Credit: Many thanks to the Daily Report Online for providing reportage used in this news brief.
Yesterday, after deliberating 29 hours over 5 days, the jury at the Fulton County Courthouse in Atlanta found prominent local attorney Tex McIver guilty on four of five charges (see below) in the September 25, 2016 death of his wife, Diane McIver.
Tex argued he had fallen asleep in the back seat of the SUV occupied by himself, Diane, and a third party driving the vehicle (“Dani Jo”), then woke up to find he had shot his wife.
Tex claimed he couldn’t be held responsible for shooting her because he was technically asleep and suffers from a sleep disorder that may have been behind what he described as a “horrible accident.”
The driver rushed them to Emory Hospital in Atlanta, but Diane died following treatment for her gunshot wound.
Two weeks ago, the defense attorney for Tex summoned testimony from the man’s sleep specialist, Dr. Dave Rye, to support his claim.
Tex apparently suffers from REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), in which he unknowingly acts out dream content while fully asleep.
Dr. Rye first became familiar with Tex’s condition nearly 15 years ago following testing that took place at a sleep clinic in Jacksonville, FL.
What is RBD?
RBD is a legitimate sleep disorder. When we enter the REM stage of sleep, a switch in the brainstem activates which blocks all central nervous system signals to the body’s muscular system (with the notable exception of the diaphragm, the muscle necessary for breathing).
Scientists believe this temporary paralysis of the body is meant to prevent dream enactment behaviors, which could be injurious to the dreamer or to others around them.
Dr. Rye explained to the court that along with dream enactment behaviors, people with RBD, when awakened, may find themselves in a state of confusional arousal and may not be able to differentiate dream content from wakeful reality in those moments.
The defense lawyers for Tex argued that his act to squeeze the trigger of a loaded gun he held in possession prior to falling asleep was involuntary, the unfortunate result of either RBD, confusional arousal, or both conditions.
The prosecution’s arguments
However, prosecuting attorneys pointed out that Tex had recently lost an equity partnership which cost him more than half his income, according to reportage by R. Robin McDonald for the Daily Report.
Tex was described as becoming “so financially-strapped that he mortgaged his beloved ranch near Lake Oconee to his wife,” and Fulton County Chief Senior Assistant District Attorney Seleta Griffin told jurors that without her money, “wouldn’t even have one dollar.”
Her death resulted in an immediate $1.2 million transfer from Diane’s holdings to Tex’s bank accounts, according to Griffin.
The jury, ultimately, found the prosecution’s arguments more credible. They ruled that, regardless of his sleep disorder, Tex intentionally shot and killed his wife, leveling 4 guilty verdicts of 5 in the courtroom after listening to testimony from dozens of witnesses over the last 4 weeks.
Felony murder describes a killing which occurs while another felony occurs; in this case, the second felony is aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The verdict carries an automatic life prison sentence, but it will be the judge’s decision whether Tex will enjoy the possibility of parole.
A sentencing date has not been set as of the writing of this post.