Atlanta police investigating the death of businesswoman Diane McIver missed “the biggest, most direct evidence” that she knew her husband intended to kill her, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said.

It was Diane’s final word, declining to see her husband as she lay dying in the hospital, that guided prosecutors’ pursuit of Claud “Tex” McIver for murder. Howard, in his first wide-ranging interview since McIver was sentenced to life in May, said that last conscious act by Diane McIver became one of the driving forces behind the district attorney’s successful murder prosecution.

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