ATLANTA - Closing arguments have finished in the murder trial of Tex McIver, a prominent Atlanta attorney accused of murdering his wife in 2016. Now, the judge has sent the jury back to begin deliberations.
McIver argues the deadly shooting was an accident, but prosecutors believe he killed Diane McIver for financial gain.
"We are asking you to use your common sense when deciding this case," the prosecution told jurors Tuesday morning.
Closing arguments got underway just before 9:30 a.m. Tuesday with prosecutor Cara Convery opening for the state. Convery began by thanking the jury for 27 days of service.
"Your job is to make a determination on what you heard within these four walls," she told jurors.
Convery went on to discuss the word "intent," saying when you aim a loaded gun at your wife and kill her, "you had intent."
"The gun was aimed and in perfect working condition," the prosecutor said. "What we have in this case is no accident. Guns just don't go off."
The state went on to urge the jury to find McIver guilty on every count, including murder, felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during a felony, and influencing a witness, Dani Jo Carter, who was inside the car when the shooting took place.
"It is you the jury that determines the credibility of these witnesses," Convery said.
Each side is allowed to take up to two hours to make their final impressions on the jury. The defense began with attorney Don Samuel telling jurors they'll never forget this experience.
"Your role is to make a decision, something you do every day," Samuel said. "What you need is proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I am going to talk to you about doubts."
"I will give you 16 doubts to disprove the state's theory and you only need one doubt to find a verdict of not guilty," he said.
Samuel argued there's zero evidence Mrs. McIver was going to close on the $350,000 loan and zero evidence of a second will.
The defense's first doubt was that the McIvers were in love, "like young teenagers and the state wants you to discredit that."
Samuel then asked the jurors why would you murder someone with their best friend 8 inches away, stating it doesn't make sense. He also said if you're about to murder someone, it makes no sense to fall asleep.
The attorney went on to say the details surrounding the gun make zero sense, because "who intentionally kills someone and keep the gun on his lap?"
"All of the evidence about he did not grieve properly just proves he did not plan the shooting," Samuel said.
The defense said there are many reasonable doubts in this case and many hurdles to get over.
"There is no crime to having a loaded gun on your lap," Samuel said. "If something happens, it is an accident."
Samuel then said the state's case is based on speculation and red herrings, calling it a "distraction."
After a short break, defense attorney Bruce Harvey called the shooting "an accident, searching for a motive" and that the prosecution delivered "a tale of innuendo and undelivered promises."
Using testimony from an expert, Harvey said that it was not possible for McIver to hold the gun upright given the spacial limitations.
"An unintentional discharge is an accident," he said. "We do not convict people on the cloud and fog of speculation, but the bedrock of facts."
The defense has now rested for the last time. Fulton County Chief Assistant District Attorney Clint Rucker then had the final words.
Rucker began with a poem, asking, "Who will stand for Diane McIver?"
The state argued that killing Diane would solve all of Tex's problems involving money and the ownership of a ranch that the state said Diane wanted to leave to her godson. Tex coveted Diane's money, Rucker argued.
Rucker said that Tex had four versions of what happened, and each was full of lies.
Ahead of closing arguments, Tuesday morning began with the judge removing the misdemeanor charge jurors could have convicted McIver of, leaving only felony charges. The defense objected.
On Monday, the trial kicked off with a rebuttal case from the state. The first rebuttal witness called to the stand was Dr. Mark Pressman, a sleep medicine expert.
The defense previously said McIver had "confusable arousal" at the time of the shooting, but Dr. Pressman testified that's only reached after about 40 to 50 minutes of sleep. Dr. Pressman said McIver did not have enough time to get to REM sleep for a "confusable arousal" to occur when he shot his wife.
Pressman went on to say McIver's behavior was consistent with someone who was awake when he shot Mrs. McIver.
The rebuttal case wrapped up around lunchtime
The jury then was able to view the actual SUV where McIver shot his wife. They saw the vehicle in the garage under the courthouse. All of the jurors were allowed to sit in the SUV and open and close the doors. The viewing took about 26 minutes.
Then, the state rested again and the defense chose not to call any additional witnesses.
Last week, the defense rested its case without McIver taking the stand. McIver told the judge he understood his right to testify but declined the opportunity to testify on his own behalf.
Before the defense rested, a defense expert told jurors McIver likely had the gun on his side when it discharged, but he could not say whether the gun was fired intentionally or unintentionally.
Crime Scene Analyst Ross Martin Gardner said it was physically impossible that the gun was held upright because of the trajectory of the bullet.
"Every indication is the gun was on his side when it fired," Mr. Gardner remarked. The opinion was more consistent with Tex McIver's position that he shot his wife Diane by accident.
Last week, jurors also heard from the new executor of Diane McIver's estate.