The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action news will bring you LIVE gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Tex McIver murder trial. Check back each day for a live blog from the courtroom and daily video recaps. Visit myajc.com/crime/ for previous coverage of the case and a link to our Breakdown podcast.
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This is our live recounting of testimony occurring in the courtroom today:
Court is adjouned for the day and will resume at 9 a.m. with Dani Jo Carter back on the stand. The judge is raising the possibility that there could be a Saturday session of this trial in order to get through the lengthy testimony planned.
On the morning of Oct. 6, 2016, when Dani Jo Carter missed a scheduled deposition, Carter reported that Tex McIver tried to call her repeatedly. She didn’t talk to or see Tex McIver again until two weeks after the shooting. They spoke about Diane McIver’s will, executed in 2006 and Carter told him that Diane wouldn’t be very happy with it. Her godson wasn’t born in 2006, and others named in the will were no longer close with Diane. Tex McIver said they had made appointments to change the will, but that he had canceled the appointments.
She also told Tex McIver that the auction of Diane McIver’s items was a bad idea, coming so soon after her death. He replied that he was doing what his lawyers told him to do, and that it was necessary to pay for what was bequeathed in her will and without an auction he “might have to take a haircut.”
A couple of days after Diane McIver had died, Tex McIver asked Dani Jo Carter what she recalled of the night of the shooting. As she began to tell him, he got out a pad and began writing notes. She said she rebuked him for writing down her memories and left.
She later returned and took the paper where he had written what she said.
Carter later went to the office of McIver’s attorney, Stephen Maples, in Decatur. There, she gave him the paper she had taken from Tex McIver with her recollection of the shooting written out. While she did not discuss the facts of the shooting that day, later “there were lots of attempts” to get her to talk about the shooting.
While she initially told Tex McIver she would talk about it, in order to help, she never did it. “I had retained an attorney because the press was hounding me and calling me,” Carter said.
Dani Jo Carter is recounting that in the hours after her best friend Diane McIver died, she stayed with Janie Calhoun - a neighbor of the McIvers. In keeping with the earlier testimony of Calhoun, Carter admits she decided to have a drink. Carter said earlier she had not had a drink in about 10 years.
Diane McIver’s boss, Billy Corey, came to visit on Tuesday morning, Sept. 27, 2016. Sometime during that week, Carter realized Tex McIver was working to catalogue items belonging to his wife. That work led up to an auction of her belongings.
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Dani Jo Carter, Diane’s best friend, agreed to stay with Tex McIver after he returned home from the hospital where his wife had died overnight. He asked her help breaking the news to other people.
When Diane McIver’s boss, Billy Corey called, Tex told him there had been an accident and Diane was dead.
Dani Jo Carter recalls Tex asking her to listen to what he was saying on the phone. She also states that the two of them never discussed what had happened in the SUV to cause the gun to discharge.
Prosecutor Clint Rucker is now taking Dani Jo Carter through the wee hours of the following morning as she learned her best friend, Diane McIver had died. She estimates she spoke to detectives until 5 a.m. He provides records that show her phone received 5 calls from Tex McIver after she left Emory and until she returned to the hospital with her husband to pick him up.
Carter is recounting speaking to Atlanta police officers at the hospital. They took her in their car to retrace her route back to the point where the shooting occurred. They then carried her to police headquarters where the spoke to her more. While she was there, she got a text from her husband saying Diane McIver had died. This is the only point in her testimony where Carter has looked emotional.
As he was dialing his attorney moments after Diane McIver arrived at Emory Hospital emergency room, Dani Jo Carter said Tex McIver looked past her and said to her, “I don’t trust these guys. Dani Jo, I hate to see you get wrapped up in this. I’ve seen how these things can go down.”
“You just need to say you came down here as a friend of the family.”
Carter recalled answering him, “ ‘Tex, I just drove you into the emergency room.’ He looked at me and said, ‘Well, they don’t know that.’”
“That took my breath away,” Carter said. “I said, ‘I can’t lie.’”
Carter and the McIver’s pulled into the driveway of the Emory University Hospital around 10 p.m. the night of the shooting. Carter recalled once they had moved Diane McIver into the emergency room, Carter joined Tex McIver inside. Asked if she talked to Tex about why he directed her to Emory and not Grady Memorial Hospital, she said she did not.
As they were in a waiting room, McIver asked her to retrieve his phone from inside the SUV. Once she gave it to him, he began scrolling in his phone’s directory and said to Carter, “I know this doesn’t look good.” She said, “And I knew he was calling his attorney because that’s what attorneys do.” Judge McBurney instructed jurors to disregard her comment on what attorneys do don’t .
She said he was calling his attorney Stephen Maples.
Driver Dani Jo Carter has finished her narration of the events and the drive before and after the shooting took place inside the McIver’s SUV on the night of Sept. 25, 2016. Her testimony was that the SUV was at a stop when the gun went off, contradicting statements by Tex McIver that the vehicle hit a bump before the gun fired. She also confirmed that no one called 911 after Diane McIver realized she had been struck. Carter estimated the time it took to drive to the hospital emergency room was 15 to 20 minutes.
In the moments after the shooting, Tex McIver was “contained” and not hysterical, Carter testified. As she drove the SUV, Carter said she was running red lights, but she was not being reckless. “I wanted to get there as quickly as we could and as safely as we could.”
Asked why she didn’t cut through the Prado neighborhood to get to Piedmont Hospital, Carter said she has been lost in there before.
In the passenger seat next to Carter, Diane McIver seemed to breathe heavily, her breath “made horrible noises” and she lost consciousness at some point in the minutes they drove toward Emory University Hospital. Tex McIver continued to hold her head. Carter did not recall him trying to stop her from bleeding.
At one point Tex McIver said, ‘She’s still breathing.’ He told me I needed to be careful; that there might be people out there walking with baby carriages.” Carter did not slow down, she said, estimating her speed on Morningside Drive as 45-50 mph. I told him, “I’ve got this, not now.”
Following the shooting, Carter said Tex McIver leaned forward and held his wife’s head in both his hands and was calling her name.
Carter said she didn’t call 911 because her phone was in the backseat and Diane McIver’s phone was in the floorboard. Tex McIver’s phone was in the backseat near him, but he didn’t call 911.
Driver Dani Jo Carter is telling the courtroom she did not recall hitting a bump in the SUV as they neared Piedmont Park, although that is what Tex McIver has stated caused him to pull the trigger accidentally.
“I heard a big boom. And I didn’t know what it was. I thought there was an explosion somewhere. ... I did not realize it was a gunshot right away,”
Diane turned around to look in the seat behind her and said “Tex, what did you do?” Carter said he replied “The gun discharged.” Carter looked into the backseat also and saw Tex McIver’s hands and part of the gun.
She then looked straight ahead “because I wanted to get home and get out of that car. I thought there was a bullet hole in the bottom of the car because the gun was pointed down when I saw it.”
Rucker asks Carter what she expected Diane to do. “I expected her to light into him,” she said. But Diane did not. Carter recalled Diane sat straight up in her seat. “She said, “Tex, you shot me.”
Dani Jo Carter is asked to sit in the recreated SUV interior that has been brought into the courtroom. Two other attorneys occupy the passenger front seat and the rear seat behind the passenger. Carter recalls when Tex McIver asked for the gun, Diane McIver opened the console between the seats. The women didn’t recognize the gun until he said the gun was in a plastic grocery bag. Diane McIver handed the gun back to him.
The gun recovered that night, a silver .38 revolver with a black plastic handle, is produced in the courtroom by prosecuting attorney Rucker. Carter said she had seen the gun before.
Carter said she is familiar with guns and has been trained to handle them and has routinely shot for sport. She testifies she had seen that gun before the night of the shooting.
Driver for the McIvers on the night of the shooting, Dani Jo Carter, is illustrating for the jury the route taken on the night of the shooting from the time they left I-85 near Edgewood Avenue and drove toward Buckhead. Largely unfamiliar with the route she took out Piedmont Avenue, she recalls some landmarks. She and Diane McIver were making small talk as she drove. Tex McIver is in the back seat. At Piedmont Ave. Northeast and 12th St. Northeast had a traffic signal, but she can’t recall if she stopped at a traffic light there when the gun went off.
Dani Jo Carter points out a turn they made at the corner of Edgewood Avenue and Piedmont Ave. Northeast. They passed a group of people sitting on the sidewalk with cardboard boxes nearby. She said it looked like a social gathering of some sort. They continued down Piedmont Avenue. Asked if there were any crowds that appear to be threatening, she said no. Asked if she knew where the gun was at this point, she said she did not.
Dani Jo Carter is pointing to an ariel view of the exit at Edgewood Avenue off of I-85 that they took that night. Carter recounts, as they traveled down the street, Tex McIver asked his wife, in the front passenger seat, “Darlin’ would you hand me my gun?” She said Diane handed him the gun.
Rucker points out a large billboard over the street that shows an image of a man with the words “I wouldn’t be here without Grady.” The prosecution is again trying to illustrate that Grady Hospital, a trauma hospital, would’ve been a better place to take Diane McIver that night for treatment.
Testimony from the McIvers’ driver on the night of the shooting, Dani Jo Carter, is resuming. Prosecuting attorney Clint Rucker has told Judge Robert McBurney that he intends to show the actual gun used in the shooting and that it has been made safe for handling.
In front of the witness stand is a recreated interior of the SUV the McIvers and Carter were riding in. It is not precisely to scale.
The jury has taken a break for lunch and Carter has left the stand.
Meanwhile, Joel Wade is testifying in a hearing before the judge about how created a reconstruction of the interior the McIvers’ Ford Expedition to be used as a visual aid during Carter’s testimony.
Carter says she was driving as the McIvers SUV pulled into Atlanta. They encountered traffic on the Downtown Connector and Carter wanted to get off the interstate to avoid it. Diane McIver told Carter to get off at the exit for Edgewood-Auburn Ave. and she did.
As they were exiting, Tex McIver chimed in from the backseat.
“Girls, I wish you wouldn’t have done this. This is a really bad area,” Tex McIver said. “I wish you had stayed on 85.”
We have now reached the day of the shooting.
Carter says that Tex and Diane McIver played golf that Sunday afternoon while Carter stayed at the ranch to ride horses.
When Tex and Diane McIver returned to the ranch they piled into the Ford Expedition to go back to Atlanta.
First, they stopped at Longhorn Steakhouse for dinner. On the way there, Tex and Diane McIver shared a glass of red wine in the car — a “roadie”— that had been in a Yeti cooler in the SUV. When they arrived at Longhorn’s Tex and Diane McIver had a glass of wine at the bar. They then split a bottle of wine at dinner, although Carter said Tex McIver left a full glass of wine on the table when they left.
“We got in the car and hit (Route) 20 back to Atlanta,” Carter said.
PREVIOUSLY: Tex McIver charged with wife’s murder
Carter described life at the McIvers’ ranch as idyllic, a place where you could relax, ride horses and shoot guns. She said she’d been to the Putnam County ranch at least 100 times.
Rucker, the prosecutor, is now taking Carter through the days leading up to the shooting. Typically when Carter visited the ranch she said she drove separately but on Sept. 23, 2016 she drove with the McIvers because her husband was out of town at a football game. Because Diane and Tex McIver had some wine at Diane’s workplace, Carter drove to the ranch that Friday.
Carter says she and Diane were close except for a period of time where Carter says she developed a problem with alcohol.
“She distanced herself from me,” Carter said. They re-established a connection after Carter said she got sober.
“She was a lot of fun,” Carter said of Diane McIver. “She was intense. She played hard. She could be difficult because she was very pragmatic about appointments, times, things that you did, how you were eating.”
Carter is describing how she met Diane McIver more than four decades ago when she cut her hair. Diane McIver became a regular customer and Carter said the two spent three or four hours together every week and developed a close friendship.
“We were both a little estranged from our families and we became almost like sisters,” Carter said.
“Did you love Diane?” Rucker asked.
“Like a sister,” Carter replied.
Craig Stringer’s testimony has concluded and Patricia “Dani Jo” Carter is on the stand. She was driving the McIvers the night of the shooting and her testimony has been highly anticipated.
Stringer testifies that, from what he witnessed over the years, Tex and Diane McIver were very much in love. He says Tex McIver never became angry in his presence and there were no signs of tension between the couple at dinner the night of the shooting.
Defense attorney Don Samuel is questioning Stringer aggressively saying the witness didn’t “tell the whole truth” to the grand jury because he never told them about the call in which McIver blamed Diane McIver’s death on an accident on Hill Street. Stringer says he simply answered the questions the grand jury asked him.
Samuel’s questioning makes clear that this is the first time Stringer has mentioned this potentially explosive phone call.
Under questioning from prosecutor Clint Rucker, Stringer said he learned about Diane McIver’s death when he arrived at work the next morning.
“Tex, what the hell happened?” Stringer asked when he reached his friend on the phone moments later.
Tex McIver replied that Diane McIver and her friend, Dani Jo Carter, were on Hill Street and had been in a car accident. Diane McIver hadn’t survived, he said.
Rucker says that it differs from what Stringer told the grand jury. Stringer replies that he never volunteered the story before because he thought it was hearsay.
Rucker seems surprised by at least part of what Stringer is saying on the stand but it’s unclear what portion.
Craig Stringer says that soon after his call with Tex McIver he learned from his boss, Billy Corey, that Diane McIver had been shot in the back by her husband. Stringer called Tex back to ask about why he had lied.
“I didn’t want to tell you all this to get you involved in it with the police and whatever,” Tex McIver replied, according to Stringer.
Stringer was clearly upset by Diane’s death.
“How would you feel if your best friend of 17 years got shot in the back?” he said.
But the falsehood apparently didn’t do permanent damage to Stringer’s relationship with Tex McIver. They’ve played golf at least twice since the shooting, he said.
Jurors have been led into the courtroom and Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney has called the today’s session to order.
Craig Stringer, a friend of the McIvers who worked with Diane at Corey Enterprises, is first on the witness stand. He is testifying about playing golf at Reynolds Plantation with the couple and then joining them for dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse in Conyers in the hours before the shooting.
We’ve learned that Diane preferred red wine and was a good golfer, playing with an eight handicap.
“She was a robot,” he said of Diane.
When did you last See Diane McIver?” prosecutor Clint Rucker asked.
“Sept. 25, 9:30, a hug and kiss and then goodnight,” Stringer replied.
Georgia is irresistible to true-crime podcasts: From “Up and Vanished” to “Atlanta Monster” to the AJC’s Breakdown on the Tex McIver murder case, see a list of Georgia crime cases you can listen to.
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