Channel 2 Action News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will bring you LIVE gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Tex McIver murder trial. Check back on ajc.com each day for a live blog from the courtroom and daily video recaps. To keep up with each day’s story and see previous coverage, go to myajc.com/crime/.
This is our live recounting of testimony occurring in the courtroom on Tuesday March 20:
5:04 p.m. Court is adjourned.
Judge Robert McBurney announces that on Thursday the jury will work late, until 6 p.m.
Dani Jo Carter will be back on the stand Wednesday morning.
Under questioning from prosecuting attorney Clint Rucker, the jury hears Tex McIver asked Dani Jo Carter to accompany him to revise his will to be more what he thought Diane McIver would’ve wanted: He wanted to leave the McIver ranch to their godson and to leave nothing to his own three children from a previous marriage. Carter did not accompany him to make the change.
Harvey is questioning Carter on what she knew about Tex McIver having a sleep disorder prior to the shooting. She said he told her that when he woke up, he couldn’t distinguish between dreams and reality. He would also lash out upon waking. Carter confirms that Diane McIver was afraid he might hit her in his sleep.
This testimony goes to the assertion made by the defense in opening statements that Tex had sleep disorder that may have played a role in his discharging the gun when his wife was shot. Earlier today Harvey established with Carter that Tex was sleeping during the ride into Atlanta.
Dani Jo Carter, in talking with Atlanta police about the details of the shooting, referred to it as an accident.
Harvey asks if she neglected to mention to one of the detectives the request Tex McIver had made that she lie about her role in the incident on the night of the shooting.
Carter agreed she did not mention it. “It was a bad conversation that sounded very bad for Tex.”
Let our criminal justice reporter Bill Rankin lead you through the twists and turns of the McIver murder case. Listen to his Breakdown podcast to learn more about the case.
The jury has returned and the judge accidentally begins testimony before the court reporter has taken her seat. A quick restart and Bruce Harvey is resuming his cross-examination of Dani Jo Carter questioning her interview with the Atlanta Police Department on the night of the shooting. She made reference to being left alone that night after being informed that her best friend, Diane McIver, had died at the hospital.
“It was horrible. I was scared down there. It was a big empty building,” she said. She said she cried and she wasn’t sure why she was still alone. “I didn’t like one of the policemen who was trying to interview me and I didn’t want to talk to him again.”
3:24 p.m. The jury is taking a short break.
Harvey is recasting the conversation in the Emory emergency room between Tex McIver and Dani Jo Carter in which she has said Tex asked her to lie to police about her involvement in the shooting incident.
Carter recounts that Tex said, “I don’t trust these guys,” as he looked toward a uniformed officer walking through the emergency room.
In keeping with her testimony on Monday, Carter recounts what McIver said to her next: “I hate to see you get wrapped up in this, Dani Jo. You just need to tell them you’re down here as a friend of the family.”
Harvey interjects: “You’re already wrapped up in it. You’ve already handed the valet keys to him ... gone out to car to get his phone and bring it back in...” Harvey said of Tex’s request: “Wasn’t that just the dumbest thing you’ve ever heard?”
“It didn’t make sense to me,” Carter agrees.
Harvey said everyone understood Tex McIver had done the shooting. “There was no question about that. Nobody was denying that. It wasn’t a mystery,” Harvey said. “It was just stupid, wasn’t it?”
Carter said she declined to go along with Tex’s request. “I said, ‘I’m not going to lie.’”
Harvey replied, “And then he said, ‘I’m not telling you to do that.’”
Tex McIver’s high-profile defense attorney, Bruce Harvey, has been cross-examining the prosecution’s witness, Dani Jo Carter since 11 a.m. Carter was Diane McIver’s friend for about 41 years.
Harvey has narrated in fine detail the days and hours leading up to the shooting that Carter witnessed.
Inside the Emory emergency room, as Diane McIver was being treated, Carter and Tex McIver spoke.
Harvey recounted the conversation: Tex McIver said, “I feel like (expletive). I feel horrible.” He said it reminded him of Vietnam. Carter asked him if he wanted to see a chaplain. He replied, “I hope we don’t need it.”
After the shooting has taken place, at Tex McIver’s suggestion, Carter begins driving down Piedmont Avenue toward Emory University Hospital. Harvey shows a photo of a blue Emory Hospital sign along the route that they were taking indicating a turn that would lead them toward that hospital.
Harvey now remarks on Tex McIver holding the head of Diane McIver as she began to struggle to breathe. He says this was necessary to keep her upright so she can breathe.
Harvey is trying to establish what Dani Jo Carter saw Tex McIver doing with his hands in the moment after the gun was fired inside the SUV as they drove through Atlanta. Carter said she knew Tex was right handed, and she now seems to have been confused at one point about which hand was holding the gun.
Bruce Harvey is pointing out some disparities in what Dani Jo Carter told police and what she has testified in this trial.
Trial is underway again. Defense attorney Bruce Harvey is now questioning the sole witness to the shooting, Dani Jo Carter, about the drive into Atlanta on the night of the shooting. He has established that Tex McIver was asleep in the back seat for a while before the women decide to exit the highway to avoid some traffic. Harvey narrates what took place then inside the vehicle: Diane McIver spoke to Tex to wake him up. As he wakes, he sees the exit they are taking and speaks up from the backseat to say, “Girls, I wish you hadn’t have done this. This is a really bad idea.”
“Darlin’ would you hand me my gun?” Tex asks.
Diane McIver told him she didn’t know where the gun was. Tex directed her to open the console between the driver and passenger front seats. He further told her it was inside a grocery bag there.
Harvey is asking if either woman tried to convince him that taking out a gun is unnecessary or a bad idea. Dani Jo Carter indicates they did not.
Need to catch up on the testimony?
