ATLANTA — After hearing from 78 witnesses who testified over 20 days, the jury found Tex McIver guilty of murdering his wife, Diane, on Monday.
Tex McIver shot Diane McIver on Sept. 25, 2016.
The couple was coming home from a weekend at their ranch in Putnam County; Diane McIver's best friend, Dani Jo Carter, was driving their Ford Expedition near Piedmont Park when Tex fired a bullet into his wife's back.
McIver said he was asleep in the back seat and shot the gun inadvertently.
Here are five things to know about Diane McIver:
SHE WAS TOUGH AS NAILS
Those who knew and worked with Diane McIver, 64, said she was a force to be reckoned with: a workaholic with a sharp tongue, a formidable presence in any room. She often woke up at 5 a.m. to start her day with a workout and even kept a set of weights in her office.
Kenneth Rickert, an attorney responsible for legal matters at Diane McIver's company, U.S. Enterprises, testified that "Diane was difficult, she was a tough taskmaster."
Her cousin, Sandy Shane, said, "She was going to make her own path in this world. She wasn't going to have to rely on anybody. She was going to be a self-made woman.”
At the same time, though, she was also known for her generosity. Friends said she never forgot a birthday and often took them with her on lavish trips, for which she footed the entire bill.
SHE HAD AN UNHAPPY CHILDHOOD, BUT NOT AS UNHAPPY AS SOME THINK
The legend that has spouted up around Diane McIver is one of rags-to-riches. Many of those who knew her said she grew up poverty-stricken, living in a trailer park, and struck out on her own to achieve wealth and prosperity as a corporate president. That isn't entirely true. Diane's cousin, Sandy Shane, said Diane grew up in relative comfort — certainly not in a trailer park. However, her rapid ascension into the business world was just that — an ascension. Under the mentorship of Billy Corey, she went from answering phones to running the company. However, even though Diane didn’t grow up in a slum, Shane said her cousin’s childhood “wasn’t the happiest.”
She had a rocky relationship with her mother; Shane said the two "fought like cats and dogs," and Diane made plans to leave home as soon as she turned 18. Diane was estranged from her mother for the last 15 years of her mother's life and even refused to attend the funeral. Linda Winkler, her neighbor, said when she offered her friend condolences for the loss of her mother, Diane said, "I will not shed one single tear."
SHE WAS VERY POLITICALLY ACTIVE
Diane McIver and her husband, Tex, donated large sums to political campaigns for mostly Republican candidates — collectively totaling more than $100,000. They also hosted fundraising events at their Putnam County ranch for Republican gubernatorial candidates and had a "Blue Lives Matter" billboard erected in Eatonton.
SHE WAS FIERCELY DEVOTED TO HER GODSON
Eleven-year-old Austin Schwall, the son of Fulton County Superior Court Judge Craig Schwall, was the light of Diane McIver’s life. His parents were close friends with the McIvers, and Diane, whom Austin affectionately called “Mommy Di,” payed for his nursery and tutoring. The boy also had a bedroom at the couple’s Putnam County ranch, which he visited often.
"He adored her. She poured so much love into him and he did the same," Austin's mother, Anne Schwall, testified.
Billy Corey, Diane’s longtime mentor, summed it up this way on the stand: "If Tex and I were in intensive care and Austin needed toothpaste, she wouldn’t think a thing about leaving us there."
Contention around whether Diane McIver changed her will so that Austin would inherit the ranch after her death has become a key point in the trial.
SHE LOVED CLOTHES
Diane McIver had expensive taste. When her husband auctioned off her wardrobe at a highly scrutinized estate sale shortly after her death, more than 2,000 items — clothing, jewelry, shoes, handbags and furs — were part of the sale, many of which had designer labels and price tags in the thousands of dollars. Her enormous collection included 121 fur coats and more than 500 pieces of French and Italian costume jewelry.
The estate sale spanned more than 1,200 square feet. Her neighbor, Linda Winkler, said Diane changed gowns multiple times over the course of her wedding weekend. Her engagement ring was worth $60,000.
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