Tom Carter reviews phone records between Tex McIver and himself. Tom Carter reviews phone records between Tex McIver and himself. (Pool photo: Hyosub Shin/AJC)

A week after Atlanta attorney Claud “Tex” McIver shot and killed his wife, he placed an urgent phone call to the husband of the sole witness in the shooting.

“Tommy Lee, it’s Tex,” McIver said in the voicemail for Tom Carter Jr. “Sir, just let me be plain. Dani is about to send me to prison. Please erase this—this voice mail message—but call me right away. Y’all have no idea the problem this is causing. It’s innocent, but it’s absolutely nuclear to me. Please, please call me.”

Carter took the witness stand on Wednesday in McIver’s ongoing murder trial over the death of his wife, Diane. Carter’s testimony followed that of his wife, Dani Jo Carter—the sole witness to Diane McIver’s shooting.

Tex McIver’s frantic phone call to Tom Carter was one of eight he made to him on Oct. 6, 2016. McIver and his attorney, Stephen Maples, had urged Dani Jo Carter, Diane McIver’s manicurist and friend of more than 40 years, to meet McIver and members of the news media at Maples’ law office to give a formal public statement about the shooting.

The meeting had been set up, both Carters recalled during their testimony, after Tex McIver tried to talk to Dani Jo Carter about her “story” of the shooting.

But Carter testified that his wife changed her mind about attending. He said his wife was being “hounded” by the media and that she had finally hired a lawyer.

Instead, the couple skipped the scheduled interview and sought refuge at the home of neighbor Dale Cardwell, a former television reporter who is now a private consumer products investigator.

Carter said that, after seven increasingly urgent calls from McIver that morning, he called back.

“He was upset about the fact that she [Dani Jo] had hired an attorney to represent her,” he recalled. McIver was afraid Dani Jo Carter’s decision to hire counsel would make him look guilty.

“My thinking was, ‘Why is it OK for him to get an attorney, but it’s not OK for my wife to get one?’” Carter testified. “That’s what I didn’t understand.”

Carter said that McIver was also insisting his wife speak to the media when he had yet to make his own statement. At the time, McIver was letting Maples and a hired spokesman do the talking for him.

It was not the first time Carter fielded multiple phone calls from Tex McIver following the shooting. McIver also called him multiple times shortly after Diane McIver died at Emory University Hospital.

McIver has never denied firing the fatal shot from the rear passenger seat of the couple’s Ford Expedition as Dani Jo Carter drove it through the streets of downtown Atlanta. The trio was returning from a weekend at the McIvers’ 75-acre ranch southeast of the city near Lake Oconee.

But he has always insisted the shooting was an accident, and his lawyers contend he suffers from a sleep disorder that could have led to the gun’s inadvertent discharge.

Carter testified that McIver called him after the shooting to tell him, “There’s been an accident. Diane is dead.” Carter had already received a text message from his wife saying there was an accident.

Unable to reach his wife by phone, Carter headed to Emory, unaware that she was being questioned by detectives at the Atlanta Police Department.

At the time, Tom Carter said neither he nor McIver knew police had taken his wife downtown.

At the hospital, Carter said he located McIver and Maples. McIver, he said, “told me they were on the way back from the ranch, and they ran into some traffic downtown, and they got off in what he felt like was a dangerous area. So they [his wife] handed him back his gun, and at some point he fell asleep, and the damned thing just went off,” Carter recalled.

Carter said he soon heard from his wife. He picked her up at the police department and returned with her to the hospital to pick up McIver, who had been treated by ER staff after complaining of anxiety. The SUV, by then, was secured by police, and the Carters took McIver home.

Dani Jo Carter has testified that, at the hospital, McIver suggested she should say only that she was at the hospital as a friend of the family, if questioned by police.

When she was questioned, Carter testified she didn’t mention what McIver had said because, “It sounded very bad for Tex.”

Within a week, however, she had shared the information with Cardwell. “She said he [McIver] suggested that she could stay out of the entire matter,” Cardwell said.

Dani Jo Carter confided even more to Cardwell that the jury didn’t hear—the result of objections by McIver’s lawyers and a ruling by Fulton County Superior Court Chief Judge Robert McBurney.

Cardwell said that Carter also told him McIver suggested “it might be best” if she simply left the hospital. “And he indicated to her he had called Steve Maples, his attorney, and that he seemed to be in a strategy situation rather than a grief situation,” Cardwell recalled.

Cardwell also said that Carter had confided that, at the hospital, “Tex was acting strangely. He didn’t seem to be speaking or thinking things that were consistent with someone who would be in deep grief.”