ATLANTA - Several witnesses took the stand for the state on day 2 of the Tex McIver murder trial
Read our live blog below to catch up on what happened in court Wednesday:
Channel 2 Action News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution will bring you LIVE gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Tex McIver murder trial. Check back each day for a live blog from the courtroom and daily video recaps. Visit our Tex McIver murder trial special section for an interactive timeline, history of the case and much more.
Jurors have been dismissed for the day. Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said he would talk with attorneys for the prosecution and the defense about picking up the pace of the trial. “I’m not going to create a forced march, but I do want to get more done,” the judge said.
Testimony is being heard from Jonathan Moore, an employee of a Longhorn restaurant near Cumberland Mall in Cobb County. He is testifying that the McIvers ordered an entire bottle of wine with their dinner on the night Diane McIver was shot, which is unusual for their restaurant.
Tanner McKinney says on Sunday, Sept. 25, 2016, Tex McIver asked him about driving Dani Jo Carter from the ranch back to her home in Atlanta. But Tanner said he reminded Tex that they lived in Athens, not Atlanta. McIver didn’t persist with the request. Rucker asks Tanner why he remembers this conversation. Tanner isn’t sure. Later that night, Tex McIver would shoot his wife in the back as they were being driven into Atlanta by Dani Jo Carter.
Tanner McKinney, a witness for the state, is on the stand. He and his girlfriend, who live in Athens, exercised horses on the McIver ranch for two or three years. Prosecuting attorney Clint Rucker is asking about social events and drinking at the ranch. “They were fun people.” McKinney recalls the McIvers treating Austin Schwall “like a grandson.”
Today jurors have heard from two employees who worked with Diane McIver that both Tex and Diane were exhibiting odd behavior on the Friday before Diane’s death. Tex McIver was seen coming into the U.S. Enterprises offices briefly and looking “red faced.” Diane McIver was seen in her office looking “distraught.” Both would later leave together with Diane McIver’s best friend, Dani Jo Carter, for the drive to their ranch.
Paralegal Elaine Williams said Diane McIver once told her that the worst thing that could happen to her would be to not have enough money to live on. On the Friday afternoon before Diane McIver’s death, paralegal Elaine Williams recounts seeing Diane in her office appearing “distraught.” Williams is cautioned she may not testify what Diane McIver told her that afternoon.
Later that afternoon, Diane and Tex McIver and Diane’s friend Dani Jo Carter departed for the McIver’s ranch.
Prosecuting attorney Clint Rucker asks what Dani Jo Carter was wearing that day when she came into the office. Williams describes a shirt that exposed the lower part of Dani Jo Carter’s back.
After a brief consultation with the judge and defense attorneys, Rucker ends his questioning.
A paralegal with U.S. Enterprises for 20 years, Elaine Williams is testifying that Diane McIver provided her with emotional support and financial help when Williams’ family members were ill. “She was a very professional woman, but she was not Florence Nightingale. She was a businesswoman and didn’t like taking care of sick people.” She also said Diane McIver was ruthless in business and could have a sharp tongue.
Jurors submitted questions to the judge about how Terry Brown was paid for the work he did as a personal assistant to Diane McIver. He said he billed his hours to U.S. Enterprises, but recorded the hours he spent working for her personally and she was in turned billed by the company for that time. There was also a question about the relationship of the godson’s parents to the McIvers. Godson Austin Schwall’s parents were friends of the McIvers.
Terry Brown’s testimony is done.
Both defense and prosecution return to a statement made earlier in the day by Terry Brown. A week before Diane's memorial, Tex McIver said his neighbor and friend Janie Calhoun wasn’t happy with her husband and "maybe he (Tex) could get her back." Brown said he only told the Fulton County District Attorney’s office about the comment in the past month. Asked why he didn’t tell Janie Calhoun about the remark at the time, Brown replied, “I just didn’t think she needed to hear it. ...She had enough going on already. We all did.”
Asked by the defense attorney if he observed that the McIvers had a good marriage, Brown said, “I believe that to be true, yes.”
Defense attorney Amanda Clark Palmer is reviewing some of Diane McIver’s routine expenses with Brown, including vacations. Clark Palmer pointed out that she owned designer clothing and jewelry, multiple fur coats and also paid for a membership at Reynolds Plantation. Brown agreed that the McIvers also took vacations to Pebble Beach, Hawaii and Sedona, among others, that cost thousands of dollars.
Jurors have returned and witness Terry Brown, Diane McIver’s former executive assistant, is back on the stand, reviewing some of Diane McIver’s income.
After the jury was dimissed for lunch, Judge Robert McBurney told attorneys the remark Brown recalled by Tex McIver about his neighbor as relevant to the case because the defense has focused on the McIver’s happy marriage.
Following Diane McIver’s death, Brown met with Tex McIver and went over her accounts. Brown testifies that Tex McIver had expected that she had more money. There was about $400,000 in all her accounts.
Brown also recounted having seen Diane McIver’s will around 2013-15. He said she was thinking of making changes to it.
Witness Terry Brown, Diane McIver’s former executive assistant, recalled a discussion he had with Tex a week before Diane's memorial. Tex said the McIver’s neighbor Janie Calhoun, whom Tex used to date, wasn't happy with her husband and "maybe he (Tex) could get her back."
Calhoun was the first witness called in the trial on Monday morning. She testified that she and Tex had dated briefly before he married Diane. Calhoun also said that she and Diane McIver used to joke about it.
After Diane McIver’s death, Tex McIver came to Brown to understand his wife’s finances and accounts. Brown went to Tex McIver’s condo and explained to him what he needed to do to keep the condo running and the bills that needed to be tracked and paid. Asked why he agreed to meet with Tex McIver after her death, Brown breaks down. “It’s what my job was. It was very important to me to finish … to finish her life.” Brown said Tex was surprised by the number that was in his wife’s checking accounts. “He thought she had more money than she had.”
Diane McIver’s former executive assistant Terry Brown said he had a good relationship with her. He said she had “a very strong personality. She was a very dominant woman. She had to be. She worked in a man’s world. When it came to business there was no fooling around with Diane. It was her way or the highway.”
Terry Brown also planned the McIvers’ vacations “in every detail.” He recalled they took the Schwalls on a family vacation once a year and also took vacations with other couples.
“The woman never rested. Every minute was scheduled from when she got up in the morning until she went to bed at night. And that was vacation. Very rarely were they (the McIvers) ever alone that I know of. They always had a group of people with them and that’s what they liked. There were always people at the ranch and at the condo.”
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action news will bring you LIVE gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Tex McIver murder trial. Check back each day for a live blog from the courtroom and daily video recaps. Visit myajc.com/crime/ for previous coverage of the case and a link to our Breakdown podcast.
Terry Brown recounts that he socialized with Diane and Tex McIver and he also helped in planning parties for them, including birthday parties at the couple’s Eatonton ranch for their godson Austin Schwall. The parties took about 2 months to plan and usually included a petting zoo, blow-up slide or castle, and full catering. The cost of the parties was divided between each of the McIvers, who kept separate finances, Brown said.
He described how fond Diane McIver was of her grandson. “She thought that kid built the world. She had no children so (he) was like, I guess you could say a grandson to her. She cherished the ground that boy walked on.”
Diane McIver’s former executive assistant Terry Brown is testifying she loaned money to her friends, but she arranged to have payments made. Among the loans he helped manage was a $350,000 loan to Tex McIver that began in January 2012. Originally the loan was for a 3-year term, but at the end of 3 years, Diane McIver told Brown she had re-upped the loan for another three years and reduced the payment.
New witness Terry Brown, former executive assistant to Diane McIver at U.S. Enterprises, is testifying about his years working with her. He handled her bills and had access to several of her banking accounts. He said she liked to pay her own bills and keep close track of money.
As is his habit, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney is receiving questions from the jury. They are asking Meadows why she doesn’t work at U.S.Enterprises anymore. She explains that some portions of the company were sold and there wasn’t enough work for her. 11:08 a.m.
Describing a visit to U.S. Enterprises (also known as Corey Enterprises) office by Tex McIver on Sept. 22, 2016, former receptionist Teresa Gail Meadows said, “He was red-faced. Stern-looking. I’ve not seen too many other people look like that.” She said he was walking swiftly, she did not see him speak to anyone else in the office, although Meadows recalls that Diane McIver was there that day.
The visit took place 3 days before Diane McIver was shot and died.
Court is back in session with a new witness taking the stand. Teresa Gail Meadows was a receptionist and administrative assistant at Corey Enterprises from July 2016 until the end of 2017.
As the AJC has previously reported, Diane McIver, 64, was a successful business woman, rising through the ranks to become president of U.S. Enterprises, the umbrella company for Billy Corey’s Atlanta-based business empire.
The jury is taking a break. Former investigator with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office, Terri Jackson, has finished her testimony. Defense attorney Bruce Harvey asked questions on the drive Jackson took to the McIver’s ranch in Putnam County as part of the investigation. He remarked on the two-lane road, the 90-minute drive and lack of restroom facilities along the way, as well as the vastness of their ranch home.
In Monday’s opening statement by the defense team, it was pointed out that if Tex McIver had planned to murder his wife, shooting her in a more remote area closer to their ranch might have made more sense than shooting her in the presence of her best friend and near to hospitals. Dani Jo Carter, Diane McIver’s best friend, was driving the SUV when the gun went off inside the SUV. Diane McIver was taken to Emory University Hospital but later died there of a gunshot wound in her back.
Harvey continues to raise questions about audio recordings and notes Jackson made; he’s questioning time and location of interviews and the quality of audio recordings used to back up those notes.
Defense Attorney Bruce Harvey is questioning Jackson’s work to compile a synopsis or notes that she left behind on her interviews and other work on the McIver case before she left the Fulton County District Attorney’s office to take another job early in 2017.
Jackson recounts obtaining evidence including the SUV, gun and bullet casings from Diane McIver’s shooting. She also obtained video footage taken inside and outside the Emory University Hospital.
Defense attorney Bruce Harvey is beginning his questioning by asking about her knowledge of when evidence was sent to the crime lab.
Jackson is recounting a visit she made to Diane and Tex McIver’s ranch in Putnam County. She’s pointing to a photo of signs hanging outside there that read: “Our place is like the wild, wild West: We don’t Dial 911,” and it includes the image of a revolver.
Jackson visited the ranch as part of her job at the time, working with the Fulton County District Attorney’s office and assisting with the investigation into the shooting death of Diane McIver. Jackson recounts from memory a chandelier inside made from guns and decor inside the ranch that included images of guns.
First up on the stand today is Terri Jackson, who had been an investigator with the Fulton County District Attorney’s Office. She now works in DeKalb County’s District Attorney Office.
Before court wrapped up Tuesday, Jackson testified that the McIvers’ Buckhead neighbor, Janie Calhoun, was upset that Tex McIver was auctioning off his wife’s clothing and jewelry so soon after her death.
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