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 Friday, March 23:
5:22 p.m. Jury is dismissed
Court will resume at 9 a.m. Monday.
In speaking to Dani Jo Carter, the only witness to the McIver shooting, Johansen testifies what Carter said about the moment before the shooting: “(Dani Jo) told me that Diane said to him, ‘Tex, wake up! Don’t go to sleep. You won’t sleep tonight.’ Then boom!”
The statement was made the day after the incident happened. Johansen said she did not question Dani Jo Carter further because she was upset. And Johansen also did not ask Tex McIver about the circumstances either.
On Oct. 22 Johansen discovered that Diane McIver’s remains were still at the crematorium. She paid the bill anonymously without talking to Tex McIver. “I just wanted her out of there,” she said.
Catherine Johansen, a former neighbor of the McIvers and onetime friend, is recounting her relationship with Diane McIver. Asked if Diane ever had “a sharp tongue” she replies yes, and laughs. “You always knew where you stood with Diane.” Although she was involved in the McIver’s wedding, but the two women later had a disagreement and Johansen said she ended the friendship in 2009.
However she did visit with Tex McIver after Diane died. After that, Johansen had a conversation with Tex about Diane McIver’s will. He informed her that she was in the will.
“I was stunned. Because we were estranged for several years now.” Johansen said $100,000 was left to her along with some pieces of jewelry that she was unfamiliar with.
She said she has still not received the money.
Defense attorney Don Samuel is asking about the urn that Tex McIver requested as “classy but Western.” He also wanted 10 small “keepsake” urns. On Oct. 4, McIver said he had to wait until an “estate account” was opened at a bank to pay bills on behalf of Diane McIver’s estate.
Funeral director Eidson is explaining that they were unable to find a large urn that met his specifications.
Eidson testifies that weeks pass and Tex McIver still does not come to pick up his wife’s cremains, nor does he pay the bill. On Oct. 22, a friend of Diane’s pays the bill, totaling about $1,600. The friend wanted to remain anonymous. She was bothered that her friend’s remains were in limbo.
Six days later, Eidson says she received a letter and a check from Tex McIver. He apologizes for the delay. The check is drawn on Diane McIver’s estate. She returned the check to McIver, but told him a friend had already paid the bill.
Tex McIver finally picked up his wife’s cremated remains on Nov. 8.
Wendy Eidson, who handled Diane McIver’s remains is now testifying. She said that Tex McIver requested a classic urn for his wife with “western flair.” While two friends of Diane’s came to the funeral home to see her before she was cremated, Tex McIver did not, Eidson told jurors.
At a later date, Eidson says she met with Tex McIver. He appeared surprised that he would not be eligible to collect his wife’s Social Security benefits. Tex McIver then asked if he could pay for the cremation services at a later date, saying he did not want to co-mingle his funds with those of his dead wife.
“It wasn’t what I was expecting to hear,” Eidson said.
Juror questions for Ahlers center on the speed with which the auction and sale was arranged. Ahlers said of the timing, “Ultimately it was their decision. We make recommendations...”
He earlier referred to it as a rushed sale, he now clarifies the rush was a combination of issues from both sides. It was a rush from our perspective to market things at the most appropriate time. From their perspective, they wanted to get things underway.”
Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer is doing a cross examination on auction house owner Robert Ahlers. She is asking about the timing of the estate sale and auction coming so soon after Diane McIver’s death. Some of the fashion items, such as fur coats, would bring a better price during the cold months, he agrees.
Ahlers is talking about the vast collection of fashion, fur coats, shoes, hats and jewelry that were offered at an estate sale held in early December at the Ahlers facility.
He said a large number of people attended to see some 2,500 items. After several days, he said close to $100,000 was made, with $67,848 earned after the commission for Ahlers was taken out.
“The media exposure obviously got the word out. There were hundreds of people in line that morning and through the course of the first day, 300 to 500 people.” The more valuable items were disposed of at an auction held in January, 2017.
Robert Ahlers is sworn in. He has been in the antiques and auction business for 25 years. He was contacted in early November, 2016 by Tex McIver to manage the sale of Diane McIver’s personal property, including clothes and jewelry. An auction was held in January 2017.
Read our earlier coverage: McIver auction fascinating, awkward
After checking with both groups of attorneys and members of the jury, Judge McBurney said the trial will be on a break the week of April 2. It will resume on Monday, April 9.
The jury is still out but the judge is speaking to some jurors about the upcoming trial schedule.
Yesterday Judge Robert McBurney asked jurors to decide if they could be out on the week of April 2 for spring break and return on the week of April 9 to finish the trial. He is speaking to some jurors who have conflicts with the plan.
