MANATEE -- A judge set a $25,000 bond for the man charged in the fatal shooting of his 22-year-old roommate two months ago.
Austin Brunson was fatally shot at 8:30 p.m. June 7 at the residence he shared in the 30 West Apartments, 2785 50th Ave. W.
His best friend, Kyle Guessford, is charged with manslaughter with a firearm. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison.
Deputies initially ruled the shooting accidental, but last week the State Attorney's Office filed charges against Guessford citing negligence when he pointed a loaded gun at Brunson and pulled the trigger.
Guessford appeared before Judge Edward Nicholas for a first appearance hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Families for Guessford and Brunson sat in the courtroom, and emotions were high with Brunson's family divided over the charges against his best friend.
Donna Lofthouse, Brunson's mother, sat alongside Guessford's family and disagreed when the state requested a $500,000 bond citing the severe nature of the crime and the defendant's admission of the crime.
"I know how much my son and Kyle loved each other," Lofthouse said. "I know Kyle would do no harm to anyone."
Guessford's attorney, Brett McIn
tosh, requested bond be set at $25,000 because he has no criminal history, is not a flight risk and has cooperated with investigators.
Guessford attended Brunson's funeral as pallbearer, McIntosh added.
In the midst of Nicholas setting bond, Bruson's father interjected, wishing to be heard.
"I am not good with any of this," David Brunson said. "My heart was broken."
David Brunson made clear he was not in agreement with his ex-wife and has no tolerance for guns.
Guessford bowed his head as his late friend's father spoke.
"I can accept some mistakes in life but not when it comes with loaded guns," he said. "My heart is crushed."
Witnesses told investigators Guessford was checking out an accessory he had just purchased at a gun show for his Glock handgun when he came out of his bedroom in the apartment he shared with Brunson.
Guessford denies cocking the gun before pointing it at Brunson and pulling the trigger, but witnesses said he did. Guessford also denies knowing the gun was loaded.
Kate Irby, Herald online reporter, contributed to this report.
Jessica De Leon, Herald law enforcement reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7049. You can follow her on Twitter @JDeLeon1012.