The jury has not yet been reseated from lunch, but Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney is back on the bench hearing prosecutors make the case for calling reporters who interviewed Tex McIver. McBurney wants them to exhaust other possible alternatives first.
An hour from the ranch, the trio goes to the Longhorn in Conyers to eat a steak dinner. There, they had planned to meet Craig Stringer, a friend of the McIvers who occasionally played golf with them. They waited for Stringer to arrive. As they waited for a table, the group talked politics with the bartender.
“Was there anything other than the wonderfulness of the day?” Harvey asked in his cross-examination of Dani Jo Carter. “There was nothing to distinguish this from any other time that you all had been to the ranch?”
“It was a great day,” Carter agreed.
The jury is now dismissed for lunch to return at 1:10 p.m.
"It was a typical day. Another typical Sunday at the ranch." Bruce Harvey tells the jury of the day the shooting happened. "Everything had been storybook -- the ranch, the horseback riding, the cushy meal. Another wonderful day in the life of Diane McIver, Tex McIver and Dani Jo Carter."
Referring to the opened bottle of wine later found inside their vehicle after shooting, Harvey is asking who brought out the bottle at the ranch -- the “roadie” for drinking on the road. Carter said she doesn’t remember whose idea it was.
On the day of the shooting, Sept. 25, 2016, the plan was for Carter to ride the horse that Tex McIver had given her along with a young couple that exercised the McIver’s horses. Tex and Diane McIver typically kept an afternoon tee time on the golf course. Harvey continues to emphasize there is no inkling of any trouble with the couple.
Harvey is talking about activities at the McIver’s Putnam County ranch on the weekend of the shooting. On Saturday night, Sept. 24, 2016, Tex McIver cooked while Dani Jo Carter and Diane McIver were watching football. Diane was an “obnoxious” fan of Auburn, Carter said.
"It's another wonderful day down at the ranch," Bruce Harvey says. Carter confirms.
"There was nothing confided in you about their relationship, their finances, anything like that?" Harvey asks. Dani Jo: "Correct."
Harvey is now taking Carter through the details of the weekend of the shooting. In his questioning, Harvey is establishing that it was a weekend like any other, no signs of acrimony, no strained interactions between Tex and Diane; only plans for a leisurely weekend.
Austin Schwall was born in 2006, at the time the McIvers and Dani Jo Carter were no longer as close as they had been. Defense attorney Bruce Harvey is making the point that she wouldn’t have known what the financial arrangements were for their godson, Austin Schwall.
He is also making the point that her friendship was with both Diane and Tex after the friendship was revived in 2009.
Despite her being a regular at the ranch, Dani Jo Carter never rode together with the McIvers to the ranch prior to the weekend of the shooting.
Defense attorney Bruce Harvey is now beginning his questioning of the star witness for the prosecution, Dani Jo Carter. Harvey is recounting Diane McIver’s first marriage and a long, bitter divorce. Carter was her friend before and during that marriage and was present when Tex and Diane first began a relationship. Carter agrees that Tex McIver was a gentlemanly suitor who pursued Diane, even though she was initially reluctant.
Before the McIvers were married, Dani Jo Carter had helped Tex choose a wedding ring. Yet around that time the two women’s friendship was broken by Carter’s drinking.
“The distance between you and Diane was so great at that time that you weren’t even invited to the wedding.” Harvey said. As of September 2005 they drifted further apart and it wasn’t until 2009 that the two women repaired their friendship, Carter said.
After Dani Jo Carter identifies several photos of people who were within the McIver’s orbit, a morning break is called.
Rucker is asking Dani Jo Carter about the several occasions when she took a loan from Diane McIver. “We signed documents just like you were at the bank. With collateral.” Interest was also charged. “I was comfortable with it and she was,” Carter said.
Carter’s largest loan was for $15,000 for a car purchase. That loan was still in existence when McIver died.
Carter had set up automatic payments to Diane McIver’s accounts to repay that loan.
Our criminal justice reporter Bill Rankin is intimate with the twists and turns of the McIver murder case. He shares his insights on our Breakdown McIver podcast. Download Episode 6 from Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. Or you can stream it from myajc.com, right here, right now
From her time on the McIver’s ranch, where they occasionally took target practice, Dani Jo Carter is recounting Tex McIver’s safety practices on the range there. She said he exercised care and cautioned others about safe gun handling.
Carter also talks about Tex McIver teaching his godson, Austin Schwall, to handle a gun safely beginning at age 9 or 10. The guns at the ranch were kept in a gunsafe, she said, in addition to guns at the condo where the McIvers lived in Buckhead. Tex McIver had eye and ear protection for use on the gun range at the ranch.
Clint Rucker is again questioning Dani Jo Carter, Diane McIver’s close friend, about Tex McIver’s request that she lie to police about how she came to be at the Emory University Hospital emergency room on the night of the shooting. She drove Tex and Diane McIver to the hospital following the shooting inside the SUV.
She has testified she refused to lie about her role in the incident and say that she had just arrived at the hospital as a friend of the family.
She later told the Atlanta Police officers investigating the shooting about Tex McIver’s request. However, she did agree to accompany Tex McIver to Channel 2 Action News reporter Dale Cardwell’s house on Oct. 5 to talk about the shooting. Asked why she didn’t refuse Tex, Carter said, “I didn’t think ‘no’ would be good enough.”
Good morning. Today’s testimony is about to resume now, a few minutes late. The only witness to the Tex McIver shooting, Dani Jo Carter, is returning to the stand. She spent hours yesterday being questioned by prosecuting attorney Clint Rucker.
For continuing coverage of the McIver trial come to our subscriber website, MyAJC.com for the latest episode of our podcast “Breakdown: The McIver Murder Case.” You can stream the podcast directly from our website or find it on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform.