Tex McIver denied bond ahead of 2nd murder trial

Judge calls McIver a ‘flight risk’
Tex McIver was denied bond at his Fulton County hearing on Friday, October 7, 2022. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

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Tex McIver was denied bond at his Fulton County hearing on Friday, October 7, 2022. (Natrice Miller/natrice.miller@ajc.com)

Credit: Natrice Miller/AJC

Facing a murder trial for the second time in his wife’s 2016 shooting, Claud “Tex” McIver was denied bond Friday by a Fulton County judge who expressed concerns that McIver was a flight risk.

The 79-year-old former Atlanta attorney, who’s been in custody since 2018, had his murder conviction overturned in June by the Georgia Supreme Court. Clad in a blue Fulton County jumpsuit with his hands cuffed in front of him, McIver returned to Judge Robert McBurney’s courtroom and took a seat alongside his attorneys.

McIver’s murder conviction was overturned on grounds jurors should have been allowed to consider convicting him of a lesser manslaughter charge in the deadly shooting of his wife Diane, 64.

At his trial, McIver was convicted of influencing a witness and sentenced to five years in prison for that offense. He completed that sentence last month and has since been in jail hoping to get bond.

“He’s now serving time for nothing he’s been convicted of,” defense attorney Don Samuel told McBurney before requesting a $220,000 bond.

McIver’s attorneys asked that the judge allow their client to live with his sister, Dixie Martin, at her home north of Dallas, Texas, while he awaits a second trial. McIver sold his Atlanta condo and no longer has family in the area, they said, offering to have their client fitted for an ankle monitor while living in his sister’s home.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Prosecutor Adam Abbate, however, told McBurney that McIver is not in the same position he was when he was previously granted bond.

“He’s older. He’s 80 years old,” Abbate said. “After being convicted of murder he’s less likely to return to court because he has less to lose.”

The state called four witnesses at the bond hearing, including Diane McIver’s former boss and Dani Jo Carter, the woman driving the McIvers’ SUV when the fatal shot was fired through the front passenger seat. All four asked the judge to keep McIver behind bars, saying they believed Diane McIver’s killing was deliberate and that her husband would run if given the chance.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

“He had no respect for the conditions of his bond the first time,” Carter said, referring McIver’s “bizarre” behavior in the weeks after killing his wife. She also noted he violated his bond conditions the first time around by having a gun inside his Buckhead condo.

After his wife’s death, Tex McIver visited Carter at her hair salon and began sending her messages online, she told the judge.

The McIvers were seen as a well-to-do power couple. He was a labor lawyer with deep ties to the state Republican Party. She was an executive at U.S. Enterprises and worked for years for influential businessman Billy Corey.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Corey was among those who spoke at Friday’s bond hearing, telling the judge he never believed Diane McIver’s shooting was accidental and that he was shocked by the state Supreme Court’s reversal earlier this year.

“I remain steadfast in the belief that Diane’s death was an intentional act predicated by Tex McIver,” Corey said. “It is my firm belief that the Fulton County jury that heard the McIver case was correct in its unanimous decision.”

McBurney ultimately sided with the state in denying bond, calling McIver, “a man of means” who has already been convicted of murder once and sentenced to life in prison.

“I have before me a man who has heard a jury say you are guilty of felony murder and will spend the rest of your natural life in prison,” McBurney said. “That is a powerful incentive for you, Mr. McIver, not to come back to court and face some of the same evidence.”

Fulton County prosecutors plan to retry McIver on three charges: felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.

Diane McIver was killed Sept. 25, 2016, near Piedmont Park as the couple returned to Atlanta from their Putnam County ranch. After they entered the city, McIver asked for his .38-caliber revolver from the center console because he thought they had driven upon a Black Lives Matter protest, according to testimony.

Tex McIver, with the gun in a plastic bag on his lap, was sitting in the back seat behind his wife. Carter, her best friend, was driving the Ford Expedition.

After they stopped at a traffic light on Piedmont Avenue, Tex McIver, who had fallen asleep, fired a shot through the front seat into his wife’s back. He directed Carter to take his wife to Emory University Hospital, where she died during surgery.

The judge’s decision to deny bond came as a relief to Diane McIver’s supporters, many of whom had also grown close to her husband over the years. Outside the courthouse, they said they didn’t want to believe the shooting was intentional at first, but simply couldn’t get past the “overwhelming evidence” that later emerged.

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

Credit: Natrice Miller / Natrice.Miller@ajc.com

The Georgia Supreme Court did not see the evidence that way. In his 97-page opinion overturning the murder conviction, Chief Justice Michael Boggs found the state’s evidence against McIver to be “thin” and “weak.”

Before denying bond, McBurney was critical of the state Supreme Court’s decision but said he had to accept it.

“They ruled what they ruled,” McBurney said, adding that he had followed “fairly clear-cut Supreme Court precedents at trial. He also noted that McIver’s jury “rejected the medium level of culpability and concluded that the shooting was not an accident after hearing evidence and argument from the best lawyers in Georgia.”

Given McIver’s age, McBurney said the former attorney wouldn’t “have to be a fugitive for very long to enjoy the rest of your life a free man.”

“That worries me,” the judge told him. “I am concerned about your willingness to return to court for your trial.”

McBurney also said depending on how long it takes prosecutors to retry the case, he’s willing to revisit his bond decision.

A new trial date has yet to be set. McIver’s attorneys said they are prepared to defend their client in a second high-profile murder trial.

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