Prosecutors drop salacious hints, hammer motive in McIver trial

When Claud “Tex” McIver finally got a look at his late wife’s bank accounts, he was surprised, Diane McIver’s personal assistant testified Wednesday.

“He thought she had more money” than the slightly less than $400,000 that was spread out over various accounts, said Terry Brown, Diane McIver’s former assistant for seven years.

Prosecutors have spent the first two days of the Tex McIver murder trial detailing the victim's finances — how much she spent and who she spent it on. "When it came to business, there was no fooling around with Diane," Brown said.

Diane McIver maintained separate accounts from her husband, who had become dependent on her cash flow. The prosecution and the defense agree on that. But prosecutors contend Tex McIver had grown to resent his wife's control and feared it might cost him ownership of the couple's Putnam County ranch.

It may be a plausible basis for motive, but proof has remained elusive. Tex McIver is charged with intentionally shooting his wife in the back as they were being driven through Midtown Atlanta in September 2016. He maintains it was an accident.

“So far I haven’t heard evidence of a compelling financial motive for Tex to want Diane dead,” said criminal defense attorney Esther Panitch, who has closely followed the trial.

On Wednesday, prosecutors sought to demonstrate friction in the McIvers’ marriage, which up until now has been portrayed as storybook.

A receptionist in Diane McIver’s office testified that she saw Tex McIver looking “stern” and “red-faced” two days before the shooting. On the same day, Elaine Williams, a paralegal at U.S. Enterprises — where Diane McIver was president — said Diane appeared “distraught.”

If McIver was angry, what about? And why was his wife looking sad?

Those questions remained unanswered. Judge Robert McBurney would not allow the paralegal to share what Diane McIver allegedly told her.

But there were plenty of other salacious details to pick over.

There was the conversation Brown said he had with Tex one week before Diane’s memorial, in which McIver wondered whether 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.

The state only learned of that conversation last week. Brown said he had kept it to himself, and didn’t even tell Calhoun. “I just didn’t think she needed to hear it. … She had enough going on already. We all did,” he said.


» Key Players: Here are the main figures in the Tex McIver murder trial

» Map: How the McIver shooting unfolded

» Photos: Tex McIver selling wife's clothes, jewelry in estate sale

Judge McBurney allowed the testimony over defense objections, saying it was relevant because McIver’s lawyers have maintained that their client and his late wife were the happiest of couples.

Calhoun testified to that effect on Tuesday, saying the McIvers’ relationship was “better than perfect.” Brown, under questioning from the defense, agreed they had a good marriage.

Testimony resumes Thursday morning.