ATLANTA - The former metro Atlanta lawyer whose conviction in the shooting death of his wife was overturned by the Georgia Supreme Court in 2022 will be back in court this week for a new trial.
Claud Lee "Tex" McIver III was convicted in 2018 of felony murder and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony in the shooting death of his wife, Diane.
On the night of Sept. 25, 2016, Dani Jo Carter, a close friend of Diane McIver, was driving the couple’s Ford Expedition as the three returned from a weekend at the McIvers’ horse farm about 75 miles east of Atlanta. Diane McIver was in the front passenger seat and Tex McIver was in the back seat behind his wife.
With traffic heavy on the interstate, Carter exited in downtown Atlanta. McIver said, "Girls, I wish you hadn’t done this. This is a really bad area," and asked his wife to get his gun from the center console and hand it to him. A short while later, McIver fired the gun once, striking his wife in the back. Carter drove to a hospital where Diane McIver died.
There was never any dispute that McIver shot his wife — the question at trial was whether he meant to. Prosecutors said he was driven to kill her because he coveted his wife’s money. Defense attorneys said that was nonsense, that McIver loved his wife dearly and her death was a terrible accident after he had fallen asleep with the gun in his hand.
A Fulton County jury found McIver guilty of felony murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, and influencing witnesses in connection with the death of his wife. He was sentenced to life in prison.
However, in June 2022, The Supreme Court reversed McIver's convictions because they said the trial court "erred in denying his request to charge the jury on a lesser involuntary manslaughter offense."
Then-Presiding Justice Michael Boggs, who is now the court's chief justice, wrote in the unanimous opinion, "While the State’s evidence was sufficient to support the appellant’s conviction of murder, it also could have supported a finding that the appellant killed the victim without any intention of doing so in the commission of an unlawful act."
While the high court overturned McIver's murder conviction, it upheld his conviction for influencing a witness.
The McIvers were wealthy and well-connected. He was a partner at a prominent labor and employment law firm and served on the state election board. She was president of U.S. Enterprises Inc., the parent company of Corey Airport Services.
After the high court's decision, the Fulton County District Attorney's office filed a new motion saying it planned to retry McIver on charges of felony murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony.
In its motion for a new trial, the district attorney’s office notes that the Supreme Court found there was enough evidence at trial for a rational jury to conclude beyond a reasonable doubt that McIver was guilty of the crimes for which he was convicted.
"The jury which served at the original trial of this case evaluated all of the evidence and unanimously convicted (McIver) of intentional crimes against his wife," the motion says. "This fact weighs heavily in the State’s consideration of how best to serve the interests of justice in this case. This District Attorney believes very strongly that a jury of one’s peers, working as a body, is best positioned to evaluate the accuracy of testimony and other evidence in a case to determine an individual’s culpability under the law."
McIver's new trial is set to begin Wednesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.