors an option: Continue through the first week of April or suspend the trial for one week, resuming April 9th. Their decision is expected soon.

Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Robert McBurney confers with prosecutors and defense attorneys while waiting for a late juror on Day 8 of the Tex McIver murder trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 22, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Robert McBurney confers with prosecutors and defense attorneys while waiting for a late juror on Day 8 of the Tex McIver murder trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 22, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

11 Angry Jurors: Court was delayed when Juror 61 arrived 30 minutes late. While they waited, some of the other jurors asked whether they could have her removed from the panel. On this, the state and the defense agreed, and the judge concurred: Juror 61 stays.


» MORE: Let our criminal justice reporter Bill Rankin lead you through the twists and turns of the McIver murder case. Listen to his Breakdown podcast.


Hunger Games: Tensions between McBurney and Harvey had been simmering for some time and, with the lunch hour at hand, they finally boiled over. It was 12:35 p.m., already a few minutes past the usual start time for lunch. Harvey, about to cross-examine an Emory police officer, indicated it was a good time for a break. The judge reminded counsel it wasn't his decision.

Tex McIver (left) sits with his defense attorneys (from left) Don Samuel, Amanda Clark Palmer and Bruce Harvey during Day 8 of the Tex McIver murder trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 22, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM
Tex McIver (left) sits with his defense attorneys (from left) Don Samuel, Amanda Clark Palmer and Bruce Harvey during Day 8 of the Tex McIver murder trial at Fulton County Courthouse on Thursday, March 22, 2018. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Harvey erupted. “I don’t need that,” he said. “We got one six-minute break in the morning. We get 45 minutes at lunch. We get six minutes in the afternoon. I don’t think that’s a fair comment.”

And with that, the cross-examination continued.