Jury in McIver murder trial prepares to sort out details

After 19 days of testimony and nearly 80 witnesses, the murder trial of Claud “Tex” McIver is nearing the end. The state plans to call two or three rebuttal witnesses on Monday, with closing arguments slated for Tuesday morning. Jurors will then go about deciding the question that’s hung over this Tom Wolfe-ian saga since that late summer evening when McIver fatally shot his wife Diane: Accident or murder?

Here's how prosecutor Seleta Griffin framed the case in her in her opening statement on March 13: "The defendant wants you to believe that the death of Diane McIver was an accident. This was no accident at all. The evidence will show this was indeed murder. All the events on Sept 25, 2016, were planned, intended and calculated."

“Nothing the state will present to you will prove that this was not an accident,” countered defense co-counsel Amanda Clark Palmer.


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“There’s really one thing you need to know about Tex McIver and Diane McIver to know that he did not intentionally shoot his wife,” Clark Palmer said in her opening. “And that is that he loved her. Deeply loved her. And she loved him back.”

Here’s a look back at the key subjects, and personalities, sure to be debated in the jury room next week.

The motive: When Diane died, Tex McIver's bottom line jumped from "negative $5,000 to over $1.1 million cash instantly," Griffin said "And he was the executor and beneficiary of Diane's $7 million estate."

The defense countered that Tex needed the cash flow she provided — in essence, his wife was worth more to him alive than dead. Regardless, his financial outlook was bleak.

Tex McIver was spending more than he was making. The couple's Putnam County ranch was his responsibility, and its upkeep cost him over $20,000 a month — double his monthly salary. No longer a partner at his law firm, McIver had become increasingly dependent on his wife for cash. He had already borrowed $350,000 from Diane, and the ranch was collateral on that loan. McIver feared he might lose the ranch in his wife's newly drawn-up will, prosecutors said. But a tangible copy of that alleged second will never materialized. Testimony about its existence was allowed into evidence, but will that be enough for jurors?

The eyewitness: The testimony from Dani Jo Carter — who was driving the McIvers' Ford Expedition when Tex, sitting in the back seat, shot Diane — was highly anticipated, and she didn't disappoint. Most damaging for the defense was her testimony that McIver asked her to tell police she wasn't in the car when the shooting occurred. She also disputed elements of McIver's statements to police about why he took the gun out in the first place. She testified there were no groups of people gathered on Edgewood Drive, where Carter had exited to bypass traffic on the Downtown Connector, or on any part of the drive into Midtown, and at no time did she ever feel threatened.

But that’s not what she told police. And two subsequent witnesses testified that Carter told them Tex was asleep when he shot Diane. She neglected to mention that in her account to jurors.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

The defendant: There's no debating that the defendant's behavior in the days and weeks following his wife's death was at times inappropriate and downright suspicious. On the day after his late wife's death, McIver asked two of Diane's work colleagues if they knew whether he could collect her Social Security benefits. Then there was the conversation with Diane's personal assistant, Terry Brown, a week before his wife's memorial service. Brown testified that McIver wondered aloud if he might have a second chance with neighbor Janie Calhoun. "He didn't think (Calhoun, whom he previously dated) was happy with her husband and maybe he could get her back," Brown said.

Credit: ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJ

Credit: ALYSSA POINTER/ALYSSA.POINTER@AJ

The defense tried to explain some of Tex McIver’s more controversial actions, including his decision to sell off his wife’s jewelry and wardrobe just two months after the shooting. The attorney who advised him to sell them testified that he told Tex the value of the items would decrease the longer he waited. He also suggested Tex could use that money to pay off the bequests in Diane’s will.

Was it murder?: It may be the defense's strongest bit of evidence, the unsolicited statement Diane McIver provided to one of the doctors trying to save her life at Emory University Hospital: This was an accident.

Carter was similarly unequivocal when she told Atlanta police, hours after the shooting, that she had no doubt the shooting was unintentional.