A prominent Georgia attorney whose felony murder conviction was previously overturned by the state’s highest court has his bond request denied by a county judge in Atlanta on Friday morning.
Claud Lee “Tex” McIver III was denied bond by Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney over concerns that the would-be defendant might pose a flight risk in the event of a re-trial. Formally, at least, such proceedings are currently in the offing.
McIver’s murder conviction was tossed by the Georgia Supreme Court in June of this year – months after justices grilled the prosecution over “completely made up” arguments raised during his 2018 trial.
The attorney was ultimately acquitted of malice murder but found guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony over the death of his wife, Diane McIver, who was shot through the backseat of the couple’s SUV in 2016 after she handed him a gun from the front console due to safety concerns about the area their friend was driving through. He was also found guilty of influencing a witness and sentenced to life in prison.
The high court, in the end, ruled the trial judge “erred in denying [McIver’s] request to charge the jury on a lesser involuntary manslaughter offense” but allowed the state to bid for a new trial.
“The freedom to live out her life was unfairly and intentionally taken from her,” a prosecutor said, reading from a victim impact statement during the bond hearing on Friday. “And the lasting rippling effect of her loss lingers daily. Not just in our office where she was so loved and respected and served as president, but even more as a very close friend and confidante. I so wanted to believe her death was an accident. I so wanted to believe her death was an accident, however, the actions taken and shown by Mr. McIver prove otherwise.”
The state’s attorney went on, by way of the victim impact statement, to accuse McIver of unceremoniously seeking to cash in on his wife’s death in various ways – more or less immediately after her death.
Judge McBurney interjected to ask the prosecutor if she had anything to argue in terms of what he actually needed to consider during a bond hearing, specifically: risk of flight and witness concerns.
“It was not love that killed Diane McIver, but one silver bullet and 12 pounds of pressure,” she said. “I do believe that he is a flight risk; I do believe that he is a danger to other people, based on the actions that he showed.”
A series of witnesses for the prosecution then testified.
The judge recounted the procedural history of the bond situation – saying he was previously inclined to not allow the potential defendant to be incarcerated due to the state’s delay, but, he noted, that before the court today was the state saying they are finally ready to retry the case.
McBurney went on at length to explain why bond was denied:
I also have before me a man who has heard a jury say: ‘You are guilty of felony murder and will spend the rest of your natural life in jail.’ Not quite accurate – you’d be eligible for parole after 30 years and you might outlive everyone’s expectations and be around for a parole hearing. But, effectively, you were sentenced to jail for the rest of your life. I think it was reasonable and appropriate for me to consider that you, Mr. McIver, never, ever want to hear that again. And the best way to do that is to not come back. The best way to do that is to have a bond where you are living in Texas and you disappear. You are a man of means…
[Image via screengrab/WAGA]
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]