Two nurses at Emory University Hospital who wheeled Diane McIver into the hospital’s emergency room the night she died said that both McIver and her husband, Claud “Tex” McIver, told them the shooting was an accident.
But one of those nurses, Allison Neeley, testified that Tex McIver was “emotionless” as his wife was dying. “He did not appear upset or distraught,” she said.
Prosecutors have hinted that, instead of rushing her to closer hospitals in downtown Atlanta, one a trauma center at Grady Memorial Hospital, they instead drove to a hospital an estimated 15 minutes away after McIver fired a bullet into his wife’s back. Prosecutors are suggesting that delay could have been part of McIver’s plan to kill his wife.
McIver, who was charged with murder, has maintained the shooting was an accident. Fulton County prosecutors contend he shot and killed his wife to maintain his diminishing wealth.
Neeley and Blair Brown, who was then working as a critical care nurse at Emory University Hospital’s main campus, said Tex McIver didn’t alert them his wife was shot until they asked him what had happened as they wheeled her into the ER.
McIver didn’t say how his wife was shot or who shot her, Neeley said.
Brown, who joined Neeley in rushing Diane McIver into a critical room inside the ER, said that, as the nurses wrestled Diane McIver’s limp body out of the front passenger seat of the McIvers’ SUV, “I had no idea why she was there. There was no trauma I could see. I heard light moaning.”
McIver’s legs were dangling, making it difficult to move the chair. Brown said she grabbed one leg and asked a man in a red shirt—whom she identified in court as McIver—to grab the other. “I said, ‘What is going on?’” she recalled. “And that is when he said, ‘Gunshot wound.’”
But an employee of the hospital’s valet parking service said that, when the SUV pulled into the ER drive, McIver—who jumped out of the car before it came to a halt—shouted, “There’s a gunshot in the back.” The valet said he did not communicate that information to hospital personnel.
Brown said nurses at first were unable to locate the bullet entry wound, so she left Diane McIver’s side to question her husband again. McIver hesitated for as long as six seconds before replying, she said. He then told her it was an accident.
“He said, ‘The gun was in my hand,’” she continued. “It just went off.”
Brown said she asked him what kind of gun he used. McIver again hesitated. “He was just staring at me,” she said. “I started naming guns—a .22, .38, a shotgun,” she said. McIver then said he shot his wife with a .38 caliber, Brown testified.
Brown also recalled that, when she was questioning Tex McIver, “He was red-faced. And I didn’t know if that was sunburn or his complexion.” She also said she smelled alcohol on his breath. “I enjoy little wine here and there. I know that smell,” she said. “I also have smelt it on patients before.”
But under cross-examination by defense team member Don Samuel, she explained, “It didn’t take my head off. It wasn’t a punch to the face.” She said she would “probably equate it to” a glass of wine with dinner.
The nurses said that, when Diane McIver first arrived at Emory, her blood pressure had fallen so dramatically that they had difficulty finding a pulse. Eventually, Diane McIver regained consciousness and told a physician questioning her that the shooting was an accident.
Mary Windom, another ER nurse, said that as they were tried to stabilize Diane McIver, Dr. Susanne Hardy asked, “Did you accidentally shoot yourself?”
“My husband shot me in the back,” Diane McIver replied. “But it was an accident.”
But the nurses testified that, while they were paging trauma and cardiothoracic surgeons who were on call that night, Tex McIver was calling his own backup—two men whom prosecutors have identified as attorneys.
Neeley testified that two men who arrived at the ER after Diane McIver was taken to surgery began huddling with Tex McIver and a woman she identified as Dani Jo Carter, who was driving the couple’s SUV that evening.
The McIvers arrived at the ER shortly after 10 p.m. on Sept. 25, Windom said. At 4 a.m. the following day, Tex McIver sought ER treatment for himself.
“It was a very brief visit,” she recalled. “It was not like a typical emergency room visit. It was very short. As soon as the doctor saw him, he was checked out.”
Tex McIver’s story about how his wife was shot began to morph while he was still at Emory, according to a fourth nurse who testified Thursday. Shahinda Cyclewala said that, as she was passing McIver in the ER, she overheard him say, “I was cleaning my gun in the bathroom, and I shot her.”