An jury in Fulton County, Georgia has convicted attorney Tex McIver of felony murder.
McIver originally faced seven charges, including murder, over the death of his wife, Diane McIver, who was the successful CEO of an area business. Tex McIver said the shooting of his wife was accidental.
The original seven charges against McIver and the ultimate dispositions are as follows:
- Malice murder. Not guilty.
- Felony murder. Guilty.
- Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. Guilty.
- Possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony. Guilty.
- Influencing a witness (Dani Jo Carter). Guilty.
- Influencing a witness (Bill Crane). Dismissed by the judge after the state’s case-in-chief because the facts did not fit the crime charged.
- Influencing a witness (Thomas Lee Carter, Jr., Dani Jo’s husband). Dismissed by the judge after the state’s case-in-chief because the facts did not fit the crime charged.
The judge added two lesser-included counts:
- Involuntary manslaughter due to reckless conduct. Jurors did not reach this charge due to the guilty verdicts on the main counts.
- Involuntary manslaughter due to criminal negligence. Jurors did not reach this charge due to the guilty verdicts on the main counts.
Ride Home from Dinner.
The victim, the defendant, and a friend, Dani Jo Carter, were on home from dinner when the shooting occurred. Dani Jo Carter was driving. Diane McIver was in the front passenger seat. Tex McIver was in the rear seat behind his wife. When Carter encountered congestion on the highway, she took an exit into a neighborhood Tex McIver considered unsafe. He asked for his gun. Diane McIver took it out of the center console and handed it to her husband. Tex McIver said he was in and out of sleep. He claims he woke up and that the gun, which was in his hand, suddenly went off.
Prosecutors said McIver lied about a headache in order to get Dani Jo Carter to drive. Defense attorneys said no Hollywood studio would purchase the rights to a story as ludicrous as a man who tried to kill his wife eight inches away from her best friend.
Discharge of McIver’s Gun.
The case centered around whether the gun in McIver’s hand could have gone off accidentally. During closing arguments, prosecutors said the gun was not “malfunctioning,” was in “perfect working condition,” and that “guns don’t just go off.” They aruged that the hammer was not pulled back when the gun discharged. As such, twelve and a quarter pounds of pressure would have been necessary to successfully pull the trigger and to fire a bullet. (Had the hammer been cocked, the gun would have been easier to fire and, therefore, easier to fire accidentally.) Prosecutors said the twelve pounds of pressure necessary for a successful trigger pull suggested a deliberate action by the defendant and, therefore, intent.
Prosecutors didn’t mention that their own expert accidentally triggered the unloaded weapon in front of jurors. The defense seized on that and played clips from the Law&Crime Network to remind jurors it had happened. The defense said, “we are not claiming the gun just discharged. We’re not talking about nonhuman discharge; it’s an accident because it was unintentional.”
The defense said the case did not amount to murder. Murder under Georgia law requires intent, either express or implied, and the defense said prosecutors failed to prove it.
Prosecutors said McIver was used to living the high life and that he killed his wife to gain control of her finances. The couple had married later in life and kept separate finances. The defense countered that McIver’s financial affairs were consistent with someone transitioning from the management structure at the law firm where he worked, which at his age was common. McIver is in his early 70s.
The defense slammed prosecutors during closing arguments for suggesting that Tex McIver was having a sexual affair with his massage therapist. After prosecutors raised that issue at trial, the defense called the therapist testified that no such relationship had occurred. Prosecutors said they never suggested that sex actually took place, but that McIver’s conduct with the masseuse didn’t “look right.” The masseuse said she slept in the same bedroom as McIver after his wife died because he was having medical issues.
Among Other Things, Prosecutors . . .
- Compared McIver to a gigolo who was after the victim for money;
- Said that had McIver called 911, surgeons would be waiting at the hospital; instead, he didn’t, and that could have cost his wife her life;
- Shook up a jar of water to accuse defense attorneys of making things cloudy, but that they would make things clear again;
- In a tired analogy, showed a video of an octopus to suggest all the defendant could do was darken the water to defend itself;
- Said that McIver was pulling funny moves with his wife’s finances after her death, and that McIver was “no Southern gentleman;”
- Accused McIver of trying to bribe the District Attorney.
[Image via screen grab from the Law&Crime Network.]