Former prominent Georgia employment lawyer who shot his wife sentenced to 8 years in prison

ATLANTA (AP) — A once-prominent employment lawyer who fatally shot his wife as she rode in an SUV in 2016 pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges and was sentenced to eight years in prison as part of a plea deal.

Claud “Tex” McIver, 81, was sentenced to life in prison for aggravated murder in 2018, but that conviction was overturned in 2022 by Georgia's highest court, which ruled that the jury would have had the opportunity to bring a manslaughter charge.

As part of Friday's agreement, McIver also pleaded guilty to reckless conduct and related weapons charges and was sentenced to seven years probation, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He will be given credit for the time he has already spent in custody. Amanda R. Clark Palmer and Donald F. Samuel, McIver's attorneys, told the newspaper that McIver's sentence ends in mid-2025, but he could be eligible for parole before then.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Robert McBurney said he considered the plea deal “a healthier and cleaner way” to resolve the case than a retrial, which could have resulted in an acquittal.

He acknowledged that some of those who loved 64-year-old Diane McIver might be disappointed with the outcome of the case.

“Mr. “McIver should not have held the loaded gun in his hand with his finger on the trigger,” the judge said. “Anyone seeking pure punishment through this process will be disappointed.”

McIver apologized for his actions and admitted there is nothing he can do to make up for what happened to his wife.

“She died simply as a result of my actions,” he said. “I've been wearing my wedding ring since the day we got married and I plan to wear it until I die. I hope we're at a point where we stop judging each other and we can all move on. She is my angel and is waiting for me in heaven.”

McIver was awaiting a retrial on charges of aggravated murder, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and related weapons possession. The negotiated plea ends an appeal by the state of an order limiting its evidence at the retrial. McBurney had barred prosecutors from alleging in the retrial that McIver intended to kill his wife because McIver was acquitted of first-degree murder in his first trial.

McIver has always maintained that he accidentally shot his wife on the night of September 25, 2016, while sitting in the back seat of an SUV driven by a friend. After they exited a highway and drove through downtown Atlanta, McIver said he asked his wife to get his gun from the center console and give it to him, saying they were in a “really bad area.”

A short time later, McIver fired the .38 caliber revolver once, hitting his wife in the back. He claimed he fell asleep with his gun in his lap and it accidentally fired. Prosecutors claimed he killed his wife because he wanted her money.

Rich, successful and politically connected, the McIvers were considered an Atlanta power couple.

McIver was a partner at a national employment law firm. The Georgia Supreme Court accepted the waiver of McIver's law license in April. He had practiced law in Georgia since 1973.

Diane McIver rose to the top of US Enterprises Inc. after more than four decades with the real estate and advertising company founded by Billy Corey.

Corey was in court Friday to make a statement, which was read on his behalf by a member of the Fulton County District Attorney's Office. In his statement, Corey said that Diane McIver was an integral part of his business and that her death left a huge void. He said her death was “not an accident.”

“One man, one hand and one bullet ended her life and caused a life of misery and loss for so many others,” Corey said. “There will never be another Diane McIver. Diane was full of life and should never have been taken away from us in such a careless and malicious manner. She is missed today as much as she was that tragic day.”

Photo: McIver at his trial in 2018. (Bob Andres/Atlanta Journal-Constitution via AP, Pool)

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