ATLANTA - Jury selection is underway in the murder trial of Tex McIver, the Buckhead attorney accused of killing his wife Diane as they rode in an SUV in 2016.
McIver maintains he had fallen asleep during the ride back from Putnam County and was startled awake, causing the gun to accidentally go off, striking Diane in the back. Prosecutors alleged McIver had financial motive to kill his wife because he owed her hundreds of thousands of dollars and stood to lose the couple’s ranch in Diane’s will.
Before selection began Monday, Judge Robert McBurney ruled on several key pieces of evidence.
*Jurors will hear that McIver didn’t call 911, but won’t be allowed to hear a prosecution theory that having their friend drive them to Emory Hospital instead of Grady Hospital lessened Ms. McIver’s chances of survival.
*Jurors will hear possible evidence that Ms. McIver had a “second will,” even though prosecutors admit they can’t physically produce it.
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 will hear evidence that Tex McIver said he had the gun out in the SUV because he was fearful of “Black Lives Matter” protesters in the area. Judge McBurney cautioned the state not to make this a racially motivated case, however.
“From a defense perspective I think that’s going to be troubling. I think it’s going to put the jurors back up a little bit and wonder why, in a city like Atlanta where we’ve never had any Black Lives Matter violence, why that would make someone want to take a firearm out of their car,” said Jamila Hall, a former federal prosecutor who now works in private practice.
Hall said prosecutors will use that fact to paint McIver in a negative light.
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“From a prosecution side, that’s helpful in that it gives jurors an idea about what type of person Tex McIver is," Hall said.
WSB Legal Analyst Esther Panitch told Channel 2’s Mike Petchenik the lack of a will could hurt the state’s case.
“The will doesn’t seem to exist. The threat of the will is what the state will have to use,” she said. “The defense can easily attack it."
Both Hall and Panitch told Petchenik that selecting the jury for this case will be crucial.
“Many lawyers believe that once you have your jury selected, you know what your verdict is going to be,” Panitch said. “These 12 people will be the ones judging your client and his future.”
Hall said both sides are looking for specific kinds of people to serve.
“For the prosecution, they’ll be looking for jurors who are familiar with downtown Atlanta, that live close to the city and that are going to be quizzical and ask questions,” she said. “On the defense side, they’ll be looking for jurors who aren’t familiar with the city of Atlanta, who understand that driving late at night near Edgewood would cause someone to have some fear.”
Jury selection will resume Tuesday.
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