Witness: Tex McIver preoccupied with money following wife’s death

Money, prosecutors allege, drove Claud "Tex" McIver to fatally shoot his wife in the back. While the evidence on the alleged motive has been hit and miss, a state witness on Friday testified the 75-year-old attorney was clearly preoccupied with his financial future in the days after Diane McIver's death.

Jay Grover, a longtime friend and colleague of the 64-year-old businesswoman, offered some of the most damning testimony yet against Tex McIver, undercutting the defendant on several fronts and raising new questions about his account of what happened in the couple's SUV on September 25, 2016. McIver, who was sitting in the back seat, told police he fell asleep and the gun went off after Dani Jo Carter, who was driving the Ford Expedition, came to a stop near Piedmont Park.

Friday was the most effective of the nine days of testimony offered by the prosecution. Though proof of a financial motive remains elusive, the prosecution was able to show Tex seemed preoccupied with money in the days and weeks after his wife’s death. They also presented the clearest evidence yet of McIver’s shifting narratives about what happened the night he shot Diane in their SUV.

Grover said he was taken aback when McIver, less than 48 hours after the shooting, told him, “Jay can you believe they want to charge me with reckless conduct for this thing?”

“I was actually shocked that would be the first thing out of his mouth,” said Grover, a former cop who told McIver he believed there were “some elements of a crime here.”

That same night, McIver asked Grover if he “knew anything about Social Security,” wondering if he could collect his dead wife’s benefits, Grover testified. Later that day, Grover said McIver was seeking assistance in a bid to obtain a seat on the board of directors at an Oklahoma-based tobacco company, a gig that would earn him six figures annually.

Later that week, Grover testified, McIver told him his lawyers were worried about an article that appeared in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In it, McIver’s then-spokesman, Bill Crane, said Tex retrieved his gun from the SUV’s center console because he was”alarmed about recent unrest surrounding several Black Lives Matter protests in the area and (feared) a carjacking.” The gun went off after the SUV, driven by Carter, “hit a bump,” Crane told the AJC.

RELATED: Read the AJC article that so concerned Tex’s lawyers

But McIver never mentioned a bump, or Black Lives Matter, when he talked to police two days before Crane’s interview with the paper.

Tex’s former attorney, Steve Maples, subsequently downplayed Crane’s account, saying that while some individuals were in the street, there was no immediate threat and the gun was taken out as a precaution. But Grover testified that McIver said he had vetted the article with Crane.

“I don’t know what they’re so upset about,” he said, according to Grover.

RELATED: Attorney walks back comments from Tex spokesman

Perhaps the most salacious part of Grover’s testimony centered around a woman that’s been alluded to often by the state — Tex and Diane’s masseuse, Annie Anderson. Earlier this week, 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.

One week after Diane McIver’s death, Grover said he traveled to the McIvers’ Putnam County ranch to get Tex’s signature on some documents. Anderson was there with him, wearing rain boots that Grover had given to Diane as a Christmas gift.

Defense co-counsel Amanda Clark Palmer noted in her cross-examination that Anderson was a friend to both Tex and Diane and had even traveled with the couple to destinations including South Africa.

While Tex was, according to witnesses, concerned about finances and the police investigation, collecting his wife’s remains did not appear to be a priority.

Wendy Eidson, a licensed embalmer and funeral director who handled Diane McIver’s cremation, testified that Tex waited more than a month before paying the roughly $1,600 due for her services. The check was written on a bank account set up for his late wife’s estate. Eidson said she returned his check and informed him that a friend of Diane’s who wanted to remain anonymous had already paid the bill.

That friend, Catherine Johansen also testified. She described herself as an estranged friend of Diane McIver, but as a neighbor of the McIvers she said they were still cordial. “I just wanted her out of there,” Johansen said.

Tex McIver finally picked up his wife’s remains on November 8, 2016, Eidson testified.