Jay Grover testifies Friday in the Tex McIver murder trial at the Fulton County Courthouse. Jay Grover testifies Friday in the Tex McIver murder trial at the Fulton County Courthouse. (File photo: Steve Schaefer/AJC)

An executive at U.S. Enterprises where Diane McIver was president before she was shot to death by her husband, Claud “Tex” McIver, painted a picture of a man far more interested in his reputation and bank account than his wife’s death.

Jay Grover, an executive vice president at the Atlanta billboard company and a close personal friend of Diane McIver, testified Friday at Atlanta attorney Tex McIver’s murder trial. In addition to murder, McIver faces three counts of influencing witnesses.

McIver has never denied shooting his wife. But he has always claimed it was an accident, even as he and his representatives altered their accounts of the circumstances surrounding the shooting. Prosecutors claim McIver had a financial motivation after he lost his equity partnership at Atlanta’s Fisher & Phillips in 2014.

Grover, who is also a 20-year veteran of the Conyers Police Department, recounted for the jury a number of conversations he had with Tex McIver beginning the morning after Diane McIver died. McIver, he said, called him to say there had been an “accident” and that Diane McIver was dead. McIver did not tell him he shot her.

Occasionally overcome with emotion, Grover testified that McIver asked him to break the news to Billy Corey, chairman of U.S. Enterprises and Diane McIver’s mentor, boss and friend for more than 40 years. But it was Dani Jo Carter, who was driving the McIvers home from a weekend at their ranch and the shooting’s sole witness, who broke the news that Tex McIver killed his wife, Grover said.

Grover said his first substantive conversation with McIver occurred several hours later. McIver, he said, was focused on the publicity generated by the shooting.

“Look, the press has gotten hold of this already,” Grover said McIver told him. “Some bad things may come out about Diane. But I just want you to remember that she loved you.”

“I didn’t know what to say,” Grover testified.

The next day, Grover said he and Corey went to the Buckhead condominium where the McIvers lived to visit a neighbor who Carter had spent the night with. As they got off the elevator, they ran into Tex McIver in the hall talking on his cellphone.

McIver, Grover said, joined them in neighbor Janie Calhoun’s condo a short time later. By then, Carter had given them more details about the shooting, but Tex didn’t talk about Diane.

“When he sat down … he turned and looked over at me and said, ‘Jay, can you believe they want to charge me with reckless conduct for this thing?’” Grover recalled.

“I was taken aback by that,” Grover said. “I was actually shocked that would be the first thing out of his mouth.”

A call came in on McIver’s cellphone moments later, Grover said. McIver said it was his spokesman, Bill Crane, and that he had to take the call.

Crane would soon be speaking on McIver’s behalf to the media, laying out a version of the shooting to news outlets that McIver pulled out his gun because he feared Black Lives Matter protesters on the downtown Atlanta streets they were driving on prior to the shooting. While Black Lives Matter had been protesting in north Atlanta near the McIvers’ residence that weekend, no protests took place that Sunday.

That night, Grover said he and Corey visited the McIvers’ condominium, where mourners were gathering. Grover said he had left the condo to join the McIvers’ godson and a former University of Georgia football player who were throwing the football in the parking garage. Tex, he said, was in the garage on his cellphone.

When McIver finished the call, he asked Grover whether he could collect his wife’s social security benefits, Grover testified. They were soon joined by Les Ball, another friend and a former Macy’s CEO who sat on a number of national corporate boards.

Money was still on McIver’s mind, Grover recalled. McIver asked Ball if he knew anyone in Oklahoma. McIver said he “was trying to get on the board of directors of a tobacco company in Oklahoma” that the lawyer said paid board members $100,000 annually.

Grover said he spoke with McIver again later that week. McIver told him he recovered the Ford Expedition from police that the shooting took place in. McIver also told him the SUV “was hidden” at the home of one of Billy Corey’s employees. McIver, Grover added, was looking to sell it.

At the end of that conversation, Grover said McIver told him, “’I’ve got to run. I got to go down and see my lawyers.’ … He said, ‘They’re jumping up and down.’ He said, ‘They said that I have fucked up the case.’”

McIver said his attorneys’ consternation stemmed from a news article that attributed remarks to Crane, McIver’s spokesman.

“There’s nothing wrong with the article,” Grover recalled McIver told him. “I don’t know what they’re so upset about.”

Grover recalled one more instance that he said stunned him following Diane McIver’s death. He made a trip to meet Tex McIver at the couple’s ranch near Lake Oconee, and when he arrived, Grover was greeted by McIver and his massage therapist, Annie Anderson. Anderson, Grover recalled, was wearing a pair of Western-style rain boots that belonged to Diane.

Grover said he recognized them because he bought them for Diane.

There was one detail of that trip the jury didn’t hear. Prosecutors and the defense said before the trial adjourned for lunch that Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills, a longtime friend of McIver’s, told McIver he needed to get Anderson “out of here” because “it didn’t look good” having her at the ranch so soon after his wife’s death.