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 Wednesday, March 28:
Court will resume slightly later on Thursday, starting at 9:30 a.m.
The 12th day of testimony in the Tex McIver murder trial is ending with another brief video clip of McIver being interviewed, this time by Channel 2 Action News reporter Mark Winne in April 2017. He appears to be wearing jail clothes.
McIver: “Guns are not my thing... She was very successful in her own right, but I was more.”
This video and the one shown earlier from Fox 5 News will both be entered as evidence.
Harvey said a .38 Airweight is a classic small gun that people keep for self-protection. “It’s light. It can go into a pocketbook for example, into a glovebox for example ...”
Salter said he carries a Glock .40 caliber handgun.
Harvey: You have a license for that?
Salter: I have a badge for it.
Harvey ends by asking Salter about the thoroughness of his search of the McIver condo for a missing will. He ends emphatically: “There was no will.”
Defense attorney Bruce Harvey points out there is no limit on the number of guns a person can own. He is questioning Salter about paperwork requirements for purchasing a gun, which leaves a records trail that could be traced.
“Were you asked by anybody ... to make any requests with regards to the long guns or the revolvers?” Salter said he did not trace any of the guns belonging to McIver to learn who had purchased them or where.
Defense attorney Bruce Harvey is objecting to the display of guns in the courtroom. Judge Robert McBurney replies, “I think it’s particularly relevant.”
Prosecuting attorney Clint Rucker is questioning Salter on the guns. Putnam County provided 40 weapons and more were provided by the law firm representing McIver.
Salter is describing the make and model of four .38 caliber revolvers. Three of them are Smith and Wesson Airweights. A .38 caliber handgun was earlier identified as the weapon McIver shot his wife with.
The long guns are now being packed up and removed from the courtroom.
The court is on a break while an array of guns are being brought into the courtroom. Handguns, rifles and shotguns, some camo-colored are among them. Tex McIver is watching from the defense table. Salter testified he logged guns into the evidence room, including guns provided from the Putnam County Sheriff’s Office and from the law firm representing Tex McIver.
The jury has just seen a snippet of video taken by Fox 5 Atlanta that shows Tex McIver speaking: “I am worth 2 ½ times what her estate is worth.”
The video was recorded on April 28, 2017. No other explanation is given.
Brian Salters, a criminal investigator with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, is taking the stand. He is recounting looking through the entire condo for Diane McIver’s will.
A witness who appeared yesterday is being recalled. Kenneth Rickert, the in-house counsel for Corey Enterprises, is taking the stand.
Rucker is asking about DRS, co-owned by Diane McIver and another person. McIver owed DRS $975,000 and that claim was satisfied, Rickert testifies. He adds that half of the $1 million life insurance policy on Diane McIver was used to satisfy that debt. The remaining portion of her life insurance went to the other owner of DRS. Asked by Rucker if there are any further claims against the estate of Diane McIver by DRS, Rickert says no, it has been paid.
Defense attorney Clark Palmer points out that estate satisfied that remaining debt of $475,000 by providing billboards and property from Clay Management, another company owned by Diane McIver. Clay Management became a part of Diane McIver’s estate after her death. It did not pass to Tex McIver.
The first witness of the day is finished. Next witness is Victor Bayne, owner of Bayne’s Army store in downtown Milledgeville, which sells sporting and hunting goods. Tex McIver was a customer for several years, and Bayne also met Diane McIver and Austin Schwall. He estimates over the years McIver has purchased 12 to 18 guns. This is the fastest witness to date as he is already dismissed.
Prosecuting attorney Clint Rucker brings up Diane McIver’s life insurance policy worth $1 million. Earlier testimony has indicated after her death, that insurance went to pay a debt owed by a company, DRS Investments, that she held as a 50/50 partnership with another individiual. Rucker points out that after her portion of that debt would’ve been $487,000.
Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer is resuming her cross-examination of accountant Dean Driskell, referencing a series of emails between Diane and Tex McIver in 2016 (see the 11:10 a.m. entry below) concerning cash problems and makes the point that he had assets he could’ve liquidated to solve a cash flow problem.
“One of the sources of cash he was relying on was his wife,” Clark Palmer said. “His cash flow problems were greater after she died because he no longer had that cash coming in, right?”
She is challenging Driskell’s earlier assertion that Diane McIver’s estate account became part of Tex McIver’s assets.
1:33 p.m. Jury is dismissed for lunch, to return at 2:10 p.m.
After a protracted cross-examination featuring long silent pauses, an impatient-sounding Judge McBurney announces it’s time to break for lunch.
Amanda Clark Palmer’s cross examination of accountant Driskell is continuing well past the usual lunch break time with questions about the source and rounding of numbers provided to the jury on Diane McIver’s net worth. Driskell agrees he doesn’t know some of the assumptions that went into the numbers.
She has been trying to make the point that Diane McIver’s estate value could be different from her net worth.
Clark Palmer is hitting a brick wall on getting explanations from Driskell about the accounts and the control Tex McIver exerted over them.
She is exploring McIver’s minority shares in Arcilla Mining & Land Co. and Arcilla Trucking, valued in December 2016 at $1.5 million to $2 million.
Clark Palmer isn’t disputing that Tex McIver’ income was shrinking. She acknowledged that his law firm salary was going down and his status there was changing. Clark Palmer is stressing the fact that McIver relied on cash from his wife.
“Without the money he gets from his wife he’s going to have negative cash on hand right?” Clark Palmer asked.
“Correct,” Driskell replied.
“When Diane dies, that source of income from Diane to Tex McIver stops,” she said.
Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer is now cross examining Driskell. She started out by reminding him that he hadn’t returned her phone calls in advance of the trial. He apologized and said he’d been working and not avoiding her on purpose.
Tex McIver bemoaned his finances in an email to his wife on June 15, 2016, a few months before she was shot.
“I am seriously trying to reduce my monthly expenses,” he wrote. “Debt is my biggest obstacle right now. Plan on hitting the Lotto sometime this week.”
Diane McIver replied with a reference to the caretaker at their ranch:
“Make sure you read Javier’s job description. That is your next life chapter. Save you moola. You will be standing there in the door with your hand out when I get home every Friday.”
“Back to gigoloing,” Tex McIver shot back.
Tex McIver’s net worth more than tripled after he shot his wife.
Driskell testified that Tex McIver was worth about $1.7 million on the day of his wife’s death. His inheritance from Diane was worth between $3.6 and $4.6 million.
Jurors are also getting a peek at the McIvers’ wealth.
Driskell is displaying a balance sheet that says Diane McIver’s extensive jewelry collection was worth at least $150,000 and she had a life insurance policy valued at $400,000.
As Tex McIver’s income dried up, he continued to spend.
“There was more money going out then he had coming in,” Driskell said.
For the first nine months of 2016, he spent $63,375 more than he brought in. From 2013 to 2016 that negative balance was more that $245,000.
McIver was filling the gap with money from his wife, Driskell said.
At the same time, he was paying her tens of thousands dollars a year to stay current on a $350,000 interest only loan she had made to him.
Prosecutor Clint Rucker asked Driskell to characterize Tex McIver’s money situation.
“He was cash poor on her date of death,” Driskell said.
Driskell painted a grim portrait of Tex McIver’s finances.
McIver’s income had “significantly deteriorated” from 2013 to 2016, Driskell said. That was when McIver lost his post as an equity partner at his law firm, Fisher Phillips.
His net income from the firm plummeted by “more than half” during that period, Driskell said.
McIver was experiencing “financial stress” in the period leading up to Diane McIver’s shooting, Driskell said.
Testimony has begun in Day 12 of the trial.
First up for the state is Dean Driskell, an accountant and finance professor at Georgia State University. Driskell was asked by the prosecution to assess Tex McIver’s financial picture on the day of the shooting.
Before the jury entered the courtroom, Judge Robert McBurney ruled that the state could reference the amount of Diane McIver’s life insurance policy as part of evidence showing Tex McIver’s financial health. But McBurney warned that if prosecutors try to make the case that Tex McIver killed his wife to inherit that money he “would expect a motion for the mistrial” from the defense. “And we will see where that goes,” McBurney said.
Did Dani Jo Carter’s testimony help or hurt Tex McIver? After more than two full days of testimony from Carter last week -- the sole witness to the McIver shooting -- our criminal justice reporter Bill Rankin takes a close look in episode 7 in his podcast, “Breakdown: The McIver Murder Case.”
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