Atlanta attorney Claud “Tex” McIver waited more than two days after he shot and killed his wife before he agreed to meet with Atlanta police to tell them what happened.
When he did, McIver brought two attorneys with him, one of whom prefaced his interview with an explanation of the circumstances surrounding Diane McIver’s shooting.
On Thursday, during McIver’s ongoing murder trial, Fulton County prosecutors played a redacted version of that first interview with homicide detectives on Sept. 28, 2016.
But before McIver told police his version of the minutes leading up to the moment his gun fired, Decatur criminal defense lawyer Stephen Maples gave an overview of what McIver would say. As emergency personnel at Emory University Hospital tried unsuccessfully to save Diane McIver’s life, McIver summoned Maples to the hospital, even as he acknowledged to family friend Dani Jo Carter, “I know this doesn’t look good.”
McIver, who has never denied firing the shot that killed his wife, is on trial on charges of malice murder, felony murder and three counts of influencing witnesses. McIver and his lawyers have always insisted the gun fired accidentally. Prosecutors claim McIver had a financial motivation after he lost his equity partnership at Atlanta’s Fisher & Phillips in 2014.
An ER nurse and an Emory police officer have testified that they overheard Maples and McIver talking about “a plan” for what McIver should say.
Carter, the sole witness to the shooting, was driving the McIvers home from a weekend at the couple’s ranch near Lake Oconee when McIver fired a shot through the back of the front passenger seat where his wife was sitting.
Maples told homicide detectives that McIver’s “only recollection” was that the gun was in a plastic bag, and he was ”holding it down” between his legs when it discharged. But Maples insisted McIver “didn’t play with the hammer” of the Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver, and, “He didn’t pull back full cock” so that it would have been easier to fire.
In his interview with homicide detectives, McIver echoed his attorney’s account of the shooting. He said he was asleep in the SUV after a long day playing golf that left him “real tired.”
McIver said he awoke when the SUV left the interstate coming into downtown Atlanta. He recalled asking Carter and his wife: “Girls, where are we and what’s happening here?”
At the time, McIver told police, the trio was passing through “an area I thought was particularly dangerous at night. I had seen police vehicles there with blue lights on. They were doing things with people.”
It was also “very dark” and had “a particular high population of homeless,” he added. “There were a lot of people. I quickly said, ‘This is a big mistake. We are in a place we don’t belong.’”
McIver said he felt vulnerable because he was “in a big SUV with two women in the front seat” and that it seemed like “every turn we made, the street was darker and more people were milling about. It kind of makes the hair rise on the back of your neck.”
So, McIver said, he asked his wife, “I’d like to, if you don’t mind, please hand me my gun.”
But McIver said his alarm subsided as the SUV reached Piedmont Road and began traveling north through an increasingly upscale area.
“I guess I laid back again and went to sleep,” he said. Then Carter came to a stop. “I just started to wake up … and I was handling the gun,” he told the detectives. “I didn’t realize it was in my lap. And it went off.”
McIver said he “immediately called out, ‘Is everybody all right?’” Carter said yes. But his wife said, “I’ve been shot,” McIver recalled. “So I put my arms around her to try to determine how bad it was.”
McIver said he then made an “immediate judgment” that Emory University Hospital was closest, although four other hospitals, including the city’s two Trauma I facilities, were closer.
“I will never forget it as long as I live,” McIver said of their arrival at the ER. “As we pulled up to the door, I got up and yelled, ‘Gunshot wound!’ People were scurrying around. They come out with a gurney. They rolled her in. I’m holding her hand.”
But a videotape of the SUV’s arrival doesn’t show McIver racing for help but rather walking alongside the SUV as he signals Carter where to stop. He then opens the SUV’s passenger door as a valet brings a wheelchair. Seconds tick by until a parking supervisor notifies nurses who then come racing to the SUV. As they struggle to wheel an unconscious Diane McIver into the emergency room, Tex McIver is not holding his wife’s hand.
McIver insisted he remained with his wife, still holding her hand, until an ER physician asked him to leave and he “just watched through the glass.” McIver also told detectives that the physician treating his wife informed him that his wife had said the shooting was “just an accident.”
McIver said after his wife died, “I went in to see her, to tell her goodbye.” He said he remained at the hospital because “I just didn’t want to leave. She was there.” By then, police had impounded the SUV.
McIver’s story to police diverged from Carter’s own account. Carter testified that, when she began driving through downtown Atlanta, she saw no crowds of people or anyone that either she or Diane McIver, who was navigating, perceived as threatening. Carter identified the street onto which the SUV exited as Edgewood Avenue, a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood.
When police tried to pin McIver down on the location, Maples stepped in, insisting, “He doesn’t know where she got off.”
When he spoke with police, neither McIver nor his lawyers told police he suffered from a sleep disorder that his trial defense team has contended may have led to the shooting. They also didn’t say the gun fired when the SUV hit a bump—a story that McIver told one Emory physician and that Maples would later tell Atlanta news outlets.
There was also no mention of protests by Black Lives Matter, which a spokesman working for McIver told news outlets was what initially prompted McIver to get his gun. Maples, on McIver’s behalf, later attempted to retract that statement.