The court has taken a break for lunch and will return at 1:05 p.m.
Before they took a recess, a juror question, submitted through the judge, asked why Dani Jo Carter had left her home one night. Grover said she did not want to participate in a media appearance Tex McIver’s lawyer, Stephen Maples, was trying to orchestrate.
“Because Steve Maples was going to send an investigator to pick her up and bring her to his office to give a deposition statement with the media present and she did not want to do that,” Grover testified.
He was then excused from the stand.
Defense lawyer Amanda Clark Palmer is now questioning Grover and has immediately zeroed in on Anderson, the masseuse.
Under questioning from Clark Palmer, Grover acknowledges that Anderson also gave massages to Diane McIver and her boss, Billy Corey.
Grover also agrees that Anderson was a friend of the McIvers who sometimes traveled with them to places like South Africa.
After a short break, Grover is back on the stand.
Grover is testifying that seven days after the shooting, he traveled to the McIvers’ Putnam County ranch. Tex McIver was there along with his masseuse, Annie Anderson. Rucker asked if Grover noticed anything about what Anderson was wearing.
“She wearing a pair of rain boots that my fiancee and I had given Diane for Christmas,” Grover said.
Anderson’s name has come up a few times already during the trial. Dani Jo Carter testified that she saw Anderson giving Tex McIver a massage in the bedroom of his Buckhead condo a few days after the shooting.
Grover also testified that on Friday, Sept. 30 he saw Tex McIver rushing off to a meeting. McIver said his lawyers who were upset about an article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Tex McIver said his lawyers told him he had “(expletive) up the case.” McIver told Grover that he and Bill Crane, his public relations spokesman, had vetted the article and it was accurate. “I don't know what they're so upset about," McIver said, according to Grover.
Read the AJC article that Tex McIver’s lawyers were upset about : Atlanta attorney says gun in his lap went off
Grover is testifying that some 48 hours after his wife died McIver seemed preoccupied with money. On the second night following the shooting, Tex McIver asked Grover if he “knew anything about Social Security.” He was trying to determine if he could collect his dead wife’s benefits, Grover said. McIver also asked another friend about obtaining a seat on the board of an Oklahoma-based a tobacco company that would pay $100,000 a year. Grover testified.
The testimony has made a detour into a discussion on wine. The McIvers, Grover said, were “quite the
connoisseurs of fine wine.”
Prosecutor Clint Rucker is showing photos of a section of the McIvers’ Buckhead condo showing several hundred bottles of wine in shelves along the wall. Their ranch in Putnam County also had a fully-equipped wine cellar.
“I don’t think there was ever a time when I was around them in a social situation where there wasn’t wine being consumed,” Grover testified.
Rucker asked Grover if he had ever heard Tex McIver say he didn’t drink red wine because it gave him a headache
“No,” Grover replied. “But I suppose if you drink enough of any wine it will give you a headache
On the Tuesday following the shooting, Grover says he and Corey met with Dani Jo Carter, who was driving the McIvers that night, at the Buckhead condo of Janie Calhoun, Diane McIver’s close friend and neighbor.
At one point, Tex McIver stopped by.
“He set down in the chair and he looked over at me and said ‘Jay can you believe they want to charge me with reckless conduct for this thing?’” Grover recalled.
Grover said he was “taken aback by that.”
“I said ‘Tex I think there are some elements of a crime here,’” Grover replied.
“I was actually shocked that would be the first thing out of his mouth,” Grover said.
McIver never mentioned the circumstances of the shooting. After a short time, his cell phone rang.
“He said to me ‘this is my PR guy, Bill Crane,’” Grover said. McIver left Calhoun’s condo speaking on the phone.
Grover testifies that Tex McIver called him the morning after the shooting and told him Diane was dead. In that call, Tex McIver didn’t volunteer the details of what happened but he asked Grover to tell Billy Corey that Diane had died.
Corey was Diane’s longtime boss and mentor and the two were exceedingly close.
Grover referred to the relationship as akin to a father-daughter or husband-wife. When they ate a meal together, Grover said, they would share a plate of food.
Good morning. Court is back in session for Day 9 of the Tex McIver murder trial. We are hearing now from Jay Grover, vice president of special projects at Corey Enterprises, the company Diane McIver led.
Grover described Diane as “very hard-nosed, very driven.” He also said his boss had a sharp tongue.
“Diane had a very acerbic wit about her. She picked at you a lot, she picked at me personally.”
Asked if that ever made him uncomfortable, Grover replied, “oh yes.”
“I’d have to bite my tongue sometimes because it would be very easy to lash out. It wasn’t malicious to a point where it was mean-spirited but it got quite annoying and aggravating.”
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