A soft-spoken, teary-eyed Brian McGuire testified Monday that Jose Daniel "Danny" Donato, a fellow custodian helper at Lexington's Lees town Middle School, had threatened him repeatedly, and school officials to whom he complained about Donato didn't seem to care.
But under questioning from prosecutor Lou Anna Red Corn, McGuire said he didn't mention to the school's principal and vice principal and possibly his immediate boss that Donato had made those threats with a knife.
McGuire, 28, is on trial in Fayette Circuit Court in the shooting death of Donato, 38, on June 9, 2009, at the school. McGuire is accused of murder and possession of a weapon on school property.
The situation between McGuire and Donato got worse as time went on, according to McGuire. On Friday, June 5, 2009, Donato pulled a knife on him at the school, he said. The following Monday, McGuire's parents told him that his son's plastic pool, which was in their back yard, had been damaged over the weekend.
Never miss a local story.
"They told me my son's swimming pool had been slashed," McGuire said during questioning by defense attorney Tom Griffiths. "I was scared. I thought Danny was sending a message to me."
Earlier that Monday, which was the day before the shooting, McGuire sent an e-mail to Fayette County Public Schools human resources director Melodee Parker, telling her that Donato had threatened him with a knife on Friday, according to court testimony. That day, he also told Kiyon Massey, associate director for classified personnel in the school system's human resources department, and others at the school system's headquarters on Main Street about the knife incident, he said.
That day, before he went to school headquarters, McGuire said he tried to get an emergency protective order against Donato from the Fayette County sheriff's office but was turned down because Donato was not a relative or a significant other. McGuire said he then went to the county attorney's office in Fayette District Court to get a criminal complaint form.
"I felt let down. I felt like everyone had kicked me to the curb," McGuire said.
The next day, Tuesday, June 9, 2009, McGuire went back to the school system's headquarters, but the parking lot was empty. He headed for Leestown Middle, he said.
McGuire said he had a gun that he usually kept in the glove compartment of his vehicle with him as he walked into the front door of the school. He said he saw his boss, Ed Addison, and Donato talking in the school.
McGuire said he remembered Addison screaming at him.
"I thought Danny had something in his hand," McGuire said.
"Brian, what did you do?" Griffiths asked.
"I shot him," McGuire said, adding that he didn't remember how many times.
"I remember the first shot, and it seemed like time froze," he said.
Red Corn showed McGuire the Smith & Wesson semi-automatic handgun used to kill Donato and said that hollow-point bullets do more damage than other types of bullets. She said the bullets in the gun on the day of Donato's killing were hollow-points. McGuire agreed that they were.
"You emptied every round you had in this gun, didn't you?" Red Corn said.
"I don't know," McGuire said.
McGuire's mother, Barbara McGuire, testified earlier Monday that she had wished a thousand times that she'd never told her son about the deflated child's pool.
"I gave him the message Mr. Donato wanted delivered," she said.
McGuire's mother and his uncle, John Crase, told jurors that McGuire was a quiet person who kept things to himself. Barbara McGuire said her son let people run over him.
Griffiths said McGuire wrote Janet Sams, now his fiancée, a note to ask her out on their first date.
"I was scared to talk to her," McGuire said.
Fayette County school Superintendent Stu Silberman was among the people who testified Monday, but Silberman did not testify before the jury. Defense attorney Andrew Bowker said he could not comment about why the testimony was not given in the jury's presence.
Closing arguments in the case are to begin at 9 a.m. Tuesday.