A Fulton County judge has removed Claud “Tex” McIver as executor over the estate of his late wife after prosecutors argued he likely murdered the Atlanta businesswoman for personal gain.
The Fulton County District Attorney’s office has charged McIver with malice murder in the shooting death of Diane McIver and petitioned the court to strip him of control of her money and assets. In a filing, the DA’s office said it believes Diane McIver had a second will and that the contents likely speak to his motive for killing her.
McIver’s lawyers have flatly denied that.
“There is no second will,” Stephen Maples said. “There are no flying saucers and Bigfoot does not exist.”
But prosecutors say the couple’s finances are a critical part of their case.
“It’s part and parcel of what we believe is the motivation in this case,” Senior Assistant District Attorney Clint Rucker said during a recent hearing regarding the estate. Referring to McIver and others handling the estate, he added, “We don’t believe they’re acting in the best interest of the estate.”
Probate Court Judge Pinkie Toomer granted the DA’s motion to remove McIver as executor.
Diane McIver had served as president of Corey Airport Services. The fate of her substantial estate has become a high-stakes drama tied closely to the criminal case. While it’s unclear what impact his removal as executor might play in the murder case, it could mark another blow against McIver in the court of public opinion.
Tex McIver shot his wife in the back as the couple rode in their SUV near Piedmont Park on Sept. 25. He was in the back seat and she in the front when, according to McIver, he accidentally pulled the trigger on his .38-caliber revolver.
A grand jury last month elevated the police charges against him to include malice murder, felony murder and three counts of tampering with witnesses.
The case — involving a high-powered Atlanta couple — has attracted widespread attention. And Tex McIver’s conduct has come under intense scrutiny that has sometimes painted an unflattering portrait of the politically-connected attorney.
TIMELINE: Events in the Tex McIver case
Last month, authorities discovered a Glock pistol in his Buckhead condo, which led to his bond being revoked. There were inconsistencies in McIver’s story of what happened on the day of the shooting. It emerged that he owed his wife money when he shot her.
And McIver has also faced criticism as executor for selling thousands of items from his wife’s collection of furs, jewelry and possessions in a series of auctions. His attorneys said the money would be used to help cover $350,000 she left to others in her will, including her longtime housekeeper.
The DA’s office and McIver’s attorney in the probate case, Kirk Watkins, both declined to comment.
As executor, McIver had power to carry out the wishes expressed in Diane McIver’s will, distributing assets and paying any debts. McIver will now serve as “temporary administrator” over the estate, a position that allows him to only gather information on assets and creditors, until a new executor is appointed.
The judge’s order to remove McIver as executor was not available for public viewing since documents in the probate case have been sealed. The judge’s order sealing the documents pointed to “information that is confidential in nature and sensitive” and “based on a Fulton County district attorney investigation.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News have filed a joint motion to make the probate case documents open to the public, asserting that the McIvers were prominent members of the community and that the events have “undeniable public interest.”
McIver’s role in his wife’s estate was noted during a recent hearing in Fulton County Superior Court. That hearing addressed a potential settlement on a $970,000 claim against her estate by Billy Corey, her former employer.
Judge John Goger determined the parties could not settle the matter until the estate named a new executor, a decision Watkins told the judge is needed by May 15th or the settlement offer will be withdrawn.