One of jurors in the Tex McIver case discussed the logic behind the guilty verdict in an interview with the Law&Crime Network.
As was immediately apparent on Monday, when jurors convicted Tex in the death of his wife Diane McIver, it actually wasn’t under the prosecution’s logic. The state argued the killing, which happened in September 2016 in Atlanta, Georgia, was intentional. The state said the defendant wanted his CEO wife dead in order to get his hands on her life insurance and her property. Nonetheless, jurors didn’t convict Tex McIver of malice murder. Malice murder is an intentional killing. Rather, jurors convicted Tex McIver of felony murder on an underlying charge of aggravated assault. Legally, as we have pointed out, jurors apparently decided that McIver shot his wife with the intent to violently injure her, but not to kill her, and that she died accidentally because of the violent injuries. Prosecutors didn’t make this argument, so why reach this verdict?
Juror 61, Lakeisha Boyd, explained the logic in an interview on Thursday afternoon.
“You do not point a gun at something [you] do not intend to shoot,” she told host Aaron Keller. The defense admitted that McIver was in a back seat holding the firearm, but said it went off by accident, with the bullet hitting wife Diane in the front passenger seat. Boyd didn’t believe this argument. Citing the experience of other jurors, who are gun owners, she said firearms “just don’t go off.”
The defense never argued the gun discharged without McIver’s involvement. The case was about whether McIver intentionally shot it, or whether, as he was waking up while dozing off, the gun went off.
During the interview, Boyd several times used the term “reckless” to describe the defendant’s conduct. Reckless homicide was among the lesser-included charges jurors ultimately did not choose. Boyd also dismissed a mistake made by an expert witness for the state who accidentally fired the (empty) gun while on the stand. He was “playing” with the firearm, and that accident wasn’t applicable to Tex McIver, Boyd said.
All in all, it led to quite a bit of questioning by Keller. He has previously written that the prosecution’s murder case was “hogwash” and a reach unsupported by the available evidence. When the guilty verdict came in, he highlighted the shock from several Law&Crime regulars. On Monday, he called the decision “bizarre” because the selected verdict of felony murder/aggravated assault (where the defendant only intended violent injury and death was unintentional) did not seem to match the state’s theory of the case (where the defendant wanted his wife dead):
The state was adamant, crystal clear, loud, and firm: Tex McIver wanted Diane McIver dead. He wanted her dead for financial reasons. He wanted her dead so he could have their property and money to himself. He wanted her dead to prevent her from giving things to the people she cared about. (The couple kept separate finances.) Nowhere did the state suggest that McIver wanted to hurt his wife and that she unintentionally died as a result of his desire to merely injure her.
So, the jurors legally convicted McIver of what the state never argued he intended to do. Was it a compromise? Were they confused? Only they would know.
When pressed on the logic of the verdict, Boyd agreed that McIver intentionally shot his wife but didn’t mean for her to die. The prosecution didn’t prove he meant to commit murder, she said. Boyd then suggested she didn’t know why he wanted to open fire in the first place. It could’ve been due to finances, or stress, or he possibly wanted to be in control of his wife. (Prosecutors argued that McIver was having money problems, though the defense presented evidence he was doing just fine.) Boyd said the jury agreed with prosecutors that the 75-year-old defendant was continuing to live outside his means, even though his income was dropping.
Keller also questioned Boyd on the multiple questions jurors asked the judge. Boyd told Keller on Wednesday that jurors were confused about pamphlets describing the charges (for example, they wanted to know which counts were technically tied together), and she said that the judge did not give guidance regarding their questions. Jurors also asked to sit in the actual vehicle where the shooting occurred with the actual gun used in the shooting. Boyd said jurors wanted to go over the evidence with a “comb” and to get a better understanding as to how McIver would’ve been holding his gun that day. (On Monday, Keller questioned whether the jurors’ request to conduct their own experimentations suggested the prosecution failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. Boyd dismissed that issue surrounding the state’s burden of proof.)
Boyd also dismissed the defense’s story that the defendant asked for his gun because he was afraid of the neighborhood through which he was being driven.
“Why did he feel threatened?” she said. “I don’t know.” Boyd said that while she was not from Atlanta, she was in the neighborhood recently where the shooting occurred for a local television interview. She said it was just a “regular neighborhood” and there were homeless people throughout the state.
At the end of the interview, while she wouldn’t call being a juror “enjoyable,” she did say she was proud of having done her duty.
[Featured image via the Law&Crime Network.]