Tex McIver murder trial includes innuendo on his fidelity to wife

Money, the state said in its opening statement three weeks ago, drove Claud "Tex" McIver to fatally shoot his wife, Diane. But as the trial has progressed, prosecutors have implied the 75-year-old attorney may have been in an inappropriate relationship.

They’ve done so without direct evidence, but plenty of innuendo — a risky strategy intended to impugn the defendant’s character. But does the prosecution risk its own credibility with jurors if it cannot prove infidelity?

“They better have their facts right, with corroboration, before they malign both people,” said Atlanta attorney Esther Panitch, who has closely followed the Tex McIver murder trial. “It’s already a problem since they didn’t mention it in opening.”

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

The woman in question is a masseuse, Annie Anderson, who worked for and was close with both McIvers, visiting the couple’s Putnam County ranch and even traveling overseas with them. She has not been called to the witness stand so far, but prosecutors still have dozens of witnesses to come.

Last week, Jay Grover, a friend and business associate of Diane's, testified that he visited Tex at the ranch less than a week after Diane McIver's death and was surprised to see Anderson there with him. He noted that she was wearing rain boots he had given Diane for Christmas.

RELATED: A look back at Week 2 of the McIver trial 

But that potentially damaging revelation was undercut Monday by Anne Schwall, a friend of the McIvers and mother of their godson, Austin. After defense co-counsel Bruce Harvey showed her a photograph of a closet at the ranch with a row of rain boots, Schwall explained that the footwear was available for visitors to use if they were riding horses.

The state didn’t stop there. Rachel Styles, an employee at Corey Enterprises with Diane McIver and a longtime friend of the couple, confirmed that Anderson slept on the floor in McIver’s bedroom on the night after the shooting. Styles also stayed the night, sleeping on the sofa.

Asked her opinion of Tex McIver, Styles didn’t hesitate: “He is a very honorable, trustworthy man,” she said.

It’s unclear what others in the McIvers’ social circle think about Tex McIver’s relationship with Anderson. There’s little doubt, however, how many now feel about the defendant.

Dani Jo Carter testified last week that she no longer viewed him fondly. She was a close friend of the couple who was driving the Ford Expedition when Tex McIver — accidentally, he insists — shot his wife from the backseat in September 2016,

And Diane McIver’s boss, mentor and friend, 86-year-old William “Billy” Corey, barely hid his disdain for Tex McIver under oath Monday morning.

Corey said he never asked Tex McIver what happened in the SUV. Asked why not, he responded, “Hell, I knew what happened to her. He shot her in the back.”

Schwall testified she still had warm feelings for the defendant, whom she considers a father figure. She said Diane McIver had told her she wanted Austin to inherit the ranch. Shortly after her death, Tex McIver told Schwall he intended to honor those wishes.

“He wanted to make it right by her or she wouldn’t let him into Heaven,” Schwall said.

The prosecution alleges there is a missing “new” will that Diane McIver drew up two or three years before her death that was not favorable to Tex McIver. That will has not been located, but an older will, written in 2006, is in effect. At the time the older will was drawn up, the McIvers’ godson Austin Schwall had not been born.

A former co-worker of Diane McIver’s at Corey, Styles testified that she believes she made a copy of a new will for Diane in late 2014 to early 2015.

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

Credit: Channel 2 Action News

“She said, ‘I need you to make some copies of these papers. I cannot trust anyone else,” Styles said. When Styles returned the copies, McIver replied “Thank you so much. This is my new will.” Asked if she looked at the papers, Styles said she did not. “There was no way I was going to betray her trust.” Styles said she has never seen that will again.

The McIvers had been contemplating updates to their wills as far back as 2011. The couple had met with an estate lawyer, Harold Hudson, who testified they could not agree on what would happen to the ranch when they died.

“I’m not going to leave my half of the ranch to your estate,” Diane McIver wrote in an email to her husband.

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WHAT HAPPENED MONDAY: Lots of talk about the McIvers' estate planning, with no real resolution. The state continued to drop hints about a relationship between the defendant and a masseuse.

WHAT'S NEXT: Expect some familiar faces on the witness stand as prosecutors are expected to call local journalists who interviewed Tex McIver after his wife's death. They'll attempt to show McIver's varying accounts of what happened the night he shot his wife