Michaela: The star witness in a high-profile murder trial is finally finished with several days of pretty grueling testimony. Tex McIver is accused of intentionally shooting his wife in the back as they drove through Atlanta. The only witness to this, Dani Jo Carter. She was driving the moment her best friend was shot. While she’s been on the stand, attorneys from both sides have grilled her on what happened that day.
Man 1: It was always Tex and Diane or Diane and Tex.
Dani: Yes, he said he discharged the gun. I don’t remember him saying “I was asleep.”
Man 2: Was the gun inside the bag or outside the bag when you saw it in Mr. McIver’s hands?
Dani: Halfway inside and halfway outside. I couldn’t see the entire gun.
Michaela: I’m delighted to have a CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Page Pate. Normally, you’re in a box and I’m in a box. We’re talking through the airwaves. This is really fascinating because you know all of the players.
Michaela: This was big news in Atlanta. It’s a big case. These are people that were colleagues and are colleagues of yours.
Michaela: Let’s talk about this testimony.
Michaela: How important was this, from Dani Jo?
Page: Well, it’s critical because she is the only witness to the killing. She was in the car at the time. She did not actually see Tex McIver fire.
Michaela: She was driving.
Page: She was driving, but she heard it. And she immediately turned around to see what was happening. Tex McIver’s cleaning off the revolver right after he fired the shot. The gun is halfway in a bag, halfway out of a bag, so it’s critical testimony. Now, she could have helped the state a lot more had she actually seen him shoot the gun.
Michaela: Of course.
Page: Because there’s some question about the forensics. Did it appear to go off accidentally? Was he in a position where he was actually aiming the firearm? A lot of unanswered questions.
Michaela: One of the things that I found interesting is that she revealed in testimony that he actually asked her to lie to police.
Page: That’s right.
Michaela: That’s never good. I’m not a legal person, but that feels wrong to me.
Page: Right, not a good strategy, no.
Michaela: Not a good look.
Page: No, and that’s one of the things that’s consistent, hearing the state’s theory of the case. He’s saying it’s an accident, okay. But he’s had all different kinds of stories about why it’s an accident. And immediately after she was taken to the hospital where she ended up dying, he’s already telling the only witness, the only other person in the car, “Don’t say it. Yeah, tell them you’re here just as a friend of the family. Don’t even tell them you were driving the car.”
Michaela: Does that speak to culpability to you or more of a personality trait?
Page: It could speak to both, and that’s why I think it’s going to be important for the defense to tell the jury who Tex McIver is. I don’t know him personally, but I know him by reputation. He’s a very controlling kind of guy. And he’s a lawyer, so he’s thinking not just as a husband at that point, but as a lawyer who knows this is going to be investigated.
Michaela: And he doesn’t want to go to jail, as a lawyer.
Page: Oh, no. And he said that. Yeah, he said, “I don’t want to go to jail.” Now the defense is [inaudible 00:02:41]
Michaela: How damaging is that?
Page: Well, who does? Who wants to go to jail?
Michaela: None of us.
Page: The defense is saying, “Well, it’s because he’s claustrophobic. He doesn’t want to be in a jail cell,” but he did take a lot of steps that the state contends were very unusual, things that he did that somebody who was simply present and had an accident occur, they wouldn’t do those things.
Michaela: You’re a defense attorney.
Michaela: If this was your client, let’s just pretend, would you advise him to take the stand to testify on his own behalf?
Page: Absolutely not, because at the end of the day, the state has a lot of sizzle, but no real meat here. There was some inconsistent statements, but there’s nothing to suggest that he had a true motive to kill his wife at the time that he actually did. There was no real argument prior to that time.
Michaela: But who cleans their gun in the backseat while you’re driving around Atlanta?
Page: He has all kinds of excuses for that. He took it out because he was scared of the neighborhood. He took it out and then fell asleep before putting it back in and it went off. Again, all of those could point to this being a murder, but it’s not substantial enough to show guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Now, if he takes the stand, he may make more inconsistent statements.
Michaela: Yeah, and it gets troublesome.
Page: Exactly, and he’s not a real likeable guy. So the jury may listen to him, hold him responsible for his wife’s murder, and he could be convicted even though the state doesn’t have all of that evident.
Michaela: Isn’t it fascinating? I tell you, talking to Page, because again, any insider in this whole legal world here in Atlanta, to get your perspective on this and your professional perspective is invaluable to us. Thank you so much.
Page: Thank you, [inaudible 00:04:05].
Michaela: A delight to see you in person as well.
Page Pate is an accomplished trial lawyer with over 25 years of experience in criminal defense, civil litigation, and whistleblower representation. Page is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, Top 100 Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers, and named to the list of Super Lawyers for the past 15 consecutive years. Page is a frequent expert legal analyst for local and national media and has served as an Adjunct Professor at the University of Georgia Law School. Read Page’s reviews on AVVO. Follow Page on Twitter @pagepate and on Linkedin.