» McIver said it was an accident. Jurors didn't buy it.
“From the beginning, I thought this was an involuntary case based on reckless conduct,” said Atlanta defense attorney Noah Pines, who was not involved in the trial. “While I thought the defense did a masterful job in closing argument, one of the things that concerned me was that they asked the jury not to consider the lesser-included offense of involuntary manslaughter. So this is really an all-or-nothing. It’s either murder and he’s guilty, or an accident and he’s not guilty.”
Pines added: “There’s always a danger when you ask a jury for an all or nothing.”
Most of Episode 11 of “Breakdown,” however, is devoted to the closing arguments — there were four — presented in the case. Lead prosecutor Clint Rucker spoke for 95 minutes, using his extraordinary voice and often soaring oratory to weave a convincing tapestry of greed, betrayal and murder. But many of the threads in Rucker’s tapestry were thin. He sometimes spoke of things that either never occurred or, at best, were not proved in court. The podcast offers several examples of this. Here’s one:
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Rucker makes much of McIver’s attempt to get a friend to take Dani Jo Carter home on the Friday before the killing. Rucker theorizes this was because McIver didn’t want Carter to be present that weekend to witness what he planned to do.
“If he took Dani Jo home he’d be alone on the ranch with Diane McIver,” Rucker said. “They talked about, why didn’t he kill her at the ranch? Why didn’t he kill her on I-20? Maybe that was the original plan. She’d have an accident on the ranch. He says, ‘You know what? Maybe I’ll have to go to a Plan B.’”
This is a compelling story, but little of it was supported by evidence or testimony. Rucker surmised that McIver meant to kill his wife at the ranch. And he surmised that McIver came up with an alternate plan because Dani Jo Carter was there. Of course, Dani Jo Carter was present when McIver shot his wife — in the couple's SUV on Piedmont Avenue late on that Sunday night.
“Breakdown” is available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. Or you can stream it from ajc.com, right here, right now: