A well-known attorney in Atlanta, Claud McIver, better known as “Tex,” fatally shot his wife and, after been arrested on murder charges, is pursuing an accidental discharge defense. McIver is a 75-year-old former partner at Fisher & Phillips.
According to his defense attorney, Bruce Harvey, in September 2016, McIver was in the back seat of an SUV nodding off to sleep while his wife, Diane, was riding in the passenger seat. Dani Jo Carter, Diane’s best friend, was driving the vehicle. Harvey argued that his client was nodding off when the weapon discharged and he accidentally shot his wife. He only awoke after it had fired several times.
The defense had previously had a difficult time with jury selection in their case as many potential candidates asked to be excused after hearing Harvey’s version of the events. The judge had even made several evidence rulings that favored the prosecution just prior to jury selection and had hinted at a change of venue due to their difficulties.
Eventually, the selected jurors heard that Tex decided against calling 911 after the alleged “accident.” They were also made privy to the fact that there had been an estate sale that included Diane’s jewelry prior to her death, and that Tex was the primary beneficiary of Diane’s will. The prosecution was unable to present the fact that her husband had also opted against taking her to a hospital nearby to treat her wounds in favor of selecting one much further away.
McIver had reportedly asked his wife just prior to the incident, “Darlin’, would you hand me my gun?” He thought they were headed through a bad neighborhood and wanted to keep his .38 revolver close for protection. Carter confirmed “there were a lot of scary people standing at the intersection” they passed through just prior to McIver’s request, and Diane had handed him the weapon he stored in the center console. But, Tex then fell asleep and shot Diane to death.
Harvey indicated the crew had also been sharing a bottle of wine, passing it back and forth, during their joy ride and alcohol was a factor in the event. He insisted Tex and Diane had a loving relationship, and in questioning Carter, asked if Tex got quiet in the back just before the gun went off, to which Carter responded he had. She said, “I assumed he was asleep.”
It became apparent during questioning the McIver had a sleep disorder that made it difficult for him to decipher his dreams from reality. Tex would often “lash out” while sleeping, according to Carter. She made a statement that the couple were “lovebirds” and she had no doubt it was an accident.
Tex had been demoted from an equity to an income partner at Fisher & Phillips while he was employed at the firm, and his income had dropped by more than half from his first years of partnership to his final year there. There was some question whether finances had become too tight and Tex needed the funds he was set to receive if Diane passed.