Opening statements Tuesday in the trial of a former Leestown Middle School custodian accused of killing a co-worker last year described a history of tension between the men.
Brian McGuire, 27, is charged with murder and possession of a weapon on school property. Police said he brought a semiautomatic handgun to work and emptied it into Jose Daniel "Danny" Donato, killing him.
Prosecutors painted a gruesome picture of the scene. Donato's body lay face-down in a pool of blood. Floor tile shattered by bullets crunched under the feet of police officers who checked for signs of life. Gunpowder and dust hung in the air.
The Puerto Rico native had been shot in the face, chest, groin, hand, leg and knee, Assistant Commonwealth's Attorney Tyler Forsythe said. Fifteen spent shell casings surrounded the body.
The shooting happened on June 9, 2009, two days after students had been released for the summer.
Forsythe said examples of the tension between the custodians included a shouting match in a hallway after Donato accused McGuire of taking a trash can. Another time, a co-worker witnessed Donato drawing a pocket knife and asking McGuire, "You scared of me?"
That confrontation, in fall 2008, was never reported to the school or police, Forsythe said. Until the shooting, co-workers thought the men had worked through their differences, she said.
A pocket knife was found folded in Donato's pocket after he'd been killed, Forsythe said. A small putty knife, which Donato might have been holding when he was shot, was found nearby, according to McGuire's attorney, public defender Tom Griffiths.
Forsythe described McGuire as an unhappy man and a disgruntled employee who planned the shooting in advance. She showed jurors a packed overnight bag found in McGuire's car in Missouri, where he had fled after the shooting.
Griffiths said McGuire was a socially awkward man who simply didn't function well under pressure. McGuire snapped, Griffiths said, after months of repeated threats and bullying from Donato.
"That silly overnight bag is something he's had in the car for years," he said.
Griffiths said evidence showed McGuire had no plan. The gun — a Smith and Wesson 9mm purchased legally at Bud's Gun Shop in Paris — was left by the body. His cell phone was found outside.
"That's not something he's trying to get away with," Griffiths said.
Among the evidence presented at trial was a concealed deadly weapon permit in McGuire's name. The card was found in McGuire's car, which was abandoned several hours away from Grain Valley, Mo., where McGuire turned himself in to police.
Neither attorney disputed that McGuire shot Donato, or that on at least one occasion Donato drew his pocketknife on McGuire in front of a co-worker.
Griffiths said that confrontation was one of many times that Donato threatened McGuire with the knife.
"He usually did it when there weren't a whole lot of people around," he said.
On June 5, the Friday before the shooting, Donato cornered McGuire in a trailer on school property, stabbing the knife repeatedly into a wooden railing, Griffiths said.
"He was looking him in the eye and stabbing down over and over," he said.
That incident made McGuire paranoid, Griffiths said. On the Saturday before the shooting, McGuire searched his property while armed with a Taser after he heard a noise outside. Something had activated his motion-sensor security lights, Griffiths said.
"He was much more frightened than a noise outside should make him," he said.
On June 8, the day before the shooting, McGuire had gone to his parents' house. When he told them about the noise, they told him about some strange activity outside their home as well.
His parents, Janet and William McGuire, took care of Brian McGuire's young son, Joey. On Saturday night, Joey's inflatable swimming pool had been slashed and deflated, Griffiths said, adding that the pool would be presented as evidence during the trial.
Forsythe disputed that Donato had threatened McGuire other than the one time a coworker witnessed it.
"Unfortunately, Danny Donato is not here to tell us about that," Forsythe said.
In the days before the shooting, McGuire told his supervisor and a school human resources director about the confrontation in the trailer, the attorneys said.
He had tried to file an emergency protective order against Donato, but he did not qualify for one because Donato was not family, Forsythe said. The day before the shooting, McGuire was given a form telling him how to file a criminal complaint. A human resources director told him a police report would be taken in the morning.
"But the next morning, instead of reporting to the central office, and instead of reporting to work ... he decided to take matters into his own hands," Forsythe said.
School officials had planned to suspend Donato while they investigated McGuire's claims, Forsythe said.
"Many, many people were working to make sure Brian McGuire was safe," she said.
But Griffiths said McGuire had no idea that any action was being taken.
"A conversation and a form — that's what he got out of it," Griffiths said. "No one ever told Brian they were doing anything about it."
Witnesses called Tuesday included Donato's wife, Carrie Donato, police officers and detectives from Lexington and Missouri, and a construction contractor working at the school who found Donato's body in a hallway near the cafeteria.
The trial will resume at 9 a.m. Wednesday.