Question of motive will be key in McIver murder trial


The central question in the case of Claud “Tex” McIver —accident or murder — is straightforward enough, but in answering it jurors will have to wade through a case rife with contradictions, insinuations and little certitude.

In essence, the state will argue that McIver engineered a Machiavellian murder plot, fatally shooting his wife in front of their best friend, but was undone by a series of monumental blunders.

Until now, his reason for doing so has been unclear. Friends of Tex and Dianne say theirs was a storybook marriage. So far no one has come forward with accusations of infidelity or spousal abuse.

Stay with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution for every twist and turn in the Tex McIver murder trial. We’ll provide minute-by-minute courtroom action as well as in-depth legal analysis of what it all means. Find links to our daily coverage, the “Breakdown” podcast, and previous stories at our website, myajc.com/crime

“He absolutely worships her,” Dani Jo Carter, who was driving the couple’s Ford Expedition when the shooting occurred, told police. “Absolutely. They’re like, I get jealous sometimes because they were more like lovebirds than my husband and I.”

But at a hearing Wednesday, five days before McIver’s trial begins, prosecutors made it clear why they think the attorney, now 75 years old, murdered his 64-year-old wife. And while demonstrating a motive isn’t legally required, it may be crucial to win over a jury in this case.

“They don’t have to prove any motive, but they’re going to have a hard time convicting him of murder unless they can show he was driven by money,” said Dunwoody attorney Esther Panitch, who has been following the McIver saga closely.

According to the state, Diane McIver, a wealthy business executive, had a second will that would’ve transferred ownership of the couple’s Putnam County ranch to their godson. That decision, according to prosecutors, stemmed from a $350,000 loan from Diane that Tex had yet to repay.

“Our position is there was a new will and that it has been secreted from the state,” lead prosecutor Clint Rucker said Wednesday. “Much of our investigation has been a pursuit to locate it.”

But they have yet to do so. Instead the state will rely on witnesses who say she discussed it and emails that infer one existed.

KEY PLAYERS: Here are the main figures in the Tex McIver murder trial

TIMELINE: Events in the Tex McIver saga

The defense has a simple counter: If Tex was motivated by money, why would he kill his wife, who earned more than twice what he did?

“There is no substantive reason, there is no factual reason, there is no emotional reason, there is no reason at all that this should be elevated from anything other than an accidental unintentional act to an intentional act,” said McIver co-counsel Bruce Harvey. “There’s not one single fact, not one single fact in this case that would justify that.”

That remains to be seen. Fortunately for the state, McIver has been his own worst enemy.

Prosecutors say they will present evidence McIver offered a bribe to make the case against him go away. They’ll tell jurors how he tried to convince Dani Jo Carter to say she wasn’t in the car when the shooting occurred. And that wasn’t the only evidence he allegedly attempted to manipulate.

His spokesman, Bill Crane, said McIver told him he armed himself in the car because he thought he saw Black Lives Matter protesters nearby. When that backfired, McIver asked Crane to retract the statement.

Then there was his decision to sell off his late wife’s wardrobe and jewelry. McIver said that he was ordered to do so to satisfy bequests from Diane’s will, but, according to Rucker, no one has seen a dime even though “hundreds of thousands of dollars were collected.”

All of this reflects badly on Tex McIver, and, in a murder trial, character counts plenty. Evidence of infidelities and serial sexting, relevant or not, played a major role in the 2016 conviction of Justin Ross Harris, accused of intentionally leaving his 22-month-old son inside a hot car to die.

Will it be enough this time?

“Depends on how much the judge allows,” said Carlos Rodriguez, one of Harris’ attorneys. In that case, the judge gave the prosecution wide sway on what was admissible.

On Wednesday, Judge Robert McBurney reversed an earlier decision to allow evidence about a 1990 shooting incident when McIver allegedly opened fire on a carload of three young men, then lied to the police about it.

So that’s one victory for the defense. But this game is just getting started.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Widow of man shot outside Gwinnett Walmart files civil lawsuit
Widow of man shot outside Gwinnett Walmart files civil lawsuit

The widow of the man killed during an altercation outside a Gwinnett County Walmart has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the retailer and the alleged shooter.  The civil suit — filed last week in Gwinnett County State Court on behalf Bahra Delkic, the wife of slain shopper Fadil Delkic — accuses Walmart of not doing enough...
Cops: Gwinnett man threatens 3 with gun for trying to take away PS4
Cops: Gwinnett man threatens 3 with gun for trying to take away PS4

A Lawrenceville man has been charged with 11 felonies after allegedly threatening three people with a gun after they tried to take a PlayStation 4 console he was using, a Gwinnett County police report says. Gerryon Ly’Darrius Ceasor, 20, is facing charges including aggravated assault, terroristic threats and acts and theft. READ | Cops: Woman...
Money.com: Alpharetta is one of ‘the best places to live in America’
Money.com: Alpharetta is one of ‘the best places to live in America’

A city in north Fulton County is one of the best places to live in America, according to a recent study by Time Magazine’s Money.com. Alpharetta checks in at No. 24 on the recently published list. It is the highest ranked Georgia city and just one of two in the top 50. The other is Smyrna, checking in at No. 44. To create the list, Money.com...
900 condos planned for Park at Perimeter Center East in Dunwoody
900 condos planned for Park at Perimeter Center East in Dunwoody

A new mixed-use development would bring 900 condominiums to Dunwoody if the City Council approves the necessary rezoning. The Park at Perimeter Center East would also include 500,000 square feet in new office space, 12,000 square feet of retail, green space and mixed-use paths. That would be in addition to 285,000 square feet of offices in three buildings...
MARTA admits open meetings error
MARTA admits open meetings error

MARTA has admitted it erred when its Board of Directors granted ethics waivers to two former employees without public notice this summer. On June 22, the board voted to waive ethics rules to allow two former employees to take jobs with MARTA contractors within a year of leaving the agency. Those waivers did not appear on the board’s agenda in...
More Stories