ATLANTA — One week into the Tex McIver trial, the only witness to the shooting of Diane McIver - Dani Jo Carter - took the stand.
Before then, the public hadn’t heard much at all from the McIvers’ close friend. She’d stayed out of the media spotlight for the most part.
So, when she finally swore in, the crowd in the courtroom was more than ready to hear, for the first time, Carter's full account of what happened the night of Diane McIver’s death.
After a few minutes of questions about her background and work history, Fulton County Assistant District Attorney Clint Rucker asked Carter about her friendship with the McIvers. He then asked about getting to know the defendant; Tex McIver.
Carter said she met Tex at a party back in 2000, before he was married to Diane. It was the night of Tex and Diane’s first date.
The prosecution then began to ask Carter about September 2016 and the days before Diane was killed, namely the trip to the McIvers’ Putnam county ranch.
Rucker then honed in on Sept. 25, 2016 - the day Diane was shot and killed.
Diane and Tex went to play golf and Carter stayed behind, she said. They all met back up around 6 p.m. before leaving to head back to Atlanta, with a plan to stop for dinner at Longhorn Steakhouse.
As Rucker began to hone in on those final minutes of Diane’s life, Carter moved from the witness stand to another seat: a recreation of her position in the SUV where Diane was shot, so that jurors could see clearly how things played out that night.
Carter walked jurors through what happened as she, Diane and Tex made their way off of the interstate and through the streets of Atlanta.
She testified that after being shot, Diane was breathing hard and panicking. From the back seat, she said Tex leaned forward and held Diane’s head, telling Carter his wife was still breathing.
Rucker then asked Carter about what happened as they arrived at the hospital. She told him Tex got out of the car and called for help.
Carter then described her movements inside the hospital: finding Tex near an emergency bay where Diane was at the time, then relocating to a small waiting room.
She testified that she'd also found Diane’s ID after searching through her purse, as well as her insurance card. She took them to hospital staff, then returned to the small waiting room.
Rucker focused next on the critical exchange when, according to Carter, Tex seemed to suggest that she say something different from what actually happened.
As Rucker leads her through the rest of that night, jurors learned that Carter left the hospital with investigators, and spent the early morning hours being interviewed by police.
The next day, Bruce Harvey with Tex’s defense team took over. His cross-examination of Carter led her through a long, detailed description of her final trip to the McIver ranch with both Tex and Diane.
The testimony went on for hours, with Carter calmly answering Harvey’s questions about what appeared to be the McIver’s loving marriage, what they all did and talked about that weekend before arriving at the minutes leading up to the shooting. Then, he asked about the moment the gun went off.
Carter continued to answer questions, walking Harvey and jurors through the final hours of Diane’s life: The scene outside the hospital, inside the waiting room, and that conversation with Tex about her not being in the car that night.
The next day - the third and final day of Carter’s testimony - Clint Rucker decided to bring up something not previously discussed, a fight between Tex and Diane that took place months earlier, when the McIvers were celebrating their godson Austen’s 10th birthday at the ranch.
Carter said that night, Austen had burned his finger in the firepit outside the McIver’s ranch and when he woke up in pain, Carter overheard Tex and Diane arguing.
Carter ended up taking the stand for three days - 16 total hours of testimony - at one point even telling the defense she’d been talking for so long her memory was getting mushy.
After she left the stand, the court heard Tex's voice for the first time. But not because he himself was testifying.
The jury heard a voicemail left for Carter's husband, Tom, around the time she hired an attorney to represent her.
Tom testified that Tex was hounding him, calling him six times in one day. He also said Tex felt Carter hiring an attorney looked bad for him, and he wanted her and Tom to come forward and tell the media he was innocent.
Also in the witness box that day was an Emory police officer, one of the first on the scene when the SUV arrived at the hospital, giving jurors another glimpse of Tex’s actions inside the hospital after Diane was taken into surgery.
On day eight, the jury watched a 45-minute video of Tex being interviewed by police in the days following his wife’s death.
In the footage, Tex - after leading detectives through the trip to the ranch and the events of the weekend - describes the scene inside and outside of the SUV as they pulled off of the expressway that night.
It’s the first time anyone heard an account of that night from Tex himself.
The detectives jump back in with questions about the exact location of where the SUV stopped when the gun was fired, before returning again to the seconds after Diane was struck with a bullet.
Tex continued in the video with the events of that night, ultimately telling detectives about the scene at the hospital, even getting checked out himself in the Emory emergency room that night:
On day nine of the trial, the prosecution focused on one of the possible motives introduced during their opening statement –Tex’s flailing finances and his dependence on Diane’s income.
There’s also testimony from a family friend about a pair of Diane’s boots, and who was wearing them after her death. The McIvers’ had a massage therapist - Annie Anderson - who often traveled with them and gave them both massages. She was seen wearing Diane’s boots.
After a weekend break, the trial resumed with the McIvers’ finances again the focus.
Harry Hudson, an Atlanta attorney, was called to the stand to testify about estate planning he’d helped the McIvers with, starting in 2009.
As part of that process, he’d spoken to Tex and Diane about the ranch and their wills. He testified that the process had been “exceedingly difficult” and they never reached a final decision together.
Hudson was then asked to read an email where Diane responded to one Tex sent her about following up with the attorney on the estate planning process.
As the week continued, more testimony about money that Diane loaned Tex came to the surface - a loan for $750,000 in 2005 and another one for $350,000 in 2011.
The picture the prosecution painted was clear: Tex was “cash poor” and Diane was supporting him and their lifestyle, including that sprawling Putnam County ranch that Tex loved so much.
As they continued to build their case, the prosecution prepared to shift from the McIvers’ finances to Tex’s guns.
The court would also soon hear directly from the McIvers’ massage therapist Annie Anderson about those boots, and her relationship with Tex.
New episodes of "Intent: The Tex McIver Case" drop every Monday starting August 22. Listen on your favorite podcast apps including Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and Stitcher.