Man gets 20 years in slaying of Leestown Middle custodian

Brian Allen McGuire, Lexington, a suspect in the fatal shooting at Leestown Middle School on Tuesday June 9, 2009.
Brian Allen McGuire, Lexington, a suspect in the fatal shooting at Leestown Middle School on Tuesday June 9, 2009.

A middle school custodian was sentenced Friday to 20 years in prison for killing a co-worker last year.

Fayette Circuit Judge Kimberly Bunnell sentenced Brian Allen McGuire to 20 years for manslaughter and five years for unlawful possession of a weapon on school property. The charges are to run concurrently. McGuire must serve 85 percent — 17 years — before he is eligible for parole. He has been credited with 549 days served in jail.

McGuire, 28, was convicted last month of the charges for the June 2009 shooting death of Daniel "Danny" Donato, a fellow custodian helper at Lexington's Leestown Middle School.

After the sentencing, his attorney, Tom Griffiths, said the judge had little or no discretion in the sentencing under the law. He said he planned to file an appeal.

Griffiths said "the evidence at trial showed that Mr. Donato is part of why this occurred."

Defense attorneys had maintained that McGuire had been repeatedly bullied by Donato and that Donato had pulled a knife on McGuire on several occasions.

Prosecutors said McGuire had never told school officials that Donato had threatened him with a knife until after the last such alleged threat on June 5, 2009.

Then, they said, McGuire waited three days — until the day before the June 9 shooting — to tell school officials. After McGuire told school officials about the alleged June 5 threat, he did not give them a chance to do something about it, taking matters into his own hands instead, prosecutors said.

Numerous victim-impact statements were given to the judge.

Before sentencing, Bunnell told Donato's friends and family that she wished that they had the answer to their question of why the killing happened.

Griffiths said McGuire shares the regrets of everyone involved in the case.

"If he could have taken things back, he would have," he said.

Carrie Donato, the victim's widow, said the Donato family is still grieving. She said her husband was "not at all a bully."

"In my mind, it was probably more of a jealousy issue on Brian's side," she said.

"We were expecting what happened today," said Donato's mother, Carmen Donato. "However, I think it's unfair because it was murder."

She said her son was a kind, caring, loving, Christian man.

"A person who has Jesus in his heart will not bully," she said.

She said she hoped that McGuire comes to know the God that her son knew.

Eddie Baker, Danny Donato's best friend, said that McGuire's story did not ring true.

"Danny never had an opportunity to present his side of the case," he said.

McGuire's mother, Barbara McGuire, left the courtroom quickly after her son's sentence was handed